Below we list the four main types of interviewers you may come across. Don’t let your own stereotyping of the interviewer affect your interview technique. Remember that when managers interview they’re playing a role to a set of social rules, and may not be entirely their usual selves. Their perspectives may differ according to their job function:
- Human resource/recruitment managers: well-trained and experienced, often astute and very sensitive. Acting as internal screener; judgement valued by others. Likely to concentrate on personality and organisational ‘fit’. May have a fund of knowledge about company cultures.
- Head of a group or department: a technical expert with wider managerial experience. Will talk shop, problems and solutions within a broader organisational framework. May have standard questions, pick bits from CV. Concerned about your professional competence and the rapport between you.
- Line manager or decision-maker: trying to assess your style of working. Concerned about your motivation, achievements and personal ambition. Considering how you’ll fit with the rest of the team. May have to ‘sell’ you to more senior colleagues. Serious but relaxed; may try to ‘sell’ the job.
- Managing director or company founder: may digress into lengthy company history. Concerned about cultural fit; may look for shared vision. May be looking for someone who’ll question or act as an agent of change. Will seek views from all those who’ve come into contact with you.
You could read all the books ever written on how to do well at interview and still not be good at it. Practice is essential. Even experience as an interviewer doesn’t make for a flawless performance, for insight often leads to heightened anxiety. How you project yourself through your social and communication skills will determine your success whenever you speak with potential employers.
Find out all you can about interviewing techniques and be ready to cope with them:
- Read about the process.
- Think about the interview and plan for it. Try to foresee questions or situations and work out possible answers.
- Practise by role-playing with a partner, careers adviser or colleague, or use audio or video recordings. How you sound will be crucial.
- Practise speaking on the phone to a friend and ask what impression you’re making. Practise some answers into a voice recorder and listen critically to yourself.
- Ask for comments from a partner, network contacts or interviewers who have rejected you.
- Learn from observing others – take the role of interviewer with a partner.
- Reflect on your experience. Evaluate your performance and incorporate the learning into your next interview.