Successful Interviews are a Partnership
As a former HR Director, having conducted hundreds of interviews over many years, I came to view the interview process as having a lot in common with dating. It follows that successful interviews are a partnership.
Could you imagine going on a date and not asking the important questions you need to find out if there’s the potential for a relationship? Not to forget the importance of chemistry. You would be wholly dependent on their assessment of you, and it probably wouldn’t get much further than that – let’s be honest. What you both want matters, as much as when dating, as it does when interviewing – successful interviews are a partnership too.
I’ve witnessed many passive candidates at interview stage focused entirely on making themselves as appealing as possible to their prospective employer at all costs. Sometimes the goal of being chosen and receiving a job offer supersedes the ultimate aim of getting the right job match.
The most important job is already yours! It all starts with you, and since successful interviews are a partnership, it’s crucial that you work out what your essential and desirable needs are to fulfill your potential. The employer – employee dynamic is a two-way relationship and both parties have an active role to play in it for the best possible match.
So, do your own research to help inform the questions you’d like to ask them, not just for something to say at the end of the interview, but rather to become an active partner in the dating process. I’d suggest spending as much time preparing your answers alongside the questions you’d like to ask, based on your own research.
It’s not just about your questions either. Here are some more general tips showing how successful interviews are a partnership, and what to consider incorporating for your own employer selection and interview strategy.
Before The Interview
Get online and start digging. Don’t just rely on the company website and official PR – check out the company reputation from several angles.
- Who are the executive leadership team? Find their biographies, check out their education and employment history as well as their interests.
- Research recent employer media coverage and consider how it impacts the organisation.
- Where possible check their financial performance.
- What do their employees say – glassdoor is useful as a guide but remember that it can be a little one-sided.
Who will be interviewing you? The perspectives of a line manager, department head, HR and recruitment professionals vary according to their own deliverables and remits. Bear this in mind when preparing your answers and questions.
At The Interview
Observe. Watch, listen and learn while you wait in reception. Is there a buzz or deathly silence, are people chatting or like ships passing in the night? It’s important to consider which environments you thrive in and assess if this company hits the spot for you.
Your interview questions. Here are some examples on getting a sense of how well the company is run and how performance is measured and rewarded.
- How did the job become vacant? Did someone leave suddenly or is it a new position due to growth or a promotion.
- Are any internal candidates being considered for the position? If not why? It’s a good sign to see an organisation providing opportunities for development and talent planning. Or they could be acquiring new expertise for the business.
- How will my performance be assessed? This is a critical area often overlooked but you should a least know what systems they have in place and what success looks for the advertised position.
- What’s your employee attrition rate? Industry rates vary from 10-20% approx. but it also depends on the size and development stage of the business. If it’s really high then be sure to ask what is driving it – it’s a useful signal of organisational sustainability and culture.
- What’s their reward and recognition philosophy? You may also care to ask what the track record of salary increases and bonus pay out has been over the past few years to get a sense of how their philosophy translates into action.
Manage your own expectations. It’s ok to ask how many candidates have been shortlisted for interview stage, how well you compare to them and what timeframes they’re working towards making a hire decision. In fact it demonstrates a proactive, committed and organised candidate who knows how to get a job done.
After The Interview
Loop back. Yes, email thanking them for taking the time to meet you and that you look forward to hearing from them. Simple but effective and it helps you to stand out from the shortlist.
Feedback please! Whether you’re successful or not, asking for feedback is essential as part of your learning and development. I know this is easier than it sounds. Often organisations have a no feedback policy or only after a first interview but it’s worth following up. I recommend always doubling up by asking for it right at the end of your interview as well as when following up afterwards – this will increase your feedback hit rate.
In a continuously evolving labour market, there are times when we all have to adjust our priorities and expectations in order to meet our basic employment needs – let’s be realistic. However, successful interviews are a partnership, so if you always factor in these tips you will succeed in improving your self-worth, better manage your expectations and begin to make more informed decisions about potential employers.
It also means that over time, on the occasions when you may not be successful at interview, you become more attuned to your optimal employer relationship for a successful partnership in the future.