Job interviews are nerve-wracking. We all know that. But there’s another side to job interviews…the employer side. It’s hard to imagine the other side if you’ve never been in an interviewer position, but there is more to that role than just asking questions. Of course, we all know the basics of a job interview, but there’s more beyond the questions and answers themselves. And understanding these key details are what separate the good candidates from the truly great candidates; the candidates that an interviewer will remember.
So this is the view from the other side. According to hiring experts around the internet, these are the 6 job interview details that hiring managers wished job seekers knew:
1. Your job interview starts the second you step onto the property.
People see everything. Your job interview is about more than what happens in the room, it’s about how prepared you are and how to treat people. If you come rushing into the job interview, completely out of breath, the interviewer will see it in your appearance and know that you did not prepare enough time to get ready….which could give the impression that you may be the type of person that is late for work because you are always cutting it close. You’re not invisible in the waiting room or the parking lot. Even if it’s not the interviewer themself, other employees can see if you’re impatient or rude and it can get back to the hiring manager. Especially when you speak to other employees, like the receptionist or even the janitor, you are being interviewed on how you fit into the company the moment you walk in.
Having worked as a receptionist myself, I can definitely say that hiring managers take everything into consideration. I used to have the hiring manager for my company come out of the meeting room when the candidate left to ask me what I think. Because we worked in a small office, if someone is rude to me that means they’ll probably be rude to a lot of the team and that creates a very toxic environment. The interview starts the second you walk in.
2. Your resume was likely only glanced over for less than two minutes.
This is not a fault of your own, but it’s important to remember that hiring managers see A LOT of resumes, so they don’t know your job experience that well. When I being an interview, I usually try to highlight some of my experiences and I always refer back to them in my interview questions. We all work hard on our resumes and hiring managers don’t read everything on it word for word. So it’s always good to give an overview of your experience and accomplishments either at the beginning if they give you an opportunity, or during one of the first interview questions like “tell me about yourself.”
3. You are interviewing each other, so ask questions.
A job interview is not a one-way street. It’s important to ask questions about the role, your responsibilities, and the culture of the company to ensure you’re both the best fit for each other.
Also, ask about the companies growth opportunities and challenges so you’re not resenting the job a few years down the road. Hiring managers also look for the candidate to ask questions, because who doesn’t like talking about themself? But also it demonstrates that you show true interest in their company, instead of just blindly sending out your resumes and interviewing for any company that will take you. Enthusiasm is contagious. If you are excited about the job, they will be excited about you. This is also the perfect time to seek out any red flags from your future employer. Just like dating, if you have a bad feeling about an employer, it’s good to know when to walk away.
4. Being over-prepared for a job interview is better than being unprepared.
Always come prepared with a copy of your resume (in colour if your resume has colour) and a typed up copy of your references and any printed samples of your work if it applies.
It may seem unnecessary because really, the interviewer should have printed anything they may need, but things happen. And like we talked about before, you’re resume was probably only reviewed for 2 minutes during the initial application process and glanced over once prior to the interview. The interviewer may be printing it off just before you walk in and their printer may be jammed or they simply didn’t have time. Having a paper copy for them, means you’re always prepared even if they aren’t, which will immediately impress the interviewer. And even if they never ask for copies of anything, it’s always better to be prepared. The worse that can happen is that your documents stay in your folder for the interview untouched. Another thing to be prepared for is stains (bring a tide to go stick or wear dark colours), dehydration (bring water in case the interviewer doesn’t offer one) and ALWAYS turn off your phone.
Pro Tip: If your resume does have colour always test out printing it in black and white as well to ensure the design is still visible. Most interviewers will print your resume in black and white because damn, colour ink is expensive.
5. Sometimes an employer is just as desperate as you are.
Interviewing candidates takes A LOT of time. And sometimes employers also desperate to have an employee start as soon as possible because they are overloaded with work. In a perfect world, employees give plenty of notice, there’s no bureaucracy from HR to start the hiring process for another candidate, and the company gets fantastic candidates applying as soon as the posting goes up and has the availability to start interviews/accept the offer as soon as possible.
But 99% of the time that’s not the case.
Sometimes hiring processes can take forever (I work in government so this is definitely the case) and sometimes you don’t get good candidates applying so you’re searching for a long time. Meanwhile, the old employee has left, even if they gave notice, and now their workload is piling up and being stretched onto other team members.
This is important to know because depending on the situation, you can use it to your advantage. It’s hard for any candidate to have 100% of all the skills, qualifications and experience that an employer is looking for, so if you don’t meet it 100%, but know they really need someone, you can market yourself to the position by highlighting your willingness to learn. Many employers can see potential and look for a good attitude and willingness to learn and adapt as an important factor as well. If the employers are in a desperate situation, they may be willing to train someone on the few skills or software that you don’t have (because not everyone knows every software) and overlook certain experiences that can be taught.
You can determine if your interviewer is desperate for a candidate by asking why the last candidate left the position or about the workload and challenges of the position. Using this information, you can take the opportunity to further convince the interviewer that they should take a chance on you for the reasons you are about to explain. Even if you don’t have 100% of the qualifications, companies are willing to take a chance on the right candidate.
6. “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable answer.
If you don’t know an answer, just say it.
It’s 100% okay not to know everything about a job before you start it.
If you don’t know an answer, you can explain the parts you do know/reasoning behind your action and then tell them how you would find the answer to follow up.
And you know what? Some employers actually purposely ask questions that they know their candidate won’t know just to see how they will respond because they want to know how you will respond in a situation with a client. Lying about an answer is the worst thing you can do because the employer won’t’ be able to trust you to work with clients well. Trying to BS your way through an answer will actually do more harm than good.
No one is perfect and we are all humans. So if you don’t know an answer, it’s okay to say so. The most important thing to do at that point is, to be honest.
At the end of the day, job interviewers are hard but these are key details that will make the process easier once you understand where the other side is coming from. Having worked on hiring panels, I can say that I’ve also encountered every one of these situations. Job interviews can be hard but they are SO MUCH easier when you put yourself into someone else’s shoes and understand where they are coming from. And hey, there’s nothing wrong with using it to your advantage to ensure you are the standout candidate.
Good luck! And if you would like more interview help, check out the following resources:
– MLA Job Search Tracker: This excel sheet keeps me accountable and organized when going through the job search process (so I don’t end up with a million tabs open and missing deadlines)
– MLA Interview Questions Study Guide: I created this study guide for job interviews because I get SO NERVOUS during interviews that I feel like I want to throw up. Having this guide not only keeps me organized and prepared, but it also helps calm my nerves because I’m not scared of blanking out during an interview.
– MLA Resume Templates: I’ve created my own line of resume templates that are design AND ATS (applicant tracking system) friendly. After years of having to choose between a boring, generic, resume template and a beautifully designed resume bought on Etsy (that couldn’t be read by computers), I’ve spent months combining the two! Check out the entire line here.