Waiting Room

Yesterday, I wrote about the fact that not all interviewers are the same. Proper interview preparation requires more than anticipating the types of questions you’ll be asked – it also requires anticipating the types of interviewers with which you will meet.

In my previous article, I explained four types of interviewer – the C-level executive, the hiring manager, the agency recruiter, and the corporate recruiter/HR pro – and the best ways to impress each one. Today, I’d like to explore three more types of interviewers. These interviewers are less common than the ones I talked about yesterday, but there’s still a good chance you’ll run across them at some point, so it’s best to be prepared.

1. Peer Interviewers

Plenty of organizations allow a candidate’s potential colleagues to participate in interviews – or at least speak to the candidates at some point. The purpose of these peer interviews is to see how well a candidate can fit in with the team culture.

Peer interviews should not be taken lightly. Many hiring managers take their subordinates’ views very seriously. If you make a bad impression on your potential colleagues, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

Even if you plan to shake things up a bit when you join a team, it’s best to keep that quiet during the interview. Focus instead on how you can fall in line. For example:

- Find out how the team works, collaborates, and socializes; then, demonstrate how you can slot right in. Say things like, “That’s how we work at company X,” or “I enjoyed collaborating like that at company Y.”

- Be a little ingratiating. The team may feel a little threatened by your presence, so praise their work where appropriate and ask them for their opinions on what it takes to do well on their team.

- Describe something beneficial that you feel you can bring to the team, like a new skill or perspective.

With peer interviewers, you ultimately want to do three things: reassure your potential colleagues that you won’t rock the boat, demonstrate respect for their achievements, and explain how you’ll bring value to the team.

2. Receptionists

DeskYou may not know it, but many companies use receptionists and other front-line staff members as unofficial interviewers. Candidates often take these people for granted, which means they’re likely to let their game faces slip while talking to receptionists and similar company employees. These off-guard moments give employers glimpses of who a candidate really is.

The lesson here is to never let your guard down – not even when you’re checking in with the receptionist. The company will be looking to see how you deal with junior employees and support staff. Your conduct in this area can say a lot about your leadership style, sense of teamwork, and personal values.

Treat receptionists and other front-line staff members respectfully, not dismissively. Bonus points if you go the extra mile and strike up a genuine conversation with them.

3. Clients

You’re only going to meet a client of a potential employer at the latest stages of the interview process. It’s not common, but depending on the company and the position you are interviewing for, a potential employer may want to see how you interact with its biggest clients.

What you want to do in this situation is outline your experiences with managing similar clients. You also want to find out about the client’s values and expectations and convince them that you approach your work in a way that aligns with these values and expectations.

In order to really impress an employer at every stage of the interview process, you need to learn how to adapt your approach to suit the individual priorities and concerns of the many personalities you’ll meet during the long hiring process. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: One-size-fits-all strategies will get you nowhere in interviews.



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