In a recent New York Times profile, a respected CEO was asked, “How do you interview job candidates?”
It’s a revealing statement but really not that surprising.
When you are in the interview stage with an employer, chances are, you are one of several candidates who has proven to have the experience, background, expertise and talent to fulfill the requirements of the job. At this point, the person who is doing the hiring is trying to unlock the greatest mystery in their mind: what would it be like to actually work with you? Why would I want you on my team?
Put yourself in the shoes of the person who is interviewing you for the job.
They have probably never met you before – they might only know you from your resume and cover letter. And yet, they are about to make a decision and a commitment that means they will most likely be spending more time with you at work than they do at home with their spouse, their kids and their friends! In addition, they are trusting that your performance will help to increase the value and productivity of their organization/department and on top of that, they are going to pay you MONEY for doing so!
This is a relatively short courtship; within a period of a few weeks, this person is bringing you onto their team with the relatively blind expectation and finger-crossing hope that you are the perfect match.
Throughout the interview, they will try to figure out the answers to the following questions. While these questions most likely will not be asked directly, by understanding and anticipating the mindset of the interviewer will allow you to demonstrate that you are the best candidate for the job.
Prepare yourself! Demonstrate with examples and specific situations answers to these questions.
Are you enjoyable and fun to be around? (I have to spend a lot of time with you, I don’t want to dread seeing you every day! Are you a suck-up? Are you nervous around the boss? Are you someone I’d feel comfortable having a beer with from time-to-time? Will you get along with my other employees?)
Will you be a good deputy? (Will you be loyal and trustworthy? Someone I can always rely on? Will you watch my back? Will you be a constant ‘yes’ person or are you willing to challenge me and help me avoid mistakes? Will you be thinking three steps ahead and help me and my department to avoid mistakes?)
Will you be easy to manage? (Are you someone with great enthusiasm who will be help me inspire my team or are you going to be a pain in my rear; a complainer and a whiner? )
Are you a good team player? (Do you recognize your role on my team? Can you get along with others and inspire others? Can you play well with others and not get sucked into office politics? Do you have leadership skills and can you leverage other team member’s strengths with your own for the good of the department? Will you put the team’s goals ahead of you own personal ambition? Will your negative energy drag down the morale of the department?)
Do you listen intently and can you follow instructions easily? (Do you have common sense? Can I rely that I can explain something once and expect that you’ll accomplish the assignment? Is this person a know-it-all, been-there-done-that? Do I have to explain multiple times how to get something done?)
Do you communicate well? (Are you charismatic? Confident? Do you explain yourself clearly? Do you get flustered under pressure? Can you make a good case and argue points effectively? Are you organized in how you communicate?)
Are you a hard worker? (Can I count on you to go the extra mile to get a project completed and not complain? Will you work late or on the weekends if required from time-to-time?)
Are you creative? Innovative? (Are you full of great ideas? Do you think outside of the box? As important, can you implement a vision? Can you inspire people to think differently?)