Monday, August 23, 2010

Find Out What An Interviewer Wants

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During my senior year of college, I interviewed for an information technology position at Countrywide Financial. The interviewer asked me what one of my career goals was. My response was "I want to be a CEO." I'm not sure if that was the final nail in my interview coffin, but I didn't get the job.

Though I had worked really hard to prepare myself for the interview, I failed to get to know the Countrywide interviewer. As a job seeker, it's your job to get into an interviewer's head and find out what they want. Looking back I'm not sure what she wanted to hear, but I guarantee she wasn't looking for future CEOs. If I had asked the Countrywide interviewer what she was looking for, she probably would have told me.

Here's quick and dirty example of a possible scenario:
    Employer: Thank you for coming in to interview. Are you ready to start?

    Job Seeker: I sure am. Before we get to far, may I ask what skills and experiences the right person for this position will bring to the table? I'd like to make sure I convey my most relevant qualifications.

    Employer: Sure. What we're really looking for is someone who is proficient in X, has a demonstrated interest in Y, and has spent time working in the Z industry.

Ask what the employer wants to know; I think most will tell you. The faster an employer understands what you offer in X, Y and Z, the more time you can spend getting to know each other. The more an employer knows you, the easier it is to see you doing a job you interviewed for or give you specific feedback about why you were not the right fit for the job.

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