Regardless of your industry or background, your next job interview will most likely consist of these four types of people – and the key to turning that interview into a lucrative first day at the office is knowing the approach to each one. Chances are you've done your homework on the company, you can speak to your strengths and weaknesses, and you may even have a funny but down-to-earth story about that time you overcame a challenge in your previous job. But how much have you thought about what each person will specifically be interested in during the interview process? Knowing how to tackle these four types will put you leagues above all other applicants, because you'll know the importance of crafting your answers to your audience:
1. Your future colleagues. These are the people that will be with you in the trenches, day in and day out. You'll get to know their pet peeves and their favorite music, and you'll also go through all the excitement and stress that each new challenge brings. And like any team member, you'll need to be able to count on one another – which is the key to winning them over. Highlight your reliability, how you can roll with the punches and accommodate your colleagues. Describe how each past accomplishment was possible because of collaboration, how you overcame difficulties with your teammates, and how important trust and accountability are for you. They need to know you can be trusted to cover for them when they're out, catch their mistakes when something gets overlooked, and share the credit evenly. The same courtesy will be extended to you. They need to know you've got their back.
2. Your future boss. Maybe your boss used to have the exact same job you're interviewing for, or maybe only a vague clue of what your day to day will actually look like. Regardless, you need to understand one thing – your job is to make your boss look good. That's it. Now, before you turn away with an eye roll, let me elaborate. Any positive impact you have on the team will be reflected well upon their leadership, while any accidents, however small, will strain their reputation as well as your own. This person needs to know whether you can do the job with consistent quality, or whether they may be apologizing in three months to their boss for hiring the new kid that sent a blast email to all clients about an upcoming dental cleaning. Make sure to address how thoughtful and meticulous you are, how you can wear multiple hats without being overwhelmed, and how you're ready to hit the ground running. They don't want to repeat instructions twice, instead they need someone who can show initiative in improving themselves. Your boss wants to be the proud parent at the math championship, not your babysitter or maid.
3. Someone much higher up the chain. Depending on the size of the company, there may be a chance this person will never remember your name. They're dealing with issues that are probably going to be way above your pay grade for a while. To dazzle this crowd you need to show a slightly different approach than the previous two types – are you able to think about the big picture of the business and your place in it? Can you anticipate incoming challenges and opportunities for the company overall, and for your position specifically? How does your future day-to-day fit with the current trends and setbacks faced in your industry? Have you thought about how your career plan will grow and change with these trends, not in ten months but ten years? This person will want to know not only that you will be great at what you do, but also that you have the ability to see how all the pieces work together within the company.
Think of the last three types in terms of a sailing expedition to map uncharted waters. Your colleagues want to know if they can rely on you to pull your weight, your boss needs to know that you can execute orders well and not jeopardize the team, and the senior leader needs to see that you know where you're going and how ships work to gauge your potential in the ranks.
4. HR. Of all the types, this person will likely have least exposure to your daily job duties and requirements. You may encounter this person early in the recruitment process, or they may have a part in the final interview. In addition to meeting the base requirements for the job, they are there to evaluate your general qualities as a person and business professional. Will you be someone people want to work with? Can you be kind and respectful to all colleagues, not only immediate team members? Will you be difficult and stubborn when IT doesn't immediately get it right? Will you throw a tantrum when payroll's mistake accidentally delays a paycheck by a day? They need to know that the way you excel in your job does not involve bringing someone else down. Know some office wide company activities and learning opportunities, be sure you can speak to initiatives and causes the company is involved in, talk about your interest in learning all aspects of the business and growing from the perspective of someone in very different shoes from your own.
These guidelines are meant to aid your thinking in preparing for the interview. It's important that you can not only answer all technical and background questions, but that you can also craft your narrative appropriately. Put yourself in each person's place– what are the most relevant criteria in their eyes? Help them see why you're the best for the job!
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