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8 Things Interviewers Look for During an Interview But They Didn’t Tell You

8 Things Interviewers Look for During an Interview But They Didn’t Tell You

Sitting in front of an interviewer is probably one of the most daunting situations we can encounter. We usually put a lot of research into how best to answer questions, to put our best experiences and capabilities forward and make as good an impression as possible.

But what exactly do interviewers look for in a potential candidate? What qualities do they really look for when sizing us up for the position?

If you know what these are, you can make sure you tick all their boxes during the interview and leave knowing you’re definitely in the running for the job.

The Most Common Questions on an Interviewer’s Mind

So you’re in the interview and answering all the questions as thoroughly and informatively as you can. But what untold questions are going on in the interviewer’s mind? What are they looking for behind your answers? Here is a list of 8 common thoughts an interviewer has when meeting a potential employee.

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1. Do You Actually Answer the Questions I Ask?

It’s always recommended to prep on common interview questions and rehearsing how you would answer them, but the danger with this is you can regurgitate an answer you’ve thought about, trying to make it fit the question. In the process you may not really be giving an answer they are looking for.

The key is to be in the moment when listening to the questions they ask and try to respond naturally and in a conversational tone if possible. Overly-prepared answers can come across as parrot-like and detached so try to connect with the interviewer as much as you can.

2. Do You Have Reasonable Expectations?

All employers want happy employees to create a positive work dynamic so this is why many interviewers will look for signs of how your expectations match up to the job role. If you come across as expecting to progress much more quickly than is viable, they may question whether the role will really suit you.

Entering the interview with as much knowledge of the job role as possible is key to whether you feel you’re a good match for this job and if you’ll be truly happy in it. Be honest with yourself if you feel the job may not rise to your expectations.

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3. Are You a Problem Solver?

This is a fine line. While they are looking for examples of how you’ve solved problems in your previous job roles, being over-confident and explaining how you will apply these skills to change the company is a no-no. Remember you’re still only in the interview process and, while you may think it’s showing yourself in a good light, the interviewer may find this a case of trying too hard.

4. Do You Know Who You Are and What You Really Want?

Having a good, flowing interaction in your interview is the ideal scenario. This shows you’re confident in who you are and what you’re wanting from the experience and the role. But usually in our nervousness and over-preparation, our answers can come across as disjointed and this can be seen as a reflection of ourselves.

Don’t try to be someone you’re not. This will be more obvious to the interviewer than you think. Relax and spend some time thinking about how your experiences, qualities and what you can bring to the role reflects your personality.

5. Are You High Maintenance?

Asking too many questions pre-interview or having complaints or concerns may seem to you like you’re taking initiative or showing off your confidence and strong personality, but this can come across as being too high maintenance. No employer wants to feel like they’d be dealing with a potential difficult employee and this may make you lose the chance of the job.

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It may seem pedantic but it’s these subtle clues that people can pick up on especially in an interview situation.

6. Are You Showing Me Your Real Self?

Are you telling me the truth or what you want me to hear? This has crossed the minds of many interviewers. Again, over-prepared answers can be easily detected as they are heard over and over again and can come across as being disingenuous. This causes the interviewer to question whether you’re just going through the motions to get the job and whether you really want it.

While you may genuinely be interested in the job, don’t fall into this trap. Spend time thinking of ways to answer the questions to paint a picture of your personal fit for the job rather than bog-standard responses.

7. Would I Like to Work With You on a Daily Basis?

You might be a perfect fit for the job but often the interviewer is looking from a human level to whether you will bring a positive influence to the workplace. Often they will see if you’re a trustworthy person with good work ethics – basically someone they can rely on and not have to constantly monitor and deal with in a negative way.

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This is usually picked up through the many different answers you give so make sure you structure your responses in a way that reflects this.

8. What Is Your Body Language Conveying to Me?

When it comes to body language it’s fairly straight forward – don’t slouch, smile, make good eye-contact and don’t fidget too much. However, when we’re in a nervous state we can forget how we’re coming across.

People will always subconsciously pick up on body language both positive and negative. Don’t worry to much about coming across as nervous – most interviewers will expect this to some degree but be aware of your posture and make sure you try to be as natural as possible especially when it comes to smiling. Once you are in this mindset, you are more likely to relax and have a more flowing interview.

When it comes to interviews, the key is to be as natural as possible. Let your personality shine through in a positive way and remember – interviewers are human too – so creating a good-flowing interaction where you try and connect with the other person on a positive level will help go towards bagging that job.

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on October 21, 2019

How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination, is a reminder of why I am so drawn to leadership as a topic. Whenever I think it is impossible for me to be more impressed with her, she proves me wrong.

Earlier this week, a former marine suggested that he had been in a long-term sexual relationship with the Senator. She flipped the narrative and used the term “Cougar,” a term used to describe older women who date younger men, to reference her alma mater.

Rather than calling the young man a liar, or responding to the accusations in kind, she re-focused the conversation back to her message of college affordability and lifted up that “Cougar” was the mascot for her alma mater. She went on to note that tuition at her school was just $50 per semester when she was a student. Class act.

But by the end of the week, news broke that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, another contender for the presidency, had a heart attack. Warren not only wished Sanders a speedy recovery but her campaign sent a meal to his staff. She knew that the hopes of staff, donors and supporters were with the Senator from Vermont and showed genuine compassion and empathy.

To me, she has proven time and time again that she is more than a presidential candidate: she belongs in a leadership hall of fame.

What makes some people excel as leaders is fascinating. You can read about leadership, research it and talk about it, yet the interest in leadership alone will not make you a better leader.

