As difficult as it can be to believe, interviewers are actually human…
Even if your mental image of those across the table from you as powerful, competent and collected sometimes rings true – it’s often completely at odds with reality. All interviewers have different styles, and knowing how to play to each one will only increase your chances of getting the job.
To help you get to grips with some of them, here are six common types of interviewers, courtesy of James Reed’s best-selling book, ‘Why You’:101 Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear Again’:
The unicorn hunter
Characteristics: The perfect candidate doesn’t exist, but that doesn’t deter the Unicorn Hunter from looking. And looking, and looking…
Good/bad points: They know what kind of candidate they want. Unfortunately, it’s one who’s good at absolutely everything – making them especially prone to nit-picking.
Your tactics: Get them to specifically state what skills they’re looking for, and show how you meet them. Using real life example to back up your skills and experiences will also help demonstrate the widest range of your good points.
The delayed train
Characteristics: Turns up about thirty minutes late, owing to three back-to‑back interviews that morning. Not fully in control of their inbox, diary, desk, life… (Insert other applicable word here).
Good/bad points: Hasn’t had time to notice the gaps in your CV, and is often more nervous and ill-prepared than you. However, they won’t always know who they’re talking to, and might be too busy to remember the little things in your application (and/or your name).
Your tactics: Since they’re ‘winging it’, they will gladly let you do the talking – so talk. Be engaging and expansive, and demonstrate good manners, patience and positivity. A little humour and understanding will help put both of you at ease, and keep things a little more informal.
The method actor
Characteristics: Asks every candidate exactly the same questions, in exactly the same order. Especially fond of competency questions. Commonly found in the public sector and large companies.
Good/bad points: Is often a consummate professional, underneath it all. If they can tick a box, you’re in. The drawback is that they don’t give much encouragement, and usually do a bad job of selling the organisation to you.
Your tactics: If they’re looking for you to tick all the boxes, work out what the boxes are beforehand. Use the job description to highlight the key things they’ll be looking for, and keep pointing them out in your interview.
The RHINO (Really Here In Name Only)
Characteristics: Generally pleasant and polite, but doesn’t seem to be completely attentive or engaged during the interview. It’s almost as if they’ve already given the job to someone else.
Good/bad points: They never ask anything especially challenging, and make a fair amount of small talk. Unfortunately, it’s mainly because they really have given the job to someone else.
Your tactics: Even if you feel it’s hopeless, it’s always important to put on the best show you can. RHINOs often have a lot of influence within the company, and leaving the right impression might still help get you a job – even if it isn’t exactly the one you applied for in the first place.
Characteristics: Founder and sole owner of the company. See themselves somewhere between Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg (although they may earn significantly less money).
Good/bad points: Above-average energy and IQ, which is one of the reasons they’ve survived long enough to employ you. The problem is, their egos can sometimes cloud their judgement – and expectations. ‘You want how much?’ is often one of their favourite sayings.
Your tactics: Play up your work ethic, your loyalty and your flexibility – but only if that’s genuinely who you are as a person. They’re looking for people who can be just as passionate and proactive as them. If that’s not you, you probably shouldn’t work for an entrepreneur.
The poker player
Characteristics: If they’re not the Managing Director or CEO, they probably will be at some point. A warm and genuine exterior doesn’t let on what they’re feeling underneath.
Good/bad points: Expert interviewer and team builder. Effortlessly charming, and knows absolutely everyone. Instantly makes you want to work there. However, with their supreme poker face, you may never know if you said the wrong thing.
Your tactics: Instead of concentrating on why the company would be a great match for your skills, just focus on showing what you can do for them. And even if you’re not sure what they’re really thinking, don’t be tempted to start doubting yourself. Ask not what your employer can do for you… (etc.)
Need more examples?
Although this is a light-hearted look at interviewer’s quirks, you might be surprised how many of them really do come up. And these six styles are from the only examples.
If you’re looking for more, buy James Reed’s new book, ‘Why You: 101 Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear Again’ now.
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