Our brains have evolved the ability to recall past experiences and learn from them, to come up with strategies for managing things in the present, and to imagine future possibilities and outcomes. This is known as a person’s time perspective and each individual tends to view the world in relation to which time perspective they find most comfortable. Although every individual uses all three time perspectives, individuals differ in the degree to which they use each of the three thinking perspectives to make decisions.
- Past thinkers want verification, they place a high value on testimonials, a proven track record, credentials, or the research/proof that went into creating something. These thinkers try to get to “beyond a reasonable doubt” level of certainty.
- Present thinkers are interested in how a product or service can help them solve or manage a problem they’re dealing with now. They analyze probabilities of any given outcome and to manage to them. A present thinker is goal oriented.
- Future thinkers look at a product or service and imagine the possibilities it opens up, and how it might impact their life moving forward. These individuals are able to imagine an infinite set of future possibilities and engage in creative and innovative speculation. They tend to be less concerned about rules.
In your interview listen for the interviewer’s time perspective. For example, one interviewer will delve deeply into prior positions and your success stories which provide proof you can do the required work- they have a past perspective. Another interviewer may be uninterested in reviewing your work history but is very focused on asking questions and discussing how you would solve certain problems- they have a present perspective. Another interviewer will speak about future plans and want to explore how your skills and experience may contribute to future success- they have a future perspective.
Throughout your interview it is important to address each time perspective- past, present, and future. However, if you detect the interviewer’s dominant time perspective, spend extra time presenting information and use language which supports the perspective. For example, with an interviewer who has a past time perspective you can answer questions with the preface “As I did in my past positions….” With an interviewer with a present time perspective you can use the preface “With my skills and experience I will immediately be able to .…”“ With an interviewer with a future perspective you can use the preface “ I imagine I can use my skills to ….”