Best Way to Learn From the Other Side of the Table at an Interview

Interviewers and interviewees can each benefit from understanding what the other should do in preparation for the interview. At a minimum, that understanding should provide both parties an appreciation for the difficulty of that preparation, and a certain empathy for the other’s task. Beyond that, though, understanding the necessary preparation for the other side of the table should suggest fruitful areas of inquiry for you in your current role. For example, an interviewee in exploring a job possibility may consider questions such as:

  • Has the interviewer really defined the characteristics he is looking for?
  • In what aspects of the job are those characteristics necessary?

Interview1 Best Way to Learn From the Other Side of the Table at an Interview

  • Are there other ways of doing the job that may enhance the value of my strengths? (If, for example, the interviewer believes the job requires an aggressive, confrontational style, can I show him how I have used a low-key, team-oriented approach to achieve results in similar situations?)
  • Do I have not only the characteristics necessary to be hired into this position, but also those necessary to advance to a higher level?
  • What are the characteristics that distinguish an outstanding performer in this position, and do I possess them?
  • An interviewer, on the other hand, may wish to consider the following:
  • What does this preparation/lack of preparation suggest about the interviewee?
  • Which elements of a job are most important for the interviewee?
  • What does that suggest about the interviewee’s likely performance on the job?
  • Does the job I have to offer suit the interviewee’s job-selection criteria?

Finally, understanding the necessary preparation from the other side of the table may allow you to help the other person undertake that preparation, after the interview. And that effort may benefit not only you, but future generations of interviewers and interviewees as well.

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