There are three questions that applicants must put to rest in every job interview:
- Can I trust this person?
- Will this person embarrass me?
- Will this person fit in?
These questions might not be asked, but the concerns behind them are the interview's backdrop. The applicant who reassures the employer on each point will be far ahead of those who do not. Let's consider the components:
Can I trust this person? This relates both to integrity and competence. It is common knowledge that any deception, overstatement, or gap on a resume can cause trust to evaporate, but so too may any hint that the applicant's performance will be sporadic or half-hearted. Reliability trumps genius with many an employer.
Will this person embarrass me? This component can be grossly subjective and unfair, since the interviewer's vision of the right candidate may be superficial or biased (Winston Churchill would not make it past most oral boards). Still, the savvy applicant will make sure that the inner professionalism is reflected via appearance and discretion.
Will this person fit in? In other words, "Will the team accept you?" This can be an extremely difficult point for the applicant to address unless the team is brought in for the interviews. In most cases, the decision will be determined by the interviewer's perception of the team's viewpoint. (You can imagine the accuracy level of that translation). Moreover, the "team" may in fact be several teams at several levels. Applicants should head off any fears by noting occasions when they successfully participated in team projects and committees.
These questions remind us of a basic truth: The successful applicant puts the interviewer at ease. An uncomfortable interviewer is a potentially hostile one. The main theme for many successful interviews is not brilliance or creativity but reassurance.
Michael Wade writes Execupundit.com, an eclectic combination of management advice, observations, and links. A partner with the Phoenix firm of Sanders Wade Rodarte Consulting Inc., he has advised private and public-sector organizations for more than 30 years.