What do hiring managers most want to learn about a candidate during the face-to-face interview? If you asked a job candidate they would probably say the hiring manager wants to know if they have the necessary skills to do the job. If you asked the hiring manager they might agree.
But I have spoken to many hiring managers and HR Professionals who tell me that they know within the first five minutes of meeting a job candidate whether they are right for the job. Does the speed of reaching that conclusion suggest that maybe it wasn’t skills they were most concerned about? Well the answer is that within the first five minutes the hiring manager determined not whether the candidate could do the job but whether they could work with the candidate and if the candidate would fit into the corporate culture. Executive recruiters agree that what they most want to learn from a candidate is three things and every question asked during the interview is a variation of these three questions. The three questions are, “Can you do the job, will you like doing this job, and can I get along with you?” That’s what they want to know and when you think about it, that’s all they need to know.
The hiring manager pretty much has a good idea if a candidate can do the job from looking at the resume. All follow-up questions are asked to confirm their judgments. But within those first five minutes they can determine if a candidate will fit in culturally and if they can get along with that person as much from the information they discern from observing the candidate. Physiognomy studies prove it! Humans can draw greater insights about a person by looking at and listening to them than they can by reviewing that candidate’s resume. This is why so many managers are employing video interviewing in their hiring processes. Within a few minutes of screening a candidate’s video they can determine enough about the candidate’s enthusiasm and energy to determine if the candidate should be brought in for the face-to-face video.
What does this mean to the candidate? It means the interview isn’t all about their skills it’s mostly about them. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “Don’t take it personally,” right? Well if a candidate is rejected after the job interview the rejection very well might be personal and not about their lack of skills.
But at the end of the day, isn’t the hiring manager’s judgment about corporate fit to be relied upon? And if it is, isn’t it preferable not just for the employer but also for the candidate to find that out early and avoid the likely bad outcome if a poor fitting candidate gets hired? Isn’t not being hired a better outcome for all concerned?
So maybe we should say “It’s personal, but don’t take it personally!”