If you’re like many candidates, you might approach the interview process from deficit perspective, meaning you automatically place yourself in an inferior position with regard to your interviewer. You want the job (presumably) and the interviewer has the power to grant or withhold something you want. So you might see the relationship like a student taking a test or an employee asking for a raise.
But this doesn’t accurately describe the interaction, and seeing things this way can prevent you from taking full advantage of the opportunities of the moment. Instead of approaching an interview like a parole hearing or a pop quiz, treat this process like a simple conversation between two equal adults. You both have something the other may want, so listen as much as you speak, and ask as many questions as you answer. Keep these tips in mind.
You’re here to learn and so is your interviewer.
When you sit with another person to have a conversation—any kind of conversation at all—you’ll have more success if you focus on an honest attempt to learn something you didn’t know before. If you’re arguing, try to understand the other person’s point of view. If you’re getting to know each other, ask smart questions and listen to the answers. And if you’re applying for a job, use this moment to glean as much as you can about the nature of the job, the mission of the company, and the culture of the workplace. Ask, listen, and ask some more.
There are no right or wrong answers.
Your interviewer will want to assess various aspects of fitness for the role. But that’s her job, not yours. If she asks you to describe your working style or your background, answer fearlessly and honestly. Don’t tell her what you think she wants to hear. Job interviews are like dates; misrepresentation doesn’t help either party. By the same token, ask your own bold questions and expect honestly from your interviewer.
There’s no better time than now.
You may want to bring up salary issues in a delicate way, but all other aspects of the job and the potential relationship will need to be hashed out before any agreements are signed, and the sooner this happens, the better. There will never be better time to bring up any concerns you have about this position. So ask now, and you’ll save both yourself and your interviewer from hassle and wasted time. Before you leave, clarify any confused or unaddressed issue. Don’t allow your interviewer to trail off or avoid questions that can help you make an important decision about your future.
For more on how to step into your job interview with optimism and confidence, turn to the staffing and job search team Merritt.