Interviewers: The Good & The Bad

Interviewers are like weed killers.  They come in many different packages, but they all kind of do the same thing: they attempt to select the right person for the job.  But first they must reduce the pool of qualified candidates through the interviewing process.  Understanding how the interviewers’ mind works will help you survive the cut. 

The most important thing to remember about interviewers is that they are human.  Although they try to remain objective, subjectivity creeps into the process.  An interviewer will frequently make up his mind about a candidate in the first five minutes and he may have formed his opinion even earlier than that.  Preconception, stereotyping and prejudice will often influence the interview before it begins. This influence can have either a positive or negative impact.  All interviewers are prone to predisposition, whether they realize it or not.  Self-awareness separates the good interviewers from the bad.

Assuming they have reviewed your resume in advance, the interviewer will form an opinion of you before you walk in the door.  You share the same college experience or you graduated from a rival institution.  You wrote a functional resume and she prefers chronological.  The good interviewer recognizes their preconception and will give you the entire interview to change her mindThe bad interviewer lacks this self-knowledge and nothing you do in the interview will change her opinion.  Notice how this can work both ways.  With the good interviewer, a negative preconception can be turned around but a positive one might still result in a “Dear John” letter.  With the bad interviewer, a positive impression stays that way (good news!) but you are powerless to overcome an initial negative one.

How can you use this insight?  Do your best to influence his decision once the interview begins.  Be courteous, be positive, sell yourself for the position, validate the positives, defeat the negatives, and hopefully, you will make a friend!

Posted by: Tom Wolfe, Candidate Strategies Editor and Career Coach at Bradley-Morris, Inc.