10 Secrets to Knowing Your Interviewer
When preparing for an interview it can be very interesting and useful to think about it from the interviewer’s point of view. They will be looking for particular qualities and behaviours in the job candidates and there will be a reason why they’re looking for those things. Understanding the interviewer helps you to make deductions as to who they want, allowing you to show them you are that person. Find out who’ll be interviewing you by referring back to the invitation email or phoning HR and take it from there.
Research Their History
To find out where someone is coming from, you have to know where they’ve been. An interviewer’s own work experience and areas of expertise will give you clues about what they’re interested in and what they know about. This will help prepare you for the kinds of question they’re going to ask and the type of answers they’ll relate to. Go to their LinkedIn profile to check out their work history and search their name online to see what they’re known for and what they’ve done recently. See if you have any mutual connections on LinkedIn and ask these individuals how they know the person.
Focus on Motivations
You can tell a lot about someone by what motivates them. The way an employee approaches the task of interviewing candidates will depend upon why they’re with the employer. If they’re working for this particular organisation because they want to set a certain example to their children, they’ll be looking for a different kind of future colleague than if they’re doing the job because of the high salary. Look at their bio on the company website, their tweets and their Facebook photos to get an insight into what drives them and who they live for.
Understand the Company
Interviewers can’t of course just hire who they want. There are certain criteria and parameters set by the organisation that act as boundaries, within which interviewers can then make their decision. If you can understand the company and what it’s looking for, you stand a better chance of getting inside its employee’s head. The types of hires a business wants will depend heavily on what’s happening with that business at the moment. So look at the company website, at their marketing campaigns and in the press to see which business areas they’re expanding into, what challenges and dilemmas they’re facing and who they want as customers and clients.
Talk to Them
In most cases, it’s perfectly acceptable to make contact with your interviewer before the interview even happens. They will know that this is not sucking up but represents thoughtful preparation and a genuine interest in the organisation you want to work for and the people who already work there. The interviewer’s contact details may be in the invitation letter so you can get in touch with them to ask any questions. Alternatively send them a message on LinkedIn explaining who you are and inviting them to connect with you on the basis that you’d like to be able to reach them easily in the build-up to the interview.
Be Their Shadow
If you’re feeling particularly audacious and you’ve made contact with the interviewer and hit it off with them immediately or you knew them anyway, ask if you can work shadow them for a few hours, prior to the interview. Shadowing them in their place of work as they do their job will give you an excellent opportunity to see what they do, which of their colleagues they get on with and what parts of the business are important to them. Getting up close and personal to understand how someone works will give you a rich understanding of how they expect others to work for the company.
Interview Similar People
Once you have an idea of what your interviewer is about and what type of person they are, talk to people you know who have similar work histories, interests and motivations. Ask such people what kind of person they like to work with and who they would advise the company you want to work for to hire. Although no two people are the same, individuals with a lot in common still sometimes think in similar ways. This is why criminal profilers interview known serial killers with particular backgrounds and modi operandi in order to catch future killers with similar histories and MOs.
Gaining an insight into the interviewer doesn’t stop once the interview begins. In fact, now is the perfect time to find out even more about this person, as this might be the first time you’ve actually sat down face-to-face with them. An interview isn’t all one way. The definition of an interview is simply a conversation with a purpose and that purpose goes both ways. The interviewer is finding out about you but you should also be finding out about both them and the company by asking pertinent questions throughout the exchange. Their answers will inform and influence your answers later on in the conversation.
Even if you’ve asked questions throughout the meeting, interviewers will typically ask at the end of the interaction if you have any further questions. Now is the time to ask if there’s anything else they want to know about you. However much you think you understand what they were looking for in your answers, you may not have covered everything they’re curious about. By giving them a second chance to ask targeted questions, you’re giving yourself a second chance to prove to them that you’re the one their organisation needs.
Turn the Tables
One big and very direct question to ask an interviewer is why they’re with the company. They’ve probably asked you why you want to work with the company so now it’s time to turn the question back on them. Their answer will tell you a lot about their priorities and ambitions. Even if you ask this right at the end of the interview you can still use the information later on. For example, if, after the meeting, you think of something you believe this person would like to know about you, simply drop them a thank you email and include the extra information in it.
Play Agony Aunt
Through the research you’ve done and perhaps the time you’ve spent with the person interviewing you and talking to them online, you should have an idea as to what they believe the organisation’s biggest challenge to be currently. Once you know this, you can come up with ideas for solving this problem, which will impress them in the interview. If the appointment is coming up and you still don’t know what this person thinks needs addressing, look at their social media updates and blog entries to see what they talk about and ask advice on.
By Nisa Chitakasem, Founder of Position Ignition (www.positionignition.com) and the Career Ignition Club (www.careerignitionclub.com), the UK’s leading career change and career development company and platform. She is also the author of 125 LinkedIn Job Search Tips (http://www.positionignition.com/100-linkedin-job-search-tips). Follow her @PosIgnition for more help with your career challenges.