How Does Your Interviewer Like It?
21 August, 2017
When it comes to job applications, interviews often represent the crux of the process. It can go very well at this stage or turn into a train wreck. Equally, you may be left in uncertain territory where you feel you could either be relegated to the subs bench, or that it's 50:50 whether they call you back or not.
An oft overlooked part of interview preparation is interview behaviour. Involving careful consideration of who you're interviewing with (organisation and individual), interview behaviour includes personality traits you "amp up or down", what you wear, and how you accommodate your preferred way of relating to others to the interviewer's own temperament.
Interviewers usually already have an image of the perfect candidate in their minds. A large part of the interview is convincing the interviewer that you are the closest fit to their perfect candidate. How do you know what their perfect candidate looks like? The challenge is that it's impossible to know exactly. But you can get close by doing your research and making some informed guesses.
Who is the perfect candidate?
For the most part, an interviewer's perfect candidate is someone that they know, a type of person that they're comfortable with, or someone like them. If you can, find out who will be interviewing you, and do some research. What networks are they a member of? What are they interested in? Have they written anything - if so, what? All of this information will help you understand their perspective. For example, if they appear to be quite serious and detail-focused, be cautious about making jokes or being too light-hearted in the interview, and make sure you have any important facts or details memorised by heart.
Secondly, understand the role the person interviewing you plays in the organisation. What capacities and experiences equate to success in their role? For example, are they part of the creative, ideas-focused department? Does their success depend on the ability to think outside of the box? If so, then show them your aptitude for this. Understand what's important to them, and actively demonstrate your aptitude in the relevant areas.
Thirdly, different people are brought into the hiring process for different reasons. Think about what stage you're at, and the role that the person interviewing you plays in that. Depending on the business area, organisation, industry, and location you're interviewing for, this may vary widely. A person's role may be formal or it could be an unspoken one they take on. Common roles people play in the hiring process include: "find out what their weaknesses are", "check they're a good fit with the team they're joining", "get an overall impression of whether this person should progress to the next round or not", "learn about their experience at X-organisation", etc. The more you can develop an understanding of what you're stepping into, the better prepared you can be.
Fourthly, understand the organisational culture of the company you're applying to. Do they have a laid-back, youthful culture? If so, it may be best to avoid going to the interview in a formal suit. The interviewers are looking for someone who will fit in at their organisation, not necessarily stand out. This shouldn't be a problem if you've done your research on which companies to apply for.
Lastly, understand the cultural context of the company. If you are applying for a job in a country which values punctuality highly, such as Switzerland, make sure you are 5 minutes early. If you are from a very different culture compared to that of the company location you're applying to, make sure you do your homework and understand the do's, dont's and ideal-if's.
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How Does Your Interviewer Like It?
Know who you'll be interacting with and how it matters.