You will have more information than the average person, but becoming a good leader is lifelong work. It requires experience – and lots of it. Most importantly, it requires observation and a commitment to action. Warren observed what was happening with Sen. Sanders, empathized with his team and then took action. Regardless of the outcome of this election, Sanders’ staff will likely never forget her gesture.

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You would have had to work on a political campaign in order to appreciate the stress and anxiety that comes with it. In this moment, staff may not remember everything that Warren said throughout the lengthy campaign, but they will remember what she did during an unforgettable time during the campaign.

If this model of leadership is appealing, and if you are searching for how to up your own leadership game, read on for six characteristics that good leaders share:

1. Good leaders are devoted to the success of the people around them.

Good leaders are not self-interested. Sure, they want to succeed, but they also want others to succeed.

Good leaders see investing in others just as important as they see investing in themselves. They understand that their success is closely tied to the people around them, and they work to ensure that their peers, employees, friends and family have paths for growth and development.

While the leaders may be the people in the spotlight, they are quick to point to the people around them who helped them (the leaders) enter that spotlight. Their willingness to lift others inspires their colleagues’ and friends’ devotion and loyalty.

2. Good leaders are not overly dependent on others’ approval.

It is important for managers to express their support for their teams; good leaders must be independent of the approval of others. I explained in an article for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, that:[1]

“While a desire to be loved is natural, managers who prioritize approval from subordinates will become ineffective supervisors who may do employees harm. For example, a manager driven by a need for approval may shy away from delivering constructive feedback that could help an employee improve. A manager fearful of upsetting someone may tolerate behavior that degrades the work environment and culture.”

In yet another example, a manager who is dependent on the approval of others may not make decisions that could be deemed unpopular in the short run but necessary in the long run.

Think of the coaches who integrated their sporting teams. Their decision to do so, may have seemed odd, and even wrong, in the moment, but time has proven that those leaders were on the right side of history.

3. Good leaders have the capacity to share the spotlight.

Attention is nice, but it is not the prime motivator for good leaders. Doing a good job is.

For this reason, good leaders are willing to share the spotlight. They aren’t threatened by a lack of attention, and they do not need credit for every accomplishment. They are too focused on their goal and too focused on the urgency of their work.

4. Good leaders are students.

In the same way that human beings are constantly evolving, so too are leaders. As long as you are living, you have the potential to learn. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you think you have; you can always learn something new.

I have the experience of thinking I was doing everything right as a manager, only to receive conflicting feedback from my team. Perhaps my approach was not working for my team, and I had to be willing to hear their feedback to improve.

Good leaders understand that their secret sauce is their willingness to keep receiving information and keep learning. They aren’t intimidated by what they do not know: As long as they maintain a willingness to keep growing, they believe they can overcome any obstacle they face.

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As both masters and students, good leaders read, listen and study to grow. They consume content for information, not just entertainment purposes. They aren’t impressed with their knowledge; they are impressed with the learning journey.

5. Good leaders view vulnerability as a superpower.

It means “replacing ‘professional distance and cool,’ with uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure,” said Emma Sappala in a Dec. 11, 2014, article, “What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable” for Harvard Business Journal.[2] She went on to note the importance of human connection, which she asserts is often missing at work.

“As leaders and employees, we are often taught to keep a distance and project a certain image. An image of confidence, competence and authority. We may disclose our vulnerability to a spouse or close friend behind closed doors at night but we would never show it elsewhere during the day, let alone at work.”

This rings so true for me as a woman leader. I was raised believing that any show of emotion in the workplace could be used against me. I was raised believing that it was best for women leaders to be stoic and to “never let ‘em see you sweat.” This may have prevented me from connecting with employees and colleagues on a deeper, more personal level.

6. Good leaders understand themselves.

I am a huge fan of life coach and spiritual teacher Iyanla Vanzant. In addition to her hit show on the OWN network, Vanzant has authored dozens of books. In her books and teachings, she underscores the importance of knowing ourselves fully. She argues that we must know what makes us tick, what makes us happy and what makes us angry.

Self-awareness enables us to put ourselves in situations where we can thrive, and it also enables us to have compassion when we fall short of the goals and expectations we have for ourselves. Relatedly, understanding ourselves will allow us to know our strength. When we know our strengths, we will be able to put people around us who compliment our strengths and fill the gaps in our leadership.

Final Thoughts

Being a good leader, first and foremost, is an inside job. You must focus on growing as a person regardless of the leadership title that you hold. You cannot take others where you yourself have not been. So focusing on yourself, regardless of your time or where you are in your career will have long term benefits for you and the people around you.

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Further, if you want to become a good leader, you should start by setting the intention to do so. What you focus on grows. If you focus on becoming a better leader, you will research and invest in things that help you to fulfill this intention. You will also view the good and bad leadership experiences as steppingstones that hone your character and help you improve.

After you set the intention, get really clear on what a good leader looks like to you. Each of us has a different understanding of leadership. Is a good leader someone who takes risk? Is a good leader, in your estimation, someone who develops other leaders? Whatever it is, know what you’re shooting for. Once you define what it means to be a good leader, look for people who exemplify your vision. Watch and engage with them if you can.

Finally, understand that becoming a good leader doesn’t happen overnight. You must continually work at improving, investing in yourself and reflecting on what is going well and what you must improve. In this way, every experience is an opportunity to grow and a chance to ask: ‘What is this experience trying to teach me?’ or ‘what action is necessary based on this situation?’

If you are committed to questioning, evaluating and acting, you are that much closer to becoming a better leader.

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Featured photo credit: Sam Power via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Why Good Managers Overcome the Desire to Be Liked
[2] Harvard Business Journal: What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable

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