Interviews are a tricky animal. Sometimes you finish an interview thinking you did an outstanding job only to hear that there was another candidate with a better fit. Other times you think you didn’t show your best at the interview but still get an offer. These unexpected results lead to the question, “what are the interviewers looking for?”
The answer is, “it depends”. Each company has a different set of criteria. However, there are three broad categories that most employers are looking at when deciding on a candidate:
The first item they are assessing are your skills. Do you have the skills required to do the job? Typically, if you make it past the resume scan and the phone screen, the employer feels that you have some basic skills and you could do the job. However, during the interview they are going to really drill down into your specific experiences to see if those skills can translate into the way this job utilizes them.
The second item the interviewer will assess is your motivation for the job. It’s hard to quantify motivation on a resume. Consider these underlying questions:
- Why do you want this job?
- How are you going to meet the requirements of the job (look to meet them, or look to exceed them)?
- What type of effort might you put forth?
- Is this a job for you or a career?
It’s not enough to just have skills – employers want to know how you will use them and add value to the company.
Finally, employers will look at how you will fit with the company and the company culture. Every company, and sometimes teams within a company, have a distinct culture. Does your personality fit in with the culture? Do you complement the culture or will you be frustrated by it? This is an important factor to consider.
Recruiting, hiring and training new employees is expensive. Employers do not want to experience turnover if the employee does not have the right skills, the motivation to do the job, or is not a good fit. I know that it is frustrating to job seekers when they interview for a job that they don’t get. Many times I hear, “but I could do the job!” There probably wasn’t much doubt in the interviewer’s mind that you could do the job, however, did you meet all three criteria? Did you demonstrate your motivation? Or perhaps they could sense that you would not be a good fit within the culture and would be easily frustrated by how work got done.
There are many factors taken into consideration when deciding on a candidate. You are in control when it comes to demonstrating your skills and experience and how you could fit within the role. You are also in control of showing your motivation and why you want the position. However, you cannot control if you are not the right fit for an organization or team culture. While not receiving the job offer can be extremely frustrating, if you are not the right fit for the position, it is better for everyone if you are not hired.
Amy Wolfgang is a career coach who founded Wolfgang Career Coaching and co-founded Coaching 4 Good. She brings over 15 years of corporate and coaching experience to help organizations boost employee engagement while simultaneously helping her clients excel in their careers. She is a certified PCM (Professional Career Manager) and has a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin.
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