Dr. Ima Hirin answers your questions about interviews, careers, and how to succeed.
Q: What is an interviewer looking for during an interview beyond just identifying a potential new employee?
A: I’m glad you asked! Interview theory says past performance and behavior are the single most reliable factors known in predicting future performance and behavior. Despite the perception that a job interview is a high-risk activity, the personal stakes are actually quite low. This doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t be well prepared for each interview, but it means that you can remain positive throughout the stressful experience. When you walked into the interview you didn’t have the job, and when you walk out of the interview the very worst outcome is that you still don’t have the job. Your value as a human being is not determined by your success in an interview! Placing that level of importance on an interview just isn’t accurate.
There are three fairly standard outcomes in mind for every interviewer. As you prepare for your next interview keep these in mind. Interviewers seek to confirm:
- Competency – Do you have the ability to do the job? Does your work history exhibit that you have handled similar tasks in the past? Have you demonstrated competence through technical means like an eSET certificate, ETCP certification, union membership, or through your connections with others who can vouch for you?
- Compatibility – Will you “fit in” within this work environment? What is the culture of the organization? What is your personality? How do you come off? How are your people skills? What is your motivation for the job?
- Acceptability – Do you have any flaws that prevent you from being an effective employee? Can you pass a background check? Do you have a pattern of rehire? Have you had a diversity of experiences in your work history?
Put another way:
Can you do the job? – What are the STENGTHS that you bring?
Will you love the job? – What is your MOTIVATION for wanting to be a part of our team?
Will we enjoy working with you on the job? – Will you FIT into our organization?
Interviews are inherently stressful, but the more prepared you are, the better you chances for success.