Few jobs are attained without having to go through multiple interviews. We all have had to prepare for interviews but how many of us actually prepare for multiple interviews differently? Be aware that you need to, because not all interviews are the same, nor are the people who are you interviewing you looking for the same thing. Let’s go through three different interviews and see if we can’t learn something about the differences of each session:
The First Interview aka “The Screening” – The first interview in most companies is not done by the decision-maker. Instead we are paired up with someone from Human Resources or someone from the team who has been put in charge of recruiting. Because of this, the first interview is seldom about our technical skills or our competency in doing the job. Instead, this interview is about being screened for fit with the company’s culture and the company’s “success pattern”. The interviewer is trying to match our career pattern with those who are most successful in the company. The pattern is how fast we have moved up, how many jobs have we had, how long have we stayed in a job, etc. On the cultural side it is about our values, principles and priorities versus the company. The interviewer is going to spend most, if not all, of the time on these areas. In this interview, all will go better if we are listening carefully and have done our homework (like looking at the interview reviews and questions on Glassdoor.com) to get a good feel for the company and people who are successful. It sounds superficial but, as an example, if the culture is one of ex-athletes, it sure doesn’t hurt for the interviewer to know that you are a sports nut and stay active.
The Second Interview aka “Can We Work With You?” – Congratulations, you made it through the screen. Now you get to meet people who you will be working with and you may even meet the decision-maker in this round. If you do, then you should know who that is before you go into the interview meetings. It’s okay, ask your initial recruiter who that is and also ask for the coaching on how best to impress her/him. For all the rest of the people in this interview round they are looking at you to see if they can work with you. This can mean, how much do you know, how hard will it be to bring you up to speed (translation…how hard are they going to have to work at training you), how do you work on a team, how serious do you take yourself versus them, are you going to be a partner or a competitor? This is the time to go deep with your skills, competence, ability, and how you work with others. The consensus meeting will be all about what you can do and how you do it.
The Last Interview aka “Please, Keep Me From Having To Veto My Team” – The final interview is with the decision-maker who has been debriefed and prepped on you. This can happen on a separate day or be the last interview of the second round of interviews. Either way, this interview is very important. You have gotten to this stage because everyone either loves you, or there was enough of a consensus to get you one more 30 – 60 minutes meeting . The decision-maker will usually come into this interview wanting to like you because if she/he doesn’t then there is going to be a conflict and he/she is going to have to run against the grain with the team and who wants to do that? Plus, the decision-maker is going to have to defend their reasoning if they ding you. They just can’t come out of the meeting and say, “I just didn’t like…” What you can do to make this interview successful is to be sure that you are connecting with this person. He/she needs to feel like you will be good on the team, that you really want the job and that you have learned something throughout the interviews. This is the time to play back what you have heard and put your own stamp of thinking, skills and accomplishments on the goals and objectives of the company and/or the department. If the decision-maker sees you as a key person to get the bigger job done, then that is great. The more you can connect at this level then the more she/he is going to come out of the meeting with a “thumbs up”.
Always be sure to think and prepare ahead for each interview differently!