Every story has two sides.
Every person has their own perspective.
Every person is looking out for their self-interest.
Those with above-average people skills always consider how the world looks from the other person’s point of view (POV). By imagining themselves in the other person’s shoes, they’re in a better position to understand, empathize, and build a relationship based on mutual respect.
Think of all the possible back-of-the-mind questions going through your interviewer’s head as they interview you. Some questions they’re asking themselves:
- “Will I be able to justify hiring Nick to my boss, my colleagues and the team members Nick will be working with?”
- “Will Nick be a flight risk?”
- “Is how Nick is presenting himself really who he is?”
- “Will Nick be able to hit the ground running?”
- “Can Nick help solve our problems?”
- “Will Nick be easy to manage?”
Hiring is a MASSIVE risk!
According to the US Department of Labor, a bad hire can cost the company up to 30% of the employee’s first-year salary. Mellon Financial Corporation did a study that reported bad hires can cost a company 1% – 2.5% of their revenue due to the cost of hiring and productivity loss. An interviewer isn’t going to say to themselves, “Nick seems nice. Let’s pay him tens of thousands of dollars and hope he works out.”
Savvy candidates always take the interviewer’s POV into account. Consequently, they demonstrate empathy, which is a powerful way to establish a bond with your interviewer or anyone.
In addition, your interviewer has undoubtedly been burned before by, for example, candidates who had a beard, were a Millennial, had a long commute, claimed to be a team player. During interviews candidates will “say and promise.” However, often once hired, they forget what they said and promised. Understandably, your interviewer’s hiring experiences create biases, which you have no visibility to.
Bias is an inescapable part of human nature. Despite government efforts to eliminate employers’ biases, bias will always exist in some form. This fundamental reality of human nature is why my overarching job search advice is to seek your tribe. Think: “I’m not looking for a job; I’m looking for my tribe!”
Looking for your tribe mitigates the amount of bias you’ll encounter during your job search.
“The hiring process is broken!” is something I hear from those who aren’t getting the jobs they want. The truth is employers design their hiring process (Employers own their hiring process.) to guard their self-interest, which is to make the right hires. Employers don’t hire with the foremost intention of catering to the job seeker’s self-interests. In addition to costing money and time, unsuccessful hiring also reflects poorly on the interviewer, who I can assure you doesn’t want their hiring skills questioned. I’ve made my share of “bad hires”; the fallout was never pretty. Therefore, I understand why employers are cautious about hiring.
Your interviewer’s wanting to maintain their reputation is something as a job seeker you should empathize with.
The many risks associated with hiring is why most employers tend to have a hiring process that’s conservative and lengthy (several interviews, personality tests, criminal background checks, credit checks) rather than liberal and fast.
Wishful thinking creates the false narrative that employers being cautious in their hiring practices hinders them from hiring qualified, and most important, culturally fitting candidates.
Here are your takeaways from this column:
- Walk into your interviews with one mission: To make your interviewer believe you belong.
- Before an interview, envision what it feels like to sit on your interviewer’s side of the desk.
- Visualize all the risks your interviewer will face if they hire you and then present yourself as much as possible as “risk-free.”
Your interviews will go better if you have this POV. You’ll be more persuasive simply because, right from the start, you’re focused outward, towards your interviewer, rather than inward. (“What’s in it for me” is a turn-off.)
An interview is not as cut and dry as a skill-testing question. A human being is asking you questions and judging your answers against their concerns and biases. With me, there’s no right answer, only an honest one. If your honest answer doesn’t get you hired, then so be it and move on. Moving on is a survival skill all job seekers should develop.
When interviewing, don’t agonize over trying to get inside your interviewer’s head. Keep in mind your interviewer is human and probably feels as apprehensive as you feel.