Updated: Dec 11, 2020
My observations from both sides of the interview chair.
Given that the unemployment rate is at an all-time high, I wanted to shed some light on interviews. This does not imply right or wrong, just my observations from the hundreds of interviews that I have completed over the years.
Being prepared for an interview.
Do not apply for a job just because you need a job, be qualified for the position. With unemployment levels higher than usual, employers can and will be picky.
Carefully consider who you are interviewing with and do some research about the interviewer to be relatable on at least one personal or professional topic. If you do not know who you are interviewing with then do some research on top level executives or, at minimum, the head of the department you are interviewing for.
Know what the company does by reading over the information available online or through social media and then read it again to ensure you understand the business strategy because they will ask. You never know you may figure out you are not interested in working for the company based on your research.
Do not be like everyone else with prepared canned answers. If you have to Google “The Best Answers to the Top 10 Interview Question” then you are not a genuine person. Let your true colors come out because the employer will figure it out soon enough.
Be creative as that is what the interviewer will remember. Do not be scared to stand out. And no, I do not mean showing up in a crop top shirt. Your first impression may be the only impression have to make, so make it count.
Side note story. This does not have to just apply to the interviewee but can also apply to the interviewer. One time I was interviewing a person and I decided to put on some rainbow shag leg warmers while wearing professional work attire and walk into the interview just to break the ice. I ended up hiring the person and they still tell the story 5 years later. This is what I mean when I say to make a first impression. Professional sprinkled with a little humor.
“Make a first impression, professional sprinkled with a little humor. ”
Asking the right questions during an interview as the interviewee.
Start by building some rapport and if you did your homework you should have plenty tricks you can pull from your bag about the person that is interviewing you. Interviewers are people too and they like to be able to relate with the interviewee. So, jump off the cliff and talk about personal experience no matter what side of the table you are on. Asking a personal question implies to the interviewer that you are not just a robot on an interview.
Ask about the company culture. If they have no answer run out of the room because you will hate it there or you may discover that you are the oldest person in a sea of millennials and it is not the right fit for you.
Ask about the bad parts of the job because the good parts will always be talked about. It is the other stuff you really need to get to the bottom of before accepting a job offer.
Ask if anyone else has been in the role you are applying for and why they left the company. I know people are saying this question cannot be answered, but you did not ask the name of the person, their blood type, and the exact reason for the termination. This answer will let you know what is expected of you in the position and it will catch most interviewers off guard, and you may get some juicy details.
Ask questions of the interviewer that imply your long-term desires. Examples asked of me include:
How did you get to the top at such a young age? Now this could be a line of crap or it could imply the question asked illustrates a desire to excel in a job and that they do not plan on settling. This also gives you some intel on the candidate as you know they need to be challenged to stay long-term.
Why did you come to this company? This question implies they are not just looking for a job but a place they may enjoy working long-term. No employer fills a position with the intent to have to refill it over-and-over again. Many jobs last longer than marriages, so take your time and select a job you want to stay committed to.
When no questions are asked it implies to me that you are not interested in the company, people, or the job. A job interview is not the time to be nervous or shy. Your job is a place you will spend the majority of your hours awake five days a week, so come to the interview as if you were having a conversation with a close friend about a serious topic. Get in there and be yourself and get the answers you need. As much as you need a job, the company needs an employee. It is a two-way street.