Don't Sweat the Interview Marathon
According to several experts in the recruiting and HR space, today’s interview process has evolved into an event consisting of several rounds of interviews and many different meetings within each interview day scheduled. To job seekers, this may seem like an intimidating and daunting process, so here are some tips on how to survive what has become the Interview Marathon.
Expect a long race.
Jene Kapela, owner and founder of Florida-based leadership coaching firm Jene Kapela Leadership Solutions, says it is now the norm for candidates to be called in for multiple interviews with multiple interviewers. “It is not uncommon for companies to require job candidates to participate in a series of interviews with different people at the company. This makes sense when you consider that most jobs do not exist in isolation and individuals can’t be successful without working closely with others,” Kapela says. Kapela further explains that the hiring manager wants feedback from employees who will be potentially working with the candidate, and the only way to do that is to set up multiple sessions.
According to Dave Denaro, vice president of career management firm Keystone Associates, job seekers can expect everyone they meet with as part of the interview process to compare notes later. “Keep your answers consistent,” Denaro cautions. “The reason you left your last position, what your strengths are, what your salary history is, etc. might be asked by each person you meet.” Denaro warns that if there are any discrepancies in answers, or even in the way a candidate presents themselves, this can be seen as a red flag by a potential employer. Liz Lierman, director of career services at Bard College, agrees that consistency is important, but says that doesn’t mean job seekers have to sound like a broken record. “You may be asked the same question multiple times, or you may encounter questions that are similar to one another. Your answers should be consistent, but try to bring something new to the table, perhaps by varying the examples you use to illustrate your points,” suggests Lierman.
Prepare for each individual interviewer.
While our experts warn that each interviewer will compare notes, they may not have been briefed by their colleagues prior to meeting with the candidate themselves. Kapela advises candidates to view each interviewer separately, cautioning job seekers not to assume that each person they meet with has been filled in on everything communicated earlier in the day. “It might feel like you are being repetitive, but each person is meeting you for the first time,” Kapela says, advising candidates to be thorough in their answers to each question from each interviewer. Denaro recommends preparing for each interview on the agenda by securing a schedule for the day and researching each individual on the list if possible. “You are looking in particular for the schools they attended and the companies they’ve worked for, all the while hoping that you have some experiences in common,” says Denaro. “If you do have a workplace or school in common, mention it in the icebreaker phase of the interview.” Denaro says that mentioning commonalities at the beginning of the interview can get the meeting off to a positive start.
Stay high energy.
A long day of interviewing (or several long days) can be exhausting, but our experts warn that it is imperative for candidates not to appear to run out of steam as the day goes on. “Stay energetic! Be just as enthusiastic in the last meeting of the day as you were in the beginning,” Kapela advises. Kapela says that job seekers are branding themselves throughout interview process, and how they brand themselves reflects on what type of employee they will become if hired, so she warns against creating an image of sluggishness.
Our experts agree that just because the race may be long, that doesn’t mean candidates won’t eventually cross the finish line. The effort put into the interview process will make landing that job all the more sweet.