“Finding a job that is a good fit is as much about you selecting the right company as it is about them selecting the right candidate.”
― Miles Anthony Smith
Interviews are a Two-Way Street
In today’s job market, there is a detail regarding interviews that is seldom covered or understood. An unbelievable number of those looking to improve or change their career paths are overwhelmed as it is, but once they reach the interview they are either unprepared or draw a blank. We’ve all been in an interview that seemed to only go wrong. In fact, the reason we fear future interviews is that the fear of failure looms over us as if we must be flawless. It often feels like the most minuscule mistake will ruin our career path, but it is not true. In most professional situations, the person interviewing you is either a recruiter, or better yet an employee who has flaws, knows the organization, and has been in your shoes. However, no matter who is interviewing an important fact remains: you are also interviewing them.
Nothing is owed to the company until you are hired. What I mean by that is you don’t have to work for that organization. Part of the job search is figuring out where your fit. Getting to know the organization first hand is just as important to you as doing well in the interview. In my opinion, the most important part of the interview is when you ask the questions. Aside from proving your interest in their organization, asking those conducting the interview questions will allow you to build a window into what will be expected of you, and what you can expect from the company, namely culture. The following are my tips on “how to interview the interviewer”.
- Do research – If you don’t already, start researching the company and their current events before you ever go in to interview. Note any concerns this may spark and use it in the interview to both express your interest in the organization and gain the knowledge you wouldn’t otherwise have. When the interviewer talks, they will be giving you their opinions of the company from the inside. On top of this, you become relatable to the interviewer. Holding a conversation in an interview allows you to be personable and they will start to like you more without any effort. By being an informed interviewee you will impress anyone you’re talking to, and have more info to decide is it’s a fit for you.
- Remember names – The second the interview starts, learn the names of the interviewers, along with any facts they may mention when introducing themselves. I always bring a padfolio with any documents I may need including relevant portfolio items and copies of my resume. This is a great place to take notes during the interview. That may seem abnormal to you, but taking notes shows initiative, genuine interest, and most of all, you’ll remember things. Use their names when you talk to them. People consider their names incredibly important, so using it both affirms that you care and cements it into your mind. The day after interview send them a letter letting them know that you appreciate their time and interest. Add a call to action asking them to keep you updated on the process. This helps them remember you as a professional. An email will be fine, calling is great. I prefer a hand-written letter with my contact card. It makes my name and my impression tangible.
- They are not out to get you – Contrary to popular belief, most interviews are not intended to break you down or make you trip up. The purpose is to find out who you are, and if you’re their best candidate. In general, interviewers are not malicious. I understand being nervous about impressing them but fearing them isn’t worth the effort. The best way to overcome that fear is through practice and understanding.
I enjoy interviews for the learning experience and opportunities they afford. Instead of feeding the anxious feeling you have, turn it into excitement for the future. Interviews are a first step to the next chapter of your life. Learn, give, and take. When leaving the interview think “thank you” not a sigh of relief.