Since it’s on my mind now, I’d like to talk about the job interview.
It’s taken me a long time to come to a few realizations about job interviews. I’ve been on a lot of interviews over the decades, but I know there are still a lot of things I need to learn (and practice). Needless to say, I didn’t get the majority of the jobs I interviewed for. Why not?! What’s wrong with me?!
Recently I have found myself on the other side of the interview process: the interviewer (or rather, part of an interview team). As I think about my experiences over the past decades as interviewee and interviewer, I have finally figured out a few things. This is all up for debate, of course, so send me your thoughts and experiences…let’s discuss!
So, you’re called to come in for an interview. The good news? If you are brought in for an interview, you are deemed qualified for the job!
What about the interview day? What should you do? How should you prepare? There’s all that advice you read about: talk about the impacts you’ve made in your current and previous jobs, highlight how your experience and aspirations align with the job you’re applying for, discuss a few things about the new job that you’re particularly interested in, etc.
Yes, all those things are important. But you know what? The biggest reason people are brought in for an interview is so the interviewers can find the person who best fits their team. It has a lot more to do with personality – yours and theirs – than your experiences, skills or knowledge.
Remember, if you’re called in for an interview, they already think you’re qualified for the job. What they want is to find someone who would work well with the team.
When I look back at the jobs I’ve been offered vs. the jobs I didn’t get, it explains everything. One of my first jobs was in a criminal law firm. I interviewed with the senior partner and left the interview convinced I wasn’t getting the job. He spent the entire time telling me stories, and I never got a chance to highlight any of my qualifications. Looking back, I realize that the senior partner thrived in an environment filled with diverse people. We were all so different! There was Chris, the African-American guy with a second degree black belt in some martial arts, Kathy, the loud, energetic Italian woman with a huge laugh, Jon, the super tall and slightly uncoordinated goof ball, Devon, the devout Mormon and former college football player, Sharie, the bleeding heart Jewish liberal…the list goes on. I think I was hired to bring a new ethnicity into the mix.
The jobs I’ve been offered were by interviewers who I hit it off with during the interview process. I’m sure you’ve heard people comment how they hired someone because that person reminded them of themselves when they were that age? Or you know teams where everyone seems to have similar personality traits: they have similar senses of humor, they all tend to be introverted or extroverted, and they have the same sincerity or drive…you get the picture.
The question is: If this is the case, if interviewers tend to hire people who are like themselves or fit a personality niche they’re seeking, what can you do about it? If you go into an interview and the interviewer is an extroverted, energetic person but you’re an introverted, laid-back person, do you try to channel an extroverted, enthusiastic energy?
I don’t know. If you really want the job, it might help to align your personality a bit with the interviewer’s personality. Or it might make sense to just be yourself.
What are your thoughts? Do you have any suggestions or tips to win that interview?