November 25, 2011

The Interview - From the other side of the table

About a week ago, I saw for the first time what it was like to be on the interviewer's side of the table so I thought I would share a little bit about what I observed.

There are so many types of interviews. As the interviewee, I have experienced the one-on-one interview, group interview, phone interview, interview where one person was physically present and another was calling in, and combinations of any of those. With the exception of phone interviews, I never knew which type to expect so I had to mentally prepare for them all (yipes). Personally, my favorite is the group interview because it gives me a great feel for the company atmosphere as I watch how the employees interact with each other. Additionally, it takes some pressure off of me because I can feed off of the group dynamic.

Moving back to the topic of the interview where I got to pose the questions.. this was a group interview. The interviewee had already impressed the employer with stellar (albeit a bit long and not 100% relevant) resume, phone interview, and review of previous project work. Essentially, all he had left was a personality test to see how well he fit in with the rest of the group. The interview was really laid-back with questions like "What do you do for fun?" "Which sports teams do you support?" and the like. Obviously the answers to these questions would not determine whether or not he was hired (After all, I'm a Patriots fan in Philadelphia and they let me in. ;) ).

Having employees give interviews as a group allows them to be more relaxed so they're more likely to banter with each other as well as banter with you. This is the type of thing that, as the interviewee, I can feed off of, but I can see where it could make some people uncomfortable. You just have to let yourself relax a little bit and forget about being the perfect interviewee selling his skills and accomplishments. Treat it a little more like a friendly conversation (just avoid getting too friendly with topics that could be viewed as inappropriate). Find the balance between selling yourself as a valuable worker and selling yourself as a likeable human being.

"So, I see from your resume that you like to work with PCs..." our graphic designer (a big Apple fan) asked with an air of mock disapproval.

What the interviewee didn't know was that he was surrounded by both die-hard Mac fans, die-hard PC fans, and those who have their preferences but honestly aren't that picky. For all he knew, though, he could have been in a room full of Apple loyalists (Uh oh...!)

Some people might tense up when challenged like this (especially if the joking tone of the interviewer is missed). Just try to respond with confidence and be true to what you believe. "Yes, I like PCs because..." or "I've worked with PCs but I actually prefer Macs because..." or whatever the case may be. Just try not to let the joking knock you off your game. Interviews in general are often more about personality than skill reviews unless there are things on your resume that require further explanation. Just put on your best smile and let your personality show through!

Katie Hazard | Digital Artist, User Experience Designer | @katie_hazard
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