Most job candidates interview for jobs in industries in which they have experience. Some candidates have 15 plus years of experience in a specific job in a particular industry. Many experienced candidates make the mistake of assuming they know all they need to know about the industry, the company, and position for which they are interviewing.
It is easy to understand how a candidate may make this mistake. Take for example a Chief Financial Officer, a Chief Information Officer, or an experienced manager who has 10 plus years of experience in their job. For years they have been exposed to industry trends, competitors, new developments in their field, colleagues and other professionals, etc. It is natural for them to assume they know all they need to interview well and they short change themselves on their interview preparation and do not listen enough in the interview. This is the same mistake experienced sales people make when they think they know as much or even more than their customer.
Here is what even experienced candidates don’t know- they do not know about the job from the hiring manager’s perspective.
As in any good sales process, the initial part of an interview should be spent getting to know the needs of the customer (hiring manager). Listen for the following in the hiring manager’s words:
- What specific problem is the position solving
- What are the immediate, mid-term, and long term priorities of the position
- How will success be measured
- What are the specific skill sets the position requires
- Significant industry trend/challenges
- Personal success factors that fit the company culture
To learn the above information, maintain an attitude of curiosity. According to Dictionary.com, curiosity is “the desire to learn or know about anything; inquisitiveness.” Curiosity also includes an openness to view things from others’ perspectives. The challenge is to avoid having your preconceived notions and existing beliefs block learning the hiring manager’s views and perspective. You may think the hiring manager’s thoughts are incorrect, however it is her thoughts and you need to know them. I am not suggesting agreement only awareness.
Curiosity exemplified by good questions and open mindedness communicate positive traits in the interview. Also, it is a good approach to disagree by asking questions. For example, “I understand you think the emerging trend in energy is drilling for more oil, I am wondering what your thoughts are about alternative energy such as electric and hydrogen?’ You may learn something very interesting about the hiring manager’s thinking.
Once you are aware of the hiring manager’s perspective you can target your answers more specifically to the requirements of the position. In addition, you can determine if the job is for you.