Would you believe that a great number of employment interviewers in the business world today do not know how to interview an applicant? Show them that you know the process better than they do -- without letting them know you know!
Interviewers are people, too. They rise from their beds each morning - some on the right side, some on the wrong -- they report to work, and they make or break a career or two. Some are good, capable interviewers, knowing exactly what kind of employee to hire, how to extract the best answers from a candidate, and finally, how to choose the right person (you, of course) for the job. Other interviewers have little knowledge in the interrogation arena: They make mistakes. They confuse. They aggravate. They create ill will -- or at the very least, indifference. They choose someone else for a position you know should have been yours.
But please don't condemn these masquerading decision-makers. Many of them have been thrown the big, but reasonably flat, employment ball; and have been forced to run great lengths with it -- even though they may not know how to play the game or where the goal posts truly are. Many employers are saddled with the unpleasant task of choosing new employees when they have never (or rarely) had the opportunity to conduct an interview. Possibly another staff member handled this chore previously, or perhaps this is a new position for the interviewer. Could it be that this person is not part of the management team and does not know the finer points of tearing an applicant to shreds? All things are possible in the world of employment.
Strangely enough, many interviewers are as afraid of you as you are of them. However, the only real advantage these people have over you is their possession of the job you want -- a big consideration, to be sure, but one that can be successfully dealt with. Before going further then, take a moment to differentiate between a good interviewer and a bad interviewer.
Janey Hunter, a well-trained computer technician, recently attended an employment interview (or more aptly put, an inquisition), and came back rattled. "This guy asked me every question in the book! He wanted to know my opinions and experiences on all kinds of things. He asked about my goals, how I would handle myself in various situations -- just everything!" She paused. "Actually, it went quite well." Most likely, Janey had encountered a good interviewer. This person took the time to ask many questions covering both job-related and hypothetical situations. He watched her closely for enthusiasm and technical knowledge. Surely, by Janey's answers and display of good attitude, the employer was able to gain valuable insight regarding her possible success with his company. The shredding was not a shredding at all. And Janey felt as though she had a chance at this position. Anthony Johns attended a similar interview. He shook hands with the interviewer and smiled a lot. That was all he could do. The interviewer began talking position and other related company policies - not asking Anthony any questions, opinions, or inviting discussion. The employer talked. Anthony listened. Finally, the interviewer said, "Well, we'll be making a decision next week and you will be hearing from us soon." Anthony came away having no idea how the interview went.
This was a poor interviewer who did not find out what the applicant's abilities were or whether he would be suited for a position with the firm. Anthony's only hope was that the interviewer would (at a later date) be impressed with his resume and application -- or possibly the care he took with his appearance. (Appearances do count.)
How to successfully handle good and bad interviewers is the pertinent question here with a fundamental answer. When facing a good interviewer, know your stuff. When confronted with a bad interviewer, know you stuff better. Always be prepared to discuss any part of your background, abilities, goals or any item a prospective employer might want or need to know to make a favorable decision about you.
When dealing with someone aware of appropriate interviewing techniques, this will be enough. A person with faulty interviewing skills will require you to be a bit more clever. You must be able to jump into a conversation (tactfully) and take the lead without that person realizing you are controlling the dialogue. This takes practice.
For example; when Anthony was listening to the long-winded description regarding the position he was applying for, he might have waited for the interviewer to take a breath or pause and then quickly interject a positive statement about himself. ("How interesting that your organization has such an important view toward customer satisfaction. In my last position with ABC Company, I was voted Service Representative of the Year for my special knack with problem solving and customer relations.") Take an interviewer's words and turn them to your favor. This may invoke further discussion -- at least, this is the aim. Regardless, if you interject a good fact about yourself, you will have given the interviewer something to remember about you.
Though it may not seem easy to control a conversation, knowing your finest points and listening closely to the talker should allow you the opportunity to introduce your qualifications. If not, waiting until the end of the employer's barrage of words and drawing him or her back to key points you want to discuss will allow you to add to the discussion. This method is not easy to institute, but it can at least put your skills on the table.
Knowing yourself well enough to manage a discussion will help you get through a bad interviewer situation. Remember that your confidence, enthusiasm, and ability will not go unnoticed unless you allow it to. Make sure the employer knows what you have to offer.
So, smile at the good interviewers. They're doing their jobs. And smile at the bad interviewers. They're allowing you to help them do their job. Either way, the idea is to get the job.
Being prepared will help you overcome employers not knowing how to properly interview you. The following steps can help put you on top.
Listen closely to the interviewer and do not try to formulate ideas to project while he or she is talking.
Identify, as quickly as possible, that interviewer who will not be allowing you talk-time. Notice breathing patterns. This will give you an idea of when breaks for natural interruptions will be occurring.
Be intimately aware of every slice of information listed on your application, resume, and in your background. Be able to discuss each point to the finest degree.
Choose your interjected topic well -- you may not have a lot of chances. Make your words count by using your best qualifications.
Do not spend too much time grieving over a lost position -- even if it was due to a lack of interview skill on the employer's part. Learn from the experience and set up another interview as soon as feasible with a new prospect.
Never give up!