Unfortunately, for most companies the choice of whom to hire is a subjective and uncoordinated process with the interview the most subjective part. I have spoken with recruiters from major corporations that use staggeringly expensive formal interview management systems and they report that the final decision still comes down to “gut feel”. The outcome of your interview is in “the hands of the gods” so let it go.
Every job candidate wants to be selected for the job and the belief is that if they do well in the interview they will be chosen. Having worked with hundreds of job candidates and recruiters, I have seen numerous situations where an excellent candidate was not hired due to an idiosyncratic perception on the part of one person on the interview team. The candidate talked too much or too little, they asked too few or too many questions, they seemed too aggressive or too passive, they didn’t have enough experience or they were overqualified, their skills were too narrow or too broad, etc etc. In addition, there are numerous occasions where after interviewing a number of candidates the job is either put on hold or given to an internal candidate.
Subjected to this random subjective process what can a candidate do? There is only one thing to do; make sure you do an excellent job in the interview and then move on. Focus on the process not the outcome. Doing an excellent job in the interview includes the following:
Know the company, the industry, and the job. Read the company’s website thoroughly including press releases. Google the company and see what is being written about it. See if you can find information about the people that will be interviewing you. Prepare a list of questions you want to ask in the interview.
Develop an interview presentation
The most powerful interview strategy is to use a presentation in your interview to communicate how your background skills and experience matches the critical requirements of the job and why you are an excellent candidate for the position. The presentation is a visual aide which will guide the interview and communicate to the hiring manager all the information he needs to know to make a decision about hiring you.
Manage the nuts and bolts
Be there on time (15 minutes early), dressed correctly have a good firm handshake, good eye contact and smile. Be prepared to answer the most common questions such as tell me about yourself and what are your greatest strengths and weaknesses. Carry a leather looking portfolio and be prepared to take notes. Sit forward in your chair, speak assertively, and focus on the benefits you will bring to the job.
After the interview write a good follow-through letter to each person with whom you interviewed. Don’t just thank them, reiterate why you are an excellent candidate for the position and cite examples from the interview.
After the interview take time to debrief your performance. What went well what do you want to improve? How did you interact with the interviewer. Did you use examples of past performance when answering questions? How did you do with your presentation?
Now you have done the most you can do for this interview. And the outcome it is beyond your control. Begin to focus on the next opportunity, the next networking meeting, the next interview. Time to move on.