I don’t know how many times a client (or a candidate in my search days) would return from an interview with the feedback: “It went really well” — usually followed by “I knocked all the questions out of the park.” We learn later than they didn’t make the cut to the next round.
So what happened?
The candidate focus is usually on the “right answer” as in taking a college exam. They are focused so much that they ignore everything they learned about basic communication skills. They typically talk too much in a response to insure that the interviewer has enough information.
Except for a technical screen (engineers etc.), there is no “right answer” to interview questions. In fact, most of the candidates for the position will have the right answer.
So how is the selection made if everyone has the right answer?
I once wrote that there are really only 3 basic questions asked by the hiring manager:
1. Can you do the job?
This is where the “right answer” has limited impact. It’s almost “assumed” that you have the quantitative skills to do the job. These are usually screened via the telephone interview.
2. Do you have a passion for doing the job?
There is a big difference in the two responses: “I can do that job” and “I am very excited (from your soul here) about this position”.
3. Will we like you doing the job?
This is a biggie. What is the fit with the culture? The team? The hiring manager? You have no control over this. And yes this is a way for companies to discriminate in their hiring practices.
What is the weight on each one of the above questions today?
Well let’s say it’s about 25% for #1; 30% for #2 and about 45% for #3.
Consider the following when you interview:
The most “qualified” candidate often does not get the offer.
It is the candidate who interviews the best. In sports, the best team on paper does not always win. The winner is usually the team that plays the best on that day (My San Francisco Forty Niners notwithstanding)
Miscommunication between 2 people is always the fault of the sender.
The sender did not take the time to be sure that the receiver was ready and primed to receive and understand. This is similar to what my fellow parents call “a teaching moment”.
Never volunteer anything in an interview.
This always leads to “TMI” – too much information. Give them what they ask for – no more or no less. An experienced interviewer will drill down on the points they want to explore in greater depth
Be fully present in the interview.
There are cues flying at you: verbal, visual via body language etc. One of the most powerful ways to establish credibility is when the person knows you are really listening to them.
It’s entirely your responsibility to connect the dots that demonstrate your relevancy to their needs. Work with the interviewer in a collaborative way to determine “the fit”. Then, if “rejection” comes, the “fit” wasn’t right.
If you receive the rejection that way, you will rebound from that notice. It wasn’t about you. You didn’t “blow” the interview.
Like in the movie “The Godfather”, “it’s just business – nothing personal.” The good news? You won’t get “whacked.”
Thanks Dani P.L. for the photo via flickr