Interviewing is a two-way street: Don’t hide from the hard questions.

We can all picture the setting: candidate anxiously awaiting their first employer interview, frantically rehearsing answers to the dreaded question: “Can you list your top 3 strengths AND your top 3 weaknesses?”

(Wait, is that a trick question? Almost – but here are some tips to answer that one masterfully.)
We’ve been there. But we’ve also been on the other side and realize that in today’s job market, it is just as important for the interview-ER to be well-prepared to answer the hard questions.
While candidates are trying to sell their skillsets and expertise, surveys show that even with the challenges presented in 2020 due to COVID-19 and historically high unemployment, managers still noted a skills gap in available talent when trying to acquire the right hire.  So, when they have the opportunity to interview a high-quality candidate that could be a great fit, presenting their organization as an attractive place of employment is paramount.

In modern interviewing instances, both sides of the table need to bring their A-game.

Candidates: Be ready to highlight your real skills
The resume is the resume, and a well-written one will cross all the T’s – the past jobs, the schooling, even down to the list of programs you know how to use. This is all information [hopefully] listed on your LinkedIn profile and readily available before any potential employer even meets you. When today’s employer finally sits down across from you, they want to know how you work, how you adapt and how you can bring success to the organization as your true self.
How can you convey this information? To start, Top Resume provides a great list of the skills employers are looking for, and the top ones are almost all related to soft skills and your willingness to learn, grow and change (cue “emotional intelligence”).
Here are a few ice-breaker questions to consider as you plan your interview answers:

  • Do you seek outside educational resources to further your skillset?
  • Do you have the technical acumen to flip between work environments (remote or in-house) if the situation calls for it?
  • Can you define “artificial intelligence” and use it in a sentence?
  • Can you work well with others and do you take action to help others succeed?

Employers aren’t expecting robots (good news, robots won’t be taking over jobs in 2021); they want team members who can get the job done and inject sparks, all while truly enjoying what they do every day.

Employers: Be who you say you are
On the flip side, employers should be able to effectively highlight why their company is a place where a potential hire would even want to work. For years now, job applicants have been groomed to jot down their list of questions to ask the interviewer. And while work hours, benefits, and vacation time are all important to know, those answers are also easily found in a handbook.

Today’s candidate is discerning, and they require a deeper understanding of what the company values are and what they stand behind. Studies suggest that while the right paycheck is still the top reason for choosing a job, it’s closely followed by whether that job will bring employment satisfaction and if the organization aligns with the candidate’s values.
Concerns about equal opportunities, commitment to diversity and even environmentally-conscious policies are important to many job-seekers.  In addition, based on what the world experienced during the initial 2020 pandemic and the continual waves in the aftermath, the need for employers to address the whole being of their workers is a top HR initiative for many companies. This includes employees’ health and wellness, both physically and mentally, as well as safety measures and emergency-preparedness plans put in place to mitigate challenges that may arise. Candidates may well want to know about flexible working opportunities, safety plans, and programs available to address personal wellness.
Interviewers should be prepared to discuss these topics in a meaningful way. Because while the candidate is auditioning for a role in the organization, the organization must be true to the reputation and persona they project on stage.

Set up the working relationship for success from go
We’ve all heard the horror stories (or seen the Glassdoor reviews) about what a place is really like to work for once you take the job. Similarly, it can be terribly frustrating to learn your new hire “embellished” their way into the position. We fall back on the age-old adage of ‘honestly is the best policy” and encourage open dialogue that can help both sides discover something new about themselves and find ways towards improvement that give them an edge. If both parties agree to honestly answer the tough questions early on and treat the interview as a first step to building a solid working relationship, both parties will flourish.
At Matlen Silver, we can help both jobseekers and hiring managers prepare. By practicing Q&A scenarios with our recruiting experts, your next interviews will flow effortlessly and could be the catalyst to exciting, new working relationships. Contact us today at [email protected] and let’s talk.

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