WARNING: SOME OF THEM ARE PRETTY WEIRD
Think your interviewer only cares about your skills, experience and whether you’ll fit in? Think again — that’s just for starters. Dan Hawes, founder of graduate recruitment agency Graduate Recruitment Bureau, tells Graduate Fog what your interviewer is really thinking…
“CAN I TRUST THIS PERSON?”
No, they’re not being paranoid — trust is a really important issue for employers. “If you get the job, it’s likely you’ll be privy to confidential information, so any interviewer will be sizing you up and asking ‘Is this person honest — and can I trust them?'” says Hawes. “Before they give you any responsibility, they’ll want to be sure they can count on you.”
DO: Reassure them with plenty of examples from your past work experience. “In particular, highlight moments when you had real responsibility for a work related project or a leader of a team that were counting on you,” says Hawes.
DON’T: Be tempted to fib — about anything, however small. “Trust is a basic human instinct and getting caught lying — even about something small — will make your interviewer doubt everything else you’ve said.”
“WILL THIS PERSON QUIT AFTER A YEAR?”
Yes, we know — all you care about is Getting The Job. But your interviewer is thinking long-term — even if you’re not. “Graduate recruiters aren’t just looking for someone who can do the job now, they’re after someone who will stick around. If they hire you, they’ll invest a great deal of time and money into you, so they want to know you’re not going to vanish the minute something better comes along,” says Hawes.
DO: Show interest in the organisation’s long-term goals. “Ask about a particular project they are investing in or, better still, how you hope to play a part in shaping their future.”
DON’T: Seem desperate. “Be cool. Try to think beyond how this job will help you pay off your debts and instead ask searching questions. Show you have a genuine interest in this company in particular — and you are taking the decision seriously as you intend to stick around.”
“DOES THIS PERSON HAVE REAL POTENTIAL?”
It’s easy to forget, but you’re not just being interviewed for this job, you’re also being interviewed for the next one up, and the one after that… “Companies love promoting people who are already work at the company — for one thing, ‘internal hires’ are cheaper than finding someone externally, as there are no recruiters’ fees to pay or expensive adverts to buy,” says Hawes. “However junior the role seems, they will be asking themselves whether they can see you doing a more senior job at the company in a few years’ time.”
DO: Demonstrate your natural ability to lead. “Even if this job doesn’t involve taking charge, it’s good to show you can take the initiative if the situation demands it.”
DON’T: Be shy. “This is your chance to talk about your strong points. Give examples of past successes and have conviction in your potential, as well as your current skills and ability.”
“WILL THIS PERSON MAKE OUR COMPANY LOOK GOOD?”
Any kind of job will most probably require visits or tasks outside of the office, such as attending networking events, meetings or conferences. “Therefore wherever you go, you will always be a representation of the company you are working for,” Hawes explains. “This means that employers will be looking for someone who is approachable, friendly, professional and polite as they will want the company to be reflected well in any sort of situation.”
DO: Talk about former employers politely and professionally (yes even if they were vile). “Bad-mouthing your previous boss is a ‘red flag’ for interviewers. They’ll instantly start to wonder whether it’s you who is a troublemaker.”
DON’T: Slouch or mumble. “Be smart, maintain eye contact, give a firm handshake and watch your posture. These are all things your interviewer will expect you to when you meet clients or potential clients. First impressions can make a huge difference so work on it.”
“WILL THIS PERSON MAKE ME LOOK GOOD?”
You always suspected it but now you know for sure — your interviewer has an ego to protect. “Put yourself in their shoes,” Hawes explains. “If you are a hiring manger, you’d be looking to impress your boss with your choice of candidate, wouldn’t you? Don’t forget that if you get the job you will be their choice — in other words, a reflection of their judgement and decision-making skills. Which is another reason why it’s essential you make a good impression personally.”
DO: Be nice. “It’s not hard to be pleasant to the interviewer (and everyone you meet in the office beforehand). You want to come across as a co-operative and trustworthy person.”
DON’T: Be a smart arse. “You don’t need to pretend you know it all — that can actually be a bad thing. If they hire you, they’ll want to mould you to their way of doing things so being closed to new ideas or even arrogant is going to go against you. Looking interested and open to new ideas is a much better look.”
*HAVE YOU HAD ANY INTERVIEWS?
How did you get on? If they were a disaster, what went wrong? If you got the job, why do you think they hired you? Has your technique improved, the more interviews you’ve done? Do you have any tips for overcoming pre-interview nerves?