Because you are feeling vulnerable and nervous, you may think that the team interviewing you is like a panel of Olympic judges: shrewd experts looking for even the tiniest hop, bounce or bobble, for which they can deduct fractions of points. But an interviewer is probably not trying to put obstacles in your way or make you feel uncomfortable. Instead, they have likely given a lot of thought to trying to facilitate a productive conversation with you. Like you, they want this meeting to go well.
This doesn’t mean that they are easy to win over or that the competition isn’t stiff. You are competing for a job, and they are looking to make the best hire they can. But it’s helpful not overthink it. They are regular professionals working extra hard these days because they have an open position on their team or they are rounding out their workload with the demands of serving on a search committee. Either way, they are eager to find someone who has the skill set to fill the open role and will be a great fit.
These are some other things you may not know about the team that’s interviewing you:
1. They want you to feel comfortable.
It’s likely that they planned this interview to foster a productive conversation. They likely considered which questions they should ask first to break the ice and help get you talking so that you can start to feel at ease in the situation. They want this interview to foster connection and to be a good measure of your skills, your professional personality and your fit for this position.
2. They want you to be impressed.
They want you to want this job. That makes many things easier on their end. They also recognize that they are brand ambassadors for the company they represent whose hiring practices you are likely to review.
In his book Work Rules Google’s Senior Vice President of People Operations, Laszlo Bock explained, “[Y]ou don’t just want to assess the candidate. You want them to fall in love with you. Really. You want them to have a great experience…the candidate is in a very vulnerable position. It’s always worth investing time to make sure they feel good at the end of it, because they will tell other people about their experience—and because it’s the right way to treat people.”
[Related: Why Do Job Interviews Feel So Weird?]
3. Most are not trying to trick you.
In years past, Google was notorious for asking candidates outrageous and difficult interview questions. These are now discouraged in favor of a more productive approach. Bock explains “Performance on these kinds of questions is at best a discrete skill that can be improved through practice, eliminating their utility for assessing candidates. They have little if any ability to predict how candidates will perform on the job.”
“In contrast to the days when everyone in Silicon Valley seemed to have a story about their miserable Google experience, today 80 percent of people who have been interviewed and rejected report that they would recommend that a friend apply to Google. This is pretty remarkable considering that they themselves did not get hired.”
However, some companies may still pose an oddball question to access job candidates’ abilities to think on their feet. Consulting Glassdoor’s interview tools can help you learn about questions that have been posed to previous candidates along with their feedback about their interview experiences.
[Related: Your Ultimate Interview Prep Checklist]
4. They are feeling the ache too.
Those on the hiring side are hungry to find great talent, just like you are yearning to find a job that suits you. According to Glassdoor’s recruitment data, it takes nearly 52 days to fill an open position. The average cost to companies is $4,000. In 2015, 90 percent of recruiters identified the job market as candidate-driven; this was up from 54 percent in 2011. Small businesses have a greater challenge when it comes to staffing, 48 percent report having difficulty filling their open positions.
So don’t trick yourself into thinking that those in the hiring positions are on the advantaged side of the equation while you are on the disadvantaged side. There’s an ache on each side.