I don’t care what the job is. I don’t care what level the job is. Heck, I don’t even care who the person is that is asking the questions during the interview. Any legitimate job interview boils down to three fundamental questions:
- Can this person do the job?
- Is this person a good “fit” with the rest of my team?
- Why is this person “on the market?”
The candidate who takes the time to deeply understand these fundamental questions from the interviewer’s perspective will be light years ahead of any candidate who focuses primarily on their own priorities during the interview process.
Competency and “fit” speak to the fundamentals – whether you can do the job and will work well with the existing team. Just as important to most quality employers is insight into why you want the job. The “why are you looking?” question is a potential minefield for the unprepared candidate, and its mishandling is the most common reason for employer’s decision to “pass.” Much like at the start of personal relationships, new prospective partners are very interested to understand how the last “relationship” ended to get a sense of what they might be “in for” down the road. “Bad-breakups” are a sure sign to most employers that future employer-employee relationships may be rocky, and most employers will avoid taking such risks.
Your job -- if you want “the job” -- is to focus your interview communication on the challenges your perspective employer faces and your shared values. Here is what you need to do:
- Be prepared to offer concrete examples from your professional past that show you have a track record of success meeting the same or substantially similar challenges your prospective employer is facing.
- Keep your energy and enthusiasm level high throughout the process. Respond to all related communications promptly and clearly. Nobody wants to hire a dud.
- Don’t bad mouth past employers or team members. Sometimes things don’t work out. No need to spend a lot of time on it, but what you do say about past employers should be respectful and balanced. No drama. No ambiguous chatter. Just the facts. Try to conclude the related conversation with the positive “take away” that resulted from the employment experience.