No longer are hiring decisions made after just one interview. To make sure the best hire is made, candidates can expect to have multiple interviews in multiple formats representing different levels within the company.
As mentioned in the previous parts of this discussion on “Getting hired”, we now cover the most difficult portion of the hiring process: the interview process.
I say “process” because today’s focus on hiring for the very best fit has forced the most subjective part of the hiring process to include multiple exposures to the candidates and experience in different levels of the company.
The job description and shortlisting depend on the job description provided to HR and the information provided on the application as it is filtered using a point system based on the best numerical match with the description. That said, job descriptions can be misleading as they may have been changed but not updated. Indeed, the actual requirements of the job may not be clearly defined within the context of the current reality of the actual job description.
Typically, the interview process will start out with an HR person or manager of the appropriate department. During this interview, the candidate is asked detailed questions to verify the work and training experience as well as assess the candidate within the context of the company's cultural fit. If all goes well with the first interview, the second interview is typically with the direct hiring manager for the position. The interview with the direct manager is the most difficult one because the manager will be subjectively placing the candidate within the existing context of the job. The candidate usually has no idea what the dynamic of the actual work environment is. For example, the interviewing manager may be looking for someone who will follow orders and not challenge. The manager may be protecting their turf by avoiding potential competitors for their position. Because of these unknown variables, the candidate must be observant and try to read what type of management style the interviewer may have. In fact, this is a good place for the candidate to turn the tables and be the first to ask questions. For example, “What do you expect from your staff?”,“What do you not like from your staff?”, "What would I need to accomplish in the first 90 days and the first 12 months for you to say that I have made an outstanding contribution?" If you can gain insight into the manager style, you will be better prepared to answer questions within the context of the job.
Of course, when it comes to one person judging another, there are numerous subconscious factors that can influence the outcome. The best that can be done to prepare is to follow the following simple checklist...
1) Plan to arrive early for the interviews - never be late.
2) Practice the interview and anticipate the questions that may be asked - have another person act as the interviewer (particularly for the more subjective questions).
3) Always tell the truth. In fact, talking about your weaknesses or failures is a good way to create rapport and trust with the interviewer.
4) Don’t gossip or speak negatively about your past or current employers.
5) Get a good night’s sleep before the interview and walk in with a positive and friendly attitude. Remember, the interviewers were in your same position at one time. Imagine that the interviewers are on your side and want you to succeed.
6) Do not be over anxious or openly aggressive about getting hired - be relaxed.
7) Never talk about salary or benefits until the interviewer brings up the subject.
The final level of the interview, while not as difficult as the manager level, is easier but can be every bit as important: being interviewed by fellow workers. If they are not in your corner, then it will be hard for the manager to select you. As a general suggestion, during this interview, it is best to be humble and not talk too much about yourself or your strengths or weaknesses - smile a lot.
If you do not get hired, try to find out why you were not chosen so you can make adjustments on your next interview. Now, most employers may not want to go on record as to why you were not hired, but if you phrase your request as an attempt to help learn what needs to be improved, you may get a response that you can work with. It’s worth a try.
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