Despite having been through a fair number of interviews in my life, I have not once imagined how the process would be from an interviewer’s perspective.
Starting with interviews to crack into a top-notch B-school to internships to jobs to promotions — each one of those interviews helped me in introspecting, collecting my thoughts and showcasing my achievements.
I aced a few and failed a few, but never really thought of what’s going on in the interviewer’s mind.
However, recently I was on the other side of the table, and I learned something that I never knew in those umpteen times when I faced an interviewer.
Here are the top 3 things that interviewers do not tell you.
1) They are skim-reading your resume
They are most likely scanning through your 10–15 years of work for less than 10–15 mins.
You must understand they are juggling other priorities. They are under pressure so make their job easy for them.
While it is an absolute must that hiring managers invest time to understand the candidate, what can help the interviewer would be if they receive the critical data points they are looking for rather easily in the resume.
- Keep your resume short and concise
- Highlight your achievements
- Remove any jargons or abbreviations
- Simplify your role to the extent that even a 6-year old can understand
2) They compare you to a baseline
They have a certain expectation — and they try to measure every candidate to that baseline
When you have worked long enough in a role, you know the processes, the activities, the product and more or less what works and what doesn’t.
It’s the same for any interviewer. Because they are so institutionalised(most often) they are looking for someone similar to them.
If not someone with the same experience as they do, at least someone with fundamental knowledge for that role.
As my manager puts it —
You may or may not be experienced in that field, but do you know the role, have you done your research, does your understanding of the role match our expectation?
Let’s say if the role says ‘Delivery partner’, but you keep thinking of an ‘Uber driver’ in your mind. Perhaps, there is a significant mismatch in the recruiter’s expectation and your understanding.
This will reflect in your answers and will be evident through the body language of the interviewer.
So, do your research about the role and get that baseline right. You need not be an expert, but as long as you understand the big picture and can demonstrate that in the interview you are through.
Also, you can talk to a few people in the company (provided time permits) — who are currently in that role that you have applied.
It would help you to understand —
- What they do
- What does a day-in-life look like for them
- What they would advise about the team/manager/work culture before applying for that role.
3) They can tell when you bullshit.
They don’t know what they don’t know, but they can absolutely tell when someone is bullshitting.
Yes, it’s that simple — they don’t know anything about you, your previous role, your employer (maybe a little) but definitely nothing about your team or your manager.
So, what do you have to worry about when telling your story? Nothing.
If anything, this is your time to rise and shine. You have full freedom to express yourself, your story.
While you do that, however, the interviewer isn’t from another planet — so he would know if you are lying. Imagine if they can see through your bullshit, they definitely can see through the lies. So lies are off the table. And there are no big or small lies. They are all lies.
You cannot run a multi-million dollar project all by yourself, so don’t even try to project that.
Be humble and honest while talking about your achievements.
Keep a list of 10 examples handy on how you have taken the initiative, shown curiosity, led by example and proven your mettle.
When your foundation is strong, it will reflect in your stories and answers. That’s what the interviewer can relate to and marry with the baseline they have in mind.
They have reached that position by going through the same grind themselves in the past. So they can easily spot bluffs and recognise strengths. It’s not that tough, trust me.
We had this interviewee a few days back. Sweet and Charming personality. She gave an excellent introduction. But when probed a little further in her role, she fell flat. She kept using the same words on a repeat mode.
I wouldn’t say that one hour is sufficient to understand the true potential of a person, but it at least gives the interviewer enough information to make a decision.
In a nutshell, interviewers are looking for critical data points that can match their baseline expectation.
It doesn’t matter whether you highlight it in your resume or talk about it in your interview; as long as you present it in an easy, honest and concise way.
Simplifying your achievements, projects and strengths would immensely aid the interviewer in making faster decisions.
They can easily identify the right fit for their team when they come across one.
When you know you have all the skills to deliver in that role, just remember all you have to do is make the interviewer see that and believe in you.