June 21, 2018

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Your Interview Environment

Most job seekers think the interview begins the moment they stand up to greet the person interviewing them. This is false. An interview is a two-way street, so your interview should begin the moment you walk through the company’s door. In your haste to make a good impression, don’t forget to keep your eyes open and your senses tuned to what’s taking place around you.

Is there a receptionist? How is the phone answered? Do any employees wander out to ask the receptionist a question? Are they terse or chatty? Do they scuttle away quickly when your interviewer appears? And do you find yourself smiling at what’s going on around you, or becoming even more nervous than you were when you came in the door?

On your way to the interviewer’s office, odds are you’ll be walking through some part of the company. Notice what’s going on around you. Are people jovially discussing different projects? Or intently bent over their computers, silently at work? Do you hear laughter? How are the employees moving from one place to another? What is their interaction like?

Depending on your awareness level, you may or may not pick these cues up cognitively, but you are registering them nonetheless. So the main question here is: while you’ve been waiting, and as you walk through the company to the interviewer’s office, how do you feel? And is that feeling agreeable to you? For instance, silence or conversational buzz is neither good nor bad. What’s important is how you feel about it and whether you can work in that environment.

What if your interviewer forgot he had an appointment with you? Does he apologize and reschedule? Stop what he’s doing and conduct the interview anyway? If you have meetings with multiple people, does someone bring you to the next office?

One person I know was conducting her own job search. Having passed the screening interview, she was to meet with all four of the company’s principles in the same afternoon. The first one was out of town. The second one was rude and insulting. The third one made her wait. She actually stayed to interview with the fourth one! The time to leave was somewhere during – or certainly after – the second interview. Why they brought her back for these interviews is another subject entirely.

In a more functional environment, she would have been written in on each principal’s calendar and anticipated. The secretary/receptionist would have offered her something to drink. She would have been led to each person’s office, instead of having been pointed in the direction she was to go.

Factors other than the people who work there are important too. What’s the light source? Is it artificial or are there windows? Will you have an office or a cubicle? What floor will you be on? If you don’t have visual access to the outside, will that affect your emotional level and thus your work?

When you walk into a company you form an impression almost instantly, in the same way you do when you enter a strange room or party, or meet a new person. That impression comes from the energy level you are picking up subconsciously. It sends a signal to your gut – thus your “gut instinct” about what’s going on, even though you might not be able to pinpoint any specifics.

Although it’s wise to pay attention to the details, If your concentration during the interview was focused on what you learned during the conversation, it doesn’t matter. Because while you were paying attention to the larger cues, your gut instinct picked up the smaller ones – and it’s often the small ones that are telling. Whatever that gut instinct is telling you – trust it – especially if you’re getting a bad vibe. It can be the difference between happiness and misery a few months down the line.

- Judi Perkins


Judi Perkins has been a search consultant for 25 years in both the contingency and retained market, with a short stint in the temporary and local permanent placement markets. She has owned her own firm and successfully assisted numerous repeat clients in hiring all levels of management. She is a Career Expert and Forum Moderator with Go here to sign up for her newsletter or learn thousands of powerful concepts to Find The Perfect Job

Copyright: Judi Perkins, VisionQuest

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