When you interview for a job it could be because you are out of work or are trying to secure new employment that will in some fashion improve your life. Either way you may feel a sense of pressure during the interview to behave in a manner you believe your interviewer will find most acceptable. You naturally want to get the job so your answers come across as very stale, or perhaps even uptight. Essentially none of your natural personality is coming through because you’re too concerned the hiring manager won’t like you for you. The problem is, you have no idea what the hiring manager wants to see in their employees. You already have the necessary skills or else you would not have gotten the interview. Your ability to land your job will in part be based on how you behave during the interview especially the first five minutes as mentioned in my past blog. If you are tense, uptight, or provide long winded answers, you are going to bore your interviewer and they will quickly pass judgment on you.
One popular question provided by our behavioral assessment is, “If you were sitting at a red light and it didn’t change to green, how long would you sit there?” Many candidates provide overly conscientious responses to this question about how they would wait a long time, or notify a traffic cop. Here’s a great answer we received one time to this question. “Are you kidding me, I’m a New Yorker, to me a red light is just a suggestion.” That’s a great answer! The question is actually asked to determine how bold someone might be. Many interviewees over analyze the interview and rather than give a real answer, provide a conscientious answer that they think the hiring manager wants to hear. This is a mistake. Answer honestly! Your honest answer might be the answer they’ve been waiting all day to hear.
We once interviewed a candidate in the UK for a sales manager position. When asked this red light question he simply smiled and replied, “Not very long.” That’s all he said and that’s all we wanted to hear. The answer was concise and revealing. We then asked him what was the most foolish mistake he had made in his career. Rather than giving a b.s. answer about possibly not being organized enough, or neglecting his family by working so terribly hard for his past employers, he told a humorous story about how he once shut down a bank’s mainframe computer accidentally. We showed his video to the hiring manager and he not only earned a face-to-face interview but was hired. Why? Because in the interview he behaved just as he would on the job. He was professional but he was also himself and his eventual employer wanted a competent straight shooter with personality and a sense of humor.
So whether you’re taking a behavioral assessment, doing a video interview, or meeting with someone face-to-face, don’t assume you know the type of employee they want. Relax, be yourself, and answer naturally because often times, the real you is who they really want to hire.