What is your interviewer actually looking for?
- June 29, 2018
Over the past few months, we’ve given a considerable amount
of advice on how to write a CV that will make a hiring manager sit up and take
note and how to nail a job interview amongst various other things. However,
we’re regularly asked what a job interviewer is actually looking for and what
they’re thinking when they meet a candidate.
It’s perfectly natural to feel nervous and slightly uneasy
in an interview, after all, it’s an important process and one that could shape
your career prospects for years to come. Getting a job, as we all know, can
change lives – particularly if it’s one you’re desperately keen to get – so
it’s hardly surprising that for many people, interviewing can be highly
However, it helps to get inside the head of an interviewer
and put yourself in their shoes. If you were hiring for your own company, what
traits and skills would you be looking for?
Are they who they say
This may sound obvious, but you’d be blown away by the
number of people who openly lie on their CV. It’s easy to make yourself sound
employable on your application if you just lie and any experienced hirer will
likely want to run through your CV to clarify that you are who you say you are
and that you’ve done what you’ve said you’ve done. They’ll probably want to
throw a few open ended questions at you to allow you to talk through your CV in
your own time and – as long as you are telling the truth – this should come
naturally. It’s important to remember to consider how your past experiences can
help you carry out the role. So rather than simply stating what you did, try
and use examples and make a link with what you’ve done in your past and how it
could help you in the position you’re applying for.
One of the hardest things for an interviewer to gauge is
whether the person sitting opposite them will fit into their current line-up.
There are two distinct schools of thought. Some people like building teams with
‘disruptive’ characters who can challenge the status quo and create results and
innovation by being different. Others recognise the value of employing people
who can get on with their current employees and won’t upset the apple cart.
Unfortunately, there’s no golden solution to this and if the employer doesn’t
think you’ll work at their company for whatever reason, they’re unlikely to
take you on. Your best bet is to be yourself. Your true personality will reveal
itself further down the line and putting on a persona only raises the risk of
you not actually being well suited to the organisation.
Are you up to the
Finally – and perhaps most obviously – the interviewer will
want to know whether you’ve actually got the skills to do the job. This is
where pinning examples to things you’ve done in your past really becomes
valuable. If you can actually highlight times when you’ve made a difference to
your former employer it saves them the task of linking your skills with the job
specification and working out whether you’re cut out for the role. Others will
do it in their interview and if a hiring manager has an obvious fit for a role,
they’re hardly likely to think about other candidates quite so much. It also
doesn’t come down to what you just say. If the role involves a lot of
interaction with senior partners or associates then you’ll want to consider
your speech patterns and ways of communicating. In addition, you should
consider any obvious reasons why the company wouldn’t hire you and don’t let the interviewer jump to their own
conclusions (which they will). If your CV shows signs of job hopping, for
example, then provide reasons for why you’ve done so ahead of being asked.