Interviews: Being on the Other side

Random Observation/Comment #401: Try to picture yourself in other people’s shoes. It will help you with your decision making when you know intentions and you can see a few moves ahead.

Interviews need finesse...

Interviews need finesse…

I’ve conducted quite a few interviews – probably more than I was qualified to do at the time, to be honest – but from this experience, I’ve learned quite a lot about the process.  The point of this post is not to give away any trade secrets on specific questions we ask, but rather to give the nervous college graduates and early career movers more information about what companies generally look for.

  • Resume. This gets your foot in the door and provides the interviewer with a base of questions to ask and something to reference while having your conversation. This will be quickly scanned over, so it should be easy to read and easy to summarize in one’s head. I usually mark the 5 most interesting/questionable things on the resume and try to cover and get more information on them during the interview.
  • Goal. An interviewer’s job is to see if you’re a right fit for the job from the point of view of qualifications, but also for goals. Good interviewers will get to know you better and really see that you want the particular position. When interviewing, always have a goal that makes sense. Seriously consider a 5-year plan, but obviously don’t say you want the interviewer’s job.
  • Base Knowledge / Qualifications. The interviewer is trying to fill a position and looking to see that your background will give you the basics to complete the job. Interviewers understand that you will learn on the job, but there is a base-level of competency in the subject that you must have (or at least others applying to the position will have). The key here is to be the best candidate out of all those applying, which will stand out from the other attributes.
  • Work Ethic. It’s important that you always show you’re willing to go the extra mile to do the work and complete things on time. Give examples of where you had a steep learning curve and you were self-taught/utilized your resources to complete the job. To the interviewer, this means you will hit the ground running and not need too much hand-holding.
  • Collaboration. Tasks get done independently, but projects get done as a team. You will need to work well with your group and be flexible with other conflicting personalities. Give examples of where you helped others and adapted to different coding styles or personalities in the office.
  • Communication. Your ability to express yourself and conduct yourself in the interview says a lot about your confidence and personality. It’s understandable that not everyone is a Type-A, but everyone should know themselves when going into an interview. They should be able to tell their story and represent themselves (because who else will?). The art of story-telling is not dead and should not be taken lightly.  Be concise, use proper grammar, and give clear examples.
  • Leadership. Slightly different from work ethic, this is the personality that sets an example for others and motivates them towards a common goal. For a team to be effective, you will always need people who are not afraid to take the reins. This means that each team member at once point will be taking ownership and therefore taking responsibility for projects and their results.

It’s no surprise that all managers want someone who goes above and beyond, so they can build a lean team that gets stuff done and meets/exceeds all expectations. They pull people from all backgrounds to apply everyone’s expertise and creativity to the team. We hire for the long-run and grow-our-own so the new hire will become a subject matter expert and be part of our family (what else would you call it if we spend 45 hours a week together?).

As a manager, building a team means utilizing the strengths of all its members, so if you get anything out of this, it’s this: Clearly state what you’re bringing to the table.

~See Lemons Be an Interviewer