Articles about interviewing nearly always focus on the interviewee. Everyone is familiar with the expression “to really know a person is to walk a mile in their shoes”. Well, to know an interviewer you need to get inside his oxford lace up brown wing tip shoes, (I don’t mean to be sexist by selecting a man’s shoe, I just don’t know the female equivalent of the standard boring work dress shoe).
By understanding the demands, worries, concerns, corporate politics, and challenges confronting the interviewer, you will better understand the process and increase your chance of success.
The interviewer is more nervous than you are. Yes, nobody really thinks about it, but the interviewer is worried. The hiring manager is being judged by his or her decision.
•Will he hire the wrong person, and it will make him look bad in front of his manager?
•Will she hire a person who will play politics and push her aside?
•Will she hire a person that is a total loser and she will end up doing that person’s job as well as her own?
•Will the new person have to be fired because he can’t perform?
•Will the new person not work well with others in the group, and with other people at the company?
Interviewers are not trained or prepared on how to interview. Corporations for the most part do not offer training and preparation for managers to interview. For some reason, companies feel that they can march a person into an interview, tell them to interview someone, and it will work out just great.Often times, managers may not possess the social skills, charisma, charm, wit, mastery of small talk and schmooze, to pull off a successful interview without preparation and training. Think of yourself, are you the type of a person who can go to a party where you don’t know anyone and quickly ingratiate yourself with the crowd, or do you stand alone in the corner with a drink in your hand looking at the floor?
Interviewers who are not naturally gregarious may find themselves awkward, uncomfortable and distant in their approach, without doing it on purpose.
The catch 22 of being so busy is that you need help, but are too busy to get the help. Often times, a manager is given the approval to hire someone when it is too late. He is overworked, stressed and completely behind in his work. Now when it comes time to interview, he is distracted by looming deadlines, called away on daily business matters, and conducting the work of himself and the person that is being replaced. This partly explains the lurching back and forth interview process. When he has a moment he can interview, he is buried in work, and the interview process grinds to a halt.
The interviewer may be ill equipped to politically navigate the process through the corporate maze. To be effective in corporations, you need to understand how to work the machine. Some hiring managers may not know “how to play the game” and therefore the interview process goes stale and stagnates, since he does not know how to move the ball forward.
Everyone is worried about lawsuits concerning discrimination. Hiring managers are careful not to offend anyone since in today’s society we are quick to label someone with a bias and sue. Feedback may be sparse as the hiring manager is worried about inadvertently offending someone. Right or wrong, unfortunately they remain quiet and may not provide needed feedback.
Decision by consensus. The current trend in hiring calls for a candidate to meet with the manager, human resources, the manager’s boss, peers, underlings, business counterparts, and the cleaning crew. For a mid to senior level executive, this may entail 6 to 12 people over the course of 3 to 6 months. If a hiring manager likes the candidate, he still may appear neutral in his approach, as he knows that he also has to get the buy-in from a group of other people with competing interests and desires.
Deer in the headlights. Just like anyone else in their daily life, when it comes to making a big decision, it is easy to fall victim to “paralysis by analysis”. Some people can make important decisions in a quick, decisive and timely manner, while others need to spend hours, days, weeks, and months agonizing over the decision and then do nothing at all.
Here is how understanding the interviewer’s dilemma may help you succeed in the interview:
•By understanding the factors confronted by the hiring manager you could offer real solutions to their challenges.
•Politely smooth-out and gently help and guide the interview, if you sense trouble on the part of the interviewer.
•Don’t get offended if the hiring manager seems distracted or disinterested, as you now know it isn’t because of you.
•Subtly let her know that you can succeed in the job, won’t engage in internal politics, or try to outshine her.
•Present yourself as the person who will make her look good in the eyes of her manager.
•Project the image that you will represent a great hiring decision.
•Make yourself available for the never ending interviews, without complaint.
•Politely follow-up with the hiring manager during lulls.
•Ensure that you sell yourself to everyone you meet with, including the secretaries.
•Offer real tangible and sell-able reasons why you should by hired, so the hiring manager can take those “talking points” back to the others involved with the decision process, and sell you to them.