Extreme Job Search Strategies
Types of Interviewers
There are two terrible places to be during an interview--sitting in front of the desk wondering what on earth is going to happen next, and sitting behind the desk asking the questions. The average interviewer dreads the meeting almost as much as the interviewee, yet for opposite reasons.
There are two distinct types of interviewers who can spell disaster for you if you are unprepared. One is the highly skilled interviewer, who has been trained in systematic techniques for probing your past for all the facts and evaluating your potential. The other is the totally incompetent interviewer, who may even lack the ability to phrase a question adequately. Both are equally anxiety producing!
The Skillful Interviewer
Skillful interviewers know exactly what they want to discover. They have taken exhaustive steps to learn the strategies that will help them hire only the best for their company. They follow a set format for the interview process to ensure the facts are gathered. They will definitely test your mettle.
There are many ways for a manager to build and conduct a structured interview, but all have the same goals:
Someone using structured interview techniques will usually follow a standard format. The interview will begin with small talk and a brief introduction to relax you. Following close on the heels of that chit-chat comes a statement geared to assure you that baring your faults is the best way to get the job. Your interviewer will then outline the steps in the interview. That will include you giving a chronological description of your work history, and then the interviewer asking specific questions about your experience. Then, prior to the close of the interview, you will be given an opportunity to ask your own questions.
Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, watch out! The skillful interviewer knows exactly what questions to ask, why they will be asked, in what order they will be asked, and what the desired responses are. He or she will interview and evaluate every applicant for the job in exactly the same fashion. You are up against a pro.
The tricky part of this type of structured interview is called “skills evaluation.” The interviewer has analyzed all the different skills it takes to do the job, and all the personality traits that complement those skills. Armed with that data, he or she has developed a series of carefully-sequenced questions to draw out your relative merits and weaknesses.
To get an idea of what they will be looking for, think about the following:
Each job skill you identify is fertile ground for the interviewer’s questions. Don’t forget the intangible skills that are so important to many jobs, like self-confidence and creativity, because the interviewer won’t. That’s the way managers are trained to develop structured interview questions.
The Unconscious Incompetent
Now you should be ready for almost anything a professional interviewer could throw at you. That’s when you face the unconsciously incompetent interviewer.
The problem is embodied in the experienced manager who is a poor interviewer, but who doesn’t know it. He or she, consciously or otherwise, bases hiring decisions on “experience” and “knowledge of people” and “gut feeling.” In any event, he or she is an unconscious incompetent. You have probably been interviewed by one at some point. Do you remember leaving an interview and, after thinking about it, feeling the interviewer knew absolutely nothing about you or your skills? If so, you know how frustrating that can be. Here, you'll see how to turn that difficult situation to your advantage. In the future, good managers who are poor interviewers will be offering jobs with far greater frequency than ever before. Understand that a poor interviewer can be a wonderful manager; interviewing skills are learned, not inherited.
As in handling the skilled interviewer, it is necessary to imagine how the unconscious incompetent thinks and feels. There are many manifestations of the poor interviewer. After each of the next examples, follow instructions for appropriate handling of the unique problems each type poses for you.
Example One: The interviewer's desk is cluttered, and the resume or application that was handed to him or her a few minutes before can’t be found.
Example Two: The interviewer experiences constant interruptions from the telephone or people walking into the office.
Example Three: The interviewer starts with an explanation of why you are both sitting there, and then allows the conversation to degenerate into a lengthy diatribe about the company.
Example Four: The interviewer begins with, or quickly breaks into, drawbacks of the job. The job may even be described in totally negative terms. That is often done without giving a balanced view of the duties and expectations of the position.
Example Five: The interviewer spends considerable time early in the interview describing “the type of people we have at XYZ Corporation.”
Example Six: The interviewer asks closed-ended questions, ones that demand no more than a yes/no answer (e.g. “Do you pay attention to detail?”). Such questions are hardly adequate to establish your skills, yet you must handle them effectively to get the job offer.
Example Seven: The interviewer asks a continuing stream of negative questions (as described in the topic “The Stress Interview”).
Example Eight: The interviewer has difficulty looking at you while speaking.