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Interview Time: Are you Ready?

You've landed the in-person interview, your favorite outfit is ready, you've got a fresh haircut perhaps, and you feel good!

Now let's go get that dream job you've been after...

But wait...

  • When does the interview actually start and end?

  • What should I consider to be part of the interview?

  • Who is my actual interviewer?

  • Would a potential employer try to test me outside of the 'formal' interview?

All too often I've seen candidates assume that the interview starts only after they've plopped down in the seat across the table from the recruiter or hiring manager... WRONG!

Honestly, the interview started way back when you applied, every interaction since when you hit "submit" on your application has been judged and noted in someone's mind.

Typically, at the end of the interview process for any candidate, there is a meeting involving everyone who was involved in the recruitment and interview processes. They sit around and talk about you! Is your ear ringing?

If the only person that can say anything positive about you is the final hiring manager, then it'll look like you just turned on the charm at the right time and are otherwise not a fit.

On the other hand, if everyone raves about you, you're off to a good start!

  • But who entails "everyone"?

Well, that depends on the company, but you would be best served to assume that everyone really means EVERYONE. More so, you would also be well served if you consider yourself "on stage" for a job any time you leave your house from the time you start applying for places until you've landed the new job.

Have you ever heard the story of the candidate who was rushing to their job interview, they get frustrated because the car in front of them isn't moving fast enough... the horn blares.

Hands (and gestures) wave out of the window at the other driver as they rip past him in a rage.

The candidate makes it to the interview to sit in a room waiting for the interview only to watch the man he just cut off walk in and sit down on the other side of the table.

Probably not the best first impression.

But that's just a story, right?

Well, in theory, that one is and it's more coincidental than an actual interview strategy.

However, there are MANY things employers have done in my past that were all small tests, for example:


Have you heard the saying:

"Dress for the role you want, not the role you have."?

This becomes important when you're starting to interview even outside of your company. When I have a candidate's resume in front of me, I now know where you currently work. If I want to test you out, there's no better opportunity than to see you in action with your current employer. 'Mystery Shopping' a candidate is absolutely a thing and I have seen it done at many companies, and yes, I personally do it whenever possible.



Do you follow instructions well?

Often our HR would give people very simple instructions...

  1. Arrive at this time

  2. Wear this type of attire

  3. Enter through this entrance and proceed to ______

  4. Bring two forms of ID

If you managed to not follow through on some basic instructions, the trust in you being able to complete the tasks of the job is already eroding. Make sure if you don't understand an instruction that you're asking for clarity, once you have clarity, make sure to follow the instruction.



Assume everyone is testing you!

You're sitting in the waiting room for an interview, the hiring manager is delayed and you're now a few minutes past your scheduled time. Another 'candidate' turns to you and says "can you believe this, how are they going to be late for the interview, if we were late, surely we wouldn't get hired".

While this could innocently be an actual candidate, this could also be a test where a staff member was sent to see if you would immediately start complaining about the delay, or if you would remain positive.



Will a distraction make you sink or swim?

You're walking down the hall and another staff member bumps into you and drops their paperwork everywhere! Oh no! Do you criticize or apologize, do you worry about them and help pick stuff up or do you worry about you and the interview and keep moving?

Again, could be an honest accident, could be a test to see how compassionate you are and how you'll prioritize a sudden problem vs. a scheduled responsibility. I have seen employers set up this interaction to see how people react.



What will your reaction be to:

Out-of-the-box thinking and nonsense?

You are called in for a group interview, in front of you there are some papers with random logical riddles/puzzles on them and a few pens. The interviewing supervisor says "We're just waiting on a few last candidates, while you're waiting, why don't you give the puzzles a shot?"

Full disclosure, we used to do this one in my office... it started off as something we put in there to really just kill some time, we originally didn't care if people did them or not. We found that they actually became valuable parts of the interview for two reasons:

  1. Would the person even try? One time, once they thought all of the hiring team was out of the room, we had a candidate say "so now we're not going to get the job if we can't answer this stupid riddle?"... no, you're not going to get the job because if you cannot hold your tongue when a stupid riddle is in front of you. Now, I'm worried about what you'll say to the first customer that approaches you and asks something you feel is dumb. (FYI: we went against better judgment here and hired that candidate, she was not good with stupid questions being asked and had frequent complaints)

  2. What type of answer did they give us? Even if the riddle didn't get solved the "proper way", how the person answered actually revealed a lot. Did they at least follow the rules of the riddle, did they find inventive ways to comply with the rules and get the job done, even if it wasn't the way you would have done it? All of this actually ended up unintentionally helping us learn about them.



Congratulations! You landed the job, the interview is over... or is it?

While you've completed the technical interviewing portion of the process and you've been extended a position with the company, now is NOT the time to get complacent and think you can coast along. Many companies bring you in for a 90-day probationary period, during which time they can end your employment for "failure to complete probation" for any reason.

During those first 90-days you're still being evaluated and tested, it is best to learn as much as you can, be open to change and growth, and remember YOU chose to move on to a new company and a new position.

Perhaps learn how they do things before you start suggesting how your old company used to do things. After all, if how they did it was so great, why did you leave?

Build relationships with everyone you can by learning from them, learning about them, and showing them you're going to be a valuable asset to them and the team.

If you made it past your 90-days, congratulations... the interview is pretty much over!

Until next time, be great today and better tomorrow! #GreatTodayBetterTomorrow

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