Interviewers - What Are They Looking For Anyway?

Interviewers: What Are They Looking For Anyway?

Employers want five answers

From the interview process, these are the main questions they have that they want to be answered:

Can you do the job?

Do you have the skills and experience needed to perform the job?

Will you do the job?

Are you motivated to perform the actual job functions?

Will your performance positively impact company goals?

These are the subjective predictions of future performance; will you be any good at it?

Do you fit in?

Here, they consider your cultural fit into the company.

If you answer those four questions with a "Yes," they will have one more question:

Are you affordable?

Clearly, the matter of compensation is an important one.

When you answer all five of these questions affirmatively, you have a shot at the position.

At the same time, other job seekers may pass the criteria, too.

Failing to pass any one of these hurdles will result in the employer pursuing other job seekers for the opportunity.

So, let's look at each one more closely ...

Can you do the job?

This is the threshold question.

Anything less than a clear and convincing “yes” to this question will result in you being bypassed for the position.

Questions in this portion of the interview will be about your ... 

  • Technical skills 
  • Abilities 
  • Knowledge 
  • Transferable skills
  • Professional values

It is an evaluation of your qualifications for the job and a determination of whether you can actually perform the functions of the position.

Emphasize your skills and abilities and match the basic elements needed to perform the job functions.

Will you do the job?

Motivation is pivotal to success in any job position and is a professional quality all hiring executives want to see in a job seeker.

The hiring executive needs to know whether the job seeker is motivated to actually perform the job functions to levels required to be successful.

This is an area where some hiring executives grumble about younger professionals.

As a job seeker, you must convince the hiring executive that you have the required abilities and are motivated to use them!

This is achieved by educating the hiring manager about your passion for the job, work ethic, and internal drive. 

If you can, also provide examples of taking initiative and going the extra mile 

Revealing that you have researched the company, position, and perhaps the hiring executive’s background can also be a reflection of your motivation.

Let's say that the hiring decision comes down to two equally qualified candidates.

Which one will win?

The one that has demonstrated motivation and enthusiasm!

Will your performance have a positive impact? 

Here, the hiring executive will attempt to predict your future performance on the job, compare you to others who have been successful in the job, and compare you against other job seekers.

You may have the necessary skills and be willing to use them, but in addition, this is what the hiring manager wants to know:

  1. Will your performance have a positive impact? 
  2. Will it advance company goals?
  3. Would you be an improvement from the previous person in the position?
  4. Are you going to improve team performance?

This is where competition for the position takes place, at least in the mind of the hiring executive.

It’s about proving results and convincing the hiring manager that you can make things better.

After all, they want to hire the best!

During the interview, it is imperative that you stress accomplishments, your history of success, and work ethic.

  • Ask about how you will be measured in the position, position goals, and projects.
  • Then reference your accomplishments to match and exceed expectations.

Do you fit in?

This is a big deal.

Will you culturally fit with the organization and personal chemistry with those you will work with? 

Statistically, 60 percent of new hires are based on personal chemistry.

Employers tend to hire who they like.

This even occurs when more qualified candidates are available.

Cultural and personal chemistry questions explore these factors:

  • Likeability 
  • Connection 
  • Communication 
  • Values 
  • Interests outside of work 
  • Dress/appearance 

When the hiring executive shifts gear into more personal topics, they are assessing your cultural fit and personal chemistry.

(For more on this topic, read What Kind Of A Company Culture Are You Most Comfortable With?)

Are you affordable?

To land an offer, your compensation must fit within the position's hiring range.

The more qualified you are and the more they like you, the more justification exists to move you to the higher end of that salary range.

Sometimes, if your qualifications and cultural fit are strong enough, employers will go beyond the original compensation range to capture extraordinary talent.

(Although this can happen, don’t pursue positions in hopes that the employer will do so. All employers are conscious of budgets and parity issues.)

Let’s conclude our discussion with the strategy you should use in order to have a successful interview.

Strategy for a successful interview

A successful interview strategy involves four reasonably simple concepts:

Uncovering the employer’s need

You achieve this through reading job descriptions, listening, researching, and asking probing questions.

Communicating to the employer that you can satisfy that need

You achieve this by matching and relating your skills and experience to the needs of the company.

Persuading the employer to hire you

You achieve this by emphasizing your past accomplishments and relating those accomplishments to the company’s needs.

  • Convince them that not only can you do the job, but you can also do it well
  • Differentiate yourself from other applicants

Showing enthusiasm for the position

Top qualified candidates who show enthusiasm for the position are more successful in receiving job offers.

Simply put, everyone wants to be wanted.

So, the more you convince an employer you want the job, the more likely you are to get it.

(For more on interviewing, check out the 50 Top Job Interview Questions And Answers.)

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