What’s Most Important To Your Next Employer
Finding a new job is one of life’s most stressful events. There’s no two-ways about it; the job hunt can be grueling, with preparing for an interview feeling like a psychological exercise, where you attempt to grow your mindreading skills overnight.
Many candidates worry about what questions they’ll be asked and what the interviewer’s ideal answers are for each. As an interviewee, it can feel as though you’re being put under the microscope – a terrifying proposition if you don’t act, say, or do the ‘right’ thing.
Helping job seekers navigate this tumultuous ground is a slew of insider articles on how employers set up tricky tests for candidates, and how to successfully find your way through each.
Over the course of the past decade and a half, I’ve spent most of my time in the role of the nervous candidate, wondering how I might win over my prospective employer. However, now that I’ve built a solid foundation of experience as a marketing professional, I’ve been offered the opportunity of sitting on the other side – hiring a new staff member.
The view from the other side is surprising – and calls into question a lot of the manipulative, so-called ‘insider’ advice I’d read in the past.
What’s Really Most Important to Your Next Employer
Believe it or not, an interview is not as cut and dry as a skill-testing question. There is no ‘right’ answer – only an honest one.
No matter what words you choose, there is a true picture that emerges. After interviewing several people, it becomes very clear is who is genuinely excited, interested, and well-equipped to handle the challenges of the open opportunity.
So, if you’re going into an interview, fret not over trying to get inside the minds of your interviewers. Just be yourself and represent yourself well.
More often than not, what we’re trying to suss out from your answers are all the facets of you that couldn’t be contained in a two-page resume with a cover letter.
Specifically, the following is a short list of the most important areas that an interviewer may dive into to assess your fit.
How enthusiasm manifests itself can vary from person to person, however, there are a few telltale signs of a keener. Serious candidates tend to have conducted research on our company, and are deliberate in continually highlighting experiences or viewpoints that connect their skillset and interest to the job.
And while the question, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” has been well-played out, the point of asking is to see if your curiosity and ambitions align with what the job – and company can offer. A good employer understands that people have dreams, and those dreams may extend beyond the current opening on the team. If this job plays into your longterm goals, then chances are that you’ll be an enthusiastic contributor who is also eager to learn.
But another way that enthusiasm shines through is in the questions you ask us. So when the interviewers open the floor to you, know that that is your chance to show us that you’re interested in finding out if this is right fit for your current skills – and future ambitions.
For example, a candidate who asks about work hours and vacation time may be perfectly well-intending, but if that is all you ask about, you create the perception that what you’re most curious about is when you’re able to leave.
“As much as we are interviewing candidates, they are interviewing us!” says Phoebe Aitken, HR Specialist at Voices.com. “I often find I’m disappointed when candidates don’t ask questions, because I feel like they are not as interested in us as we are in them. There is nothing more heartwarming than a candidate that comes prepared with a variety of questions to help them understand what we are all about!”
Work-life balance is very important, but these kinds of logistical questions can be saved for when you’re overlooking and negotiating a job offer. Make better use of this opportunity to ask about workplace culture, growth opportunities and even the departmental challenges that you’ll be able to help the team tackle.
We understand that hiring is a two way street. We’re looking for a rockstar who does great work, and we’re expecting to offer that employee opportunities to grow and develop, so they can be a happy professional.
Your Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
You’re in a room with us because we think your experience looks stellar.
So after we’ve learned a little more about tasks you’ve tackled in the past, we want to know how you dealt with them.
Questions in this vein tend to be focused on how you overcome challenges or have worked through difficult situations. Our ears also perk up on any experience related to your approach to customer service and your methodology for proposing new ideas to management.
Understanding where your strengths and weaknesses lie isn’t just a test to ‘vet’ you out of the running, it’s also a chance for us to understand your own self-awareness, tact, and sense of diplomacy. It’s important to understand where your development opportunities lie, how open you are to working through them, and whether or not we can get there together.
Your Workstyle and Ability to Gel with the Current Team
Team dynamics are diverse and complex. You can have the skills and experience to knock the job out of the park, but if your work style or personality doesn’t gel with our unique group, then it’s the interviewer’s job to try to save both parties the aggravation of grinding gears in the future.
For instance, if you’re outgoing and prefer to collaborate by talking through problems, you may find yourself feeling outcast by a team that likes to keep headphones in while they collaborate on group documents. And alternatively, the team may feel disrupted by your boisterous, but friendly demeanor.
Everyone has the best of intentions, and no one way is ‘wrong,’ but it’s easy to see how this situation could cause some friction.
Work should be a place that you come to with a happy heart and an eagerness to contribute. Team dynamics have a large influence over whether or not the aforementioned becomes a reality, and so this is an item that is high on the interviewer’s list. Making sure you’re a good fit is just as important to us as it is to you.
We appreciate a succinct resume that draws a clear match between your skills and the current opportunity. However, there’s only so much that a resume can tell us. An interview is a chance to explore where your expertise lies. A lot of jobs ask for a diverse skillset, but most employers don’t expect to find someone who is an expert on the whole ‘wishlist.’ Talking through your experience helps paint a picture of where your mastery lies.
And on the flipside, sometimes we’re asking questions simply to become clear on exactly what you’ve done or what that jargony title or acronym-ridden past accomplishment means. New skills are cropping up just about as quickly as the proliferation of new social media platforms. We’re intrigued by what you’ve done and want to learn how you’ve done it.
Note that if you can’t explain what you’ve done, how you’ve done it, or elaborate beyond a one-line answer, that’s a red flag that perhaps some parts of your past have been… embellished upon.
“I left an interview recently where, even after half an hour, I still had no clue what the candidate did in their current role or what the company they worked for did,” adds Phoebe. “When I looked up the company afterwards, I realized that everything could have been summed up in 5 words or less… how frustrating!”
Never assume that we understand everything that went into your past roles. Talk on, and if we want to move to the next question, we’ll give you a segue to get there.
Give us a Chance to Get to Know You and Entrust that We Want the Best Fit
Putting your best foot forward is all about context. You should always have the company you’re hoping to join, and the job you’ve said that you’re interested in doing, as ‘top of mind.’
Be honest and thoughtful, but deliberate in explaining both how you fit into the company, and how it fits into your vision for where you’d like your career to go. You don’t have to have a five year plan, all you need to have is a curiosity or an inclination to develop in a way that directly aligns you with the opportunity we’re offering.
If it doesn’t work out this time around, know that the decision not to hire you isn’t an easy one. We can be excited by the prospect of working with more than one candidate, but only have the capacity to hire one person. Sometimes our heart breaks a little too.
So keep your chin up and remain proud that you’re hustling hard in a very competitive job market. Don’t lose faith that you’ll find your next great opportunity – and know that there are people on the other side of the interview table who are rooting for you too.
Tanya Chopp is a content strategist with over 10 years of experience. As a writer at Voices.com, Tanya manages the production and amplification of content across various mediums, from podcasts, to blog posts, to thought leadership articles. Tanya holds a Bachelor of Science degree, as well as a post-graduate diploma in Public Relations, from Western University. Her lifelong ambition is to use the art of communication to bring informative, educational and positive messages to the masses.