There are 3 piece of advice for interviews that each candidate has heard over and over, practice and prepare for questions, do research about the company and dress appropriately. Those are topics well covered in a number of places. There are a couple of things that are not covered often that I’m going to cover here.
Screening vs. an Interview
Often times your first contact with a company is not with the hiring person. When you meet with a hiring person, you are being interviewed. When you are talking with a recruiter or an HR person from the company you are being screened. So what’s the difference? A lot and you handle each situation differently.
When you are not talking to the person who will hire you, like a supervisor or manager or peers in the job, you are speaking with someone who’s job it is to locate and bring in talent to be interviewed. This process is screening. They are looking for 2 things
1) Does this person have the skills, knowledge and abilities listed in the job description
2) Is there something about the candidate that would disqualify them from working at our company. Some examples include;
- A history of numerous job changes
- Large gaps in employment
- Desire for growth in a position when (at the company) there is little growth opportunity
If it is a big company, they probably don’t know too much more about the job than what is in the job description.
What this means to you is to answer the questions and be polite. Do not ask detailed questions about the job and the project. Keep it at a high level. If you ask too many questions or push too hard, it could keep you from getting the interview with the person who could answer all of you questions.
Advice for Interviews – The Interview
Aside for the usual suggestions from above, when preparing for an interview try to find out who you will be conducting the interview. This is especially important when it is a one on one interview. Why? It is part of your job to know. Not only should you know about the company but you should know about the people too. Imagine if you are interviewing someone who has written technical papers, won awards or once lived/worked in a place you had as well. You can use this in the interview to establish rapport.
How to Research an Interviewer
Start by asking for names and titles when you are setting up the interview. When I work with candidates my advice for the interview is to be prepared using tools like Google, LinkedIn and other professional and social media web sites. Get yourself a LinkedIn account and find your interviewer. Search their name in Google. Any piece of job related information you can connect with your interviewer will help you. (Caution: Don’t get personal or come off like a stalker. The point is to show you do your due diligence and you would enjoy working with someone as accomplished as your interviewer.)
The best advice for interviews beyond the big three is to know how to deal with a screener and know how to help yourself with an interviewer. Learning about the person conducting an interview can help you gain an edge in any interview situation.
For more information and ideas, visit our career center portal.