What’s an interview really about? In most organization’s these days, gone are the days when interviews were single stage process i.e. one person or panel interviewed and a choice was made. Interviews have evolved into multi stage decision processes, and many times the final decision may be taken by someone who has not interviewed the person, and is relying solely on the feedback of multiple interviewers and other data points about the candidate.
What does this mean for the candidate? You go in thinking you want the job. But what you really need to orient yourself is that you need a series of approvals and referrals. Everyone in the interview process must feel good about referring you ahead. This is true for internal and external jobs.
You need to carry yourself well even outside the interview. Using an expletive or behaving rather casually in front of a non-interviewer, say the secretary or junior executive escorting you to the interview room can end your dreams for that job.
When does the interviewer feel good about you? Remember the interviewer is hiring you to help make his/her life easier. You need to provide them the data points which help them convince others that you would be a great fit. Let’s understand this with an example.
Interviewer: “You must have read the job description. It’s rather detailed. Do you think you can do the job?”
Candidate 1: “Yes, I can..it looks quite interesting..I so look forward to it.”
Candidate 2: “Yes, I am really excited to work on application software. I have designed…<goes on to give examples>..Also, there is an aspect of reporting, which is something I really like working on..I firmly and truly believe that what gets measured gets improved..in fact,<shares another example>.
Who do you think does the interviewer recommend? I know, you are going to say Candidate 2. You are right.
Ask the right questions. So, you answered with examples, and are feeling good. Now, comes the next hurdle. The interviewer smiles and asks “What would you like to ask?” Lets understand again with an example.
Candidate 1:”What is your leave policy?”
Candidate 2:”What is your favourite part about working in the company?”
Again, the answer is obvious. Candidate 2 scores. The interviewee who straight away asks about aspects of renumeration isn’t generating confidence. This could be asked after one is selected or after asking some of the more culture/challenges etc type of questions.
How do we learn more about the interviewer & company? It is very important to cue into the interviewer and the company you are applying to. Use the internet well. Use linkedin, facebook, company website, news reports to find out more. Make notes on culture, key activities, success factors, challenges. Check out profiles of employees in similar roles at the company. During the actual interview, watch the body language of the interviewer(s). Cueing in is about responding to other person’s unconscious cues, whether it is a courteous smile, being relaxed and professional. Using agreement words like “absolutely, you are right, sure, I know” helps build the rapport with the interviewer.
Many times, some of the interviews could be telephonic. It is especially very important to listen carefully, allow the interviewer to complete their sentences, and be more cued into nuances. If the interviewer expresses a strong opinion, respect that. Telephonic interviews with no video are not easy, and it is more than ever important to ensure you modulate your voice well, speak clearly and not too fast or slow.
A curveball most candidates do not prepare for is that the interviewer may not be in a position to really interview you for the job. Their job knowledge may be quite low, and they may not be a subject matter expert. You do need to cue into this early in the interview. Always ensure that you start off with explaining in a simple manner. Do not be condescending ever, as you still need that person’s approval. Meet your interviewer where they are and do not make them feel any less.
Summing up: In the end, think of the interview as a series of sales calls. Every customer matters and needs to approve you for the job. Securing a job is based on your ability to sell what you have to offer and how you can help the company. Make a series of sales closures and get the deal.
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