An interview is a conversation between two or more people. The purpose is to discuss the scope, requirements and qualifications necessary for a specific job. All parties should come to the table prepared to ask questions and offer relevant information.
There are three kinds of information that the hiring manager or interview team is seeking: Can you do the job? Will you do the job? And, do you fit? And, if the truth be told, you want to answer these questions for yourself, too.
All interview questions revolve around issues of skill, motivation and likeability. Finding the right candidate is contingent upon identifying the person with the best combination of these factors.
In the course of conversations about the job, you want to be sure you are addressing the right underlying question. Before responding to the interviewer’s inquiry, ask yourself, “What is behind this question?”
If the interviewer is trying to determine if you have the right skills, you want to offer up examples that demonstrate your relevant skills.
This is not the time to go on about how loyal or hard working you are. It is common for an interviewer to first confirm that you meet the minimum skill requirements before moving on to the issues of motivation or fit.
Regardless of how motivated you may be, if you don’t have the requisite skills, the interviewer is unlikely to hire you. So, unless this is an entry-level position and the interview expects to train the right person, be prepared to sell me your skills first.
Never assume that the interviewer “knows” what your skills are or that they match his requirements. Before you walk in the door, know and be able to explain clearly and succinctly how your skills and experience meet the specific needs of the employer.
If the hiring manager has decided that you have the necessary skills, then you have cleared the first hurdle. Next, e will probably move on to questions that pinpoint your willingness to do the work.
Your answers should include on-the-job success stories that reflect situations that demonstrate your motivation to do the job. We have probably all worked with individuals who could do the job, but, unfortunately, were not all that interested in doing it.
That is the nightmare situation the hiring manager is trying to avoid by asking questions that determine your willingness to do the work.
Next is the issue of likeability, or fit. Once the interviewer has determined that you meet the minimum skill qualifications and confirmed that you are motivated to do the job, he needs to consider how well you will fit in with his department or company.
All things being equal, a hiring manager is more inclined to hire the candidate he likes over an equally qualified candidate that he does not. When all things are not equal, the interviewer is still likely to hire a minimally qualified candidate whom he likes over a more qualified candidate who scores lower on the likeability scale.
If you want to be a serious contender for the job, you must demonstrate that you at least meet the minimum job qualifications, offer relevant examples that reflect your motivation, and do so while projecting a genuine amiability.
Mary Jeanne Vincent is a career expert and strategist with a private coaching practice in Monterey. She may be reached at 831.657.9151 or firstname.lastname@example.org.