Inside Your Interviewer's Head

Interviews are stressful and intimidating. We get that! The trick to keeping calm is to know the questions running through your interviewer’s head, and answering them before they even think about it.
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'Is the candidate really interested in this job?'

The last thing recruiters want is to hire someone who isn’t really interested in the job, and may leave in a few months after starting. They also do not want to employ someone who will be unhappy in their role and can add little to the organisation.

How to reassure the interviewer:

Show your interviewer(s) that you have a realistic grasp of what the day-to-day job entails by:

  • asking about your day-to-day responsibilities and their expectations of you as an employee
  • clarifying the interviewer’s response to your questions
  • rehashing what was said by the interviewer to show that you understand was is expected of you.

Take note, though, that doing these just for the sake of it won't work – you must be genuinely enthusiastic about this job offer. Make it clear from your reactions that you are serious about your career and hope to stick to your job for some time, at least.

'Does the candidate have the basic skills to get the job done?'

It costs time and money to market a job opening and assess applicants, and even more to train a fresh graduate. Hence, graduates who showcase a ready and extensive set of skills are usually more appealing to managers and recruiters. Moreover, a candidate with experience and skills are more likely to work independently.

How to reassure the interviewer:

Firstly, demonstrate that you have the specific skills required for the job role. Secondly, discuss good transferable skills (communication, commercial awareness, leadership skills, etc), and basic knowledge gained from previous experiences or vocational exposure.

Interviewers don’t expect you to have expert knowledge of your job scope or position, but they do see if you have the willingness to learn while on the job.

'Can the candidate bring anything new to my organisation?'

When hiring, recruiters must consider the skills, interests, and knowledge that their current employees possess, and then decide if you can ‘add value’ to the company.

How to reassure the interviewer:

Show that you have the skills and qualities that the interviewer is looking for. Find appropriate opportunities to bring it up during the interview, such as when your interviewer(s) offers you a chance to share additional information.

'How well will this candidate get along with colleagues and clients?'

No recruiter wants to hire an individual who cannot sustain a working relationship with their colleagues or clients. Rude, cynical, difficult, or arrogant interviewees will be weeded out.

How to reassure the interviewer:

Stay polite and positive. But most importantly, listen. Take an interest in the other job roles and people in the organisation. Ask questions about your potential colleagues, or how your applied role may influence theirs.

If your position is a client-oriented one, it may also be a good idea to ask about the kinds of services or support you will be expected to provide. This shows initiative and dedication on your part to maintain the company's relationship with its clients.

'Does the candidate have other interviews or job offers lined up?'

Recruiters are always running a talent race with each other – they're constantly competing for the best talent. They will want to know if you're being courted by any other organisation as well so they can timetable their final decision (if they like you) and extend you an offer before someone else does.

How to reassure the interviewer:

There's no point in lying or pretending you don't (or do) have other opportunities lined up. Don't be shy about talking about other job applications if asked. If they're similar to the one you're interviewing for, it shows that you are really serious about working in that field, and that you have put a lot of thought into your job search.

However, if you've already accepted a job offer, don't keep shopping around for more prospects! This is highly unethical, and may cause recruiters to write you off on the spot if they suspect you of this!

'How do I feel about this candidate? Is he or she lying or behaving strangely?'

Experienced recruiters often use their instincts and can tell if something doesn't feel quite ‘right’ during an interview.

How to reassure the interviewer:

Be honest. Admit if you don't know an answer to a question instead of trying to ballpark your way through. Being honest about your shortcomings is better than having recruiters discover that you lied during the interview – even if it's only a small bluff.

Also, if you happen to have any mitigating circumstances on the day itself or have suddenly fallen ill, it's wise to flag this up to the interviewer right at the start. That way, the interviewer will understand and make allowances if you look uncomfortable, upset, or less enthusiastic than expected.