Never mind the life cycle of the Hire, how about the life cycle of the Interviewer and Candidate? Because whether you are the interviewer or candidate, the interview experience itself changes with age as our perception and often jadedness colors our experience.
Candidate: Young, palms sweating, heart racing, mouth dry, you enter the interview room in your early 20s as an over eager newby to the market keen to shine and impress. You open your mouth and either croak, dry mouth causing all speech to temporarily be suspended in brain, or your tongue twirls and immediately you begin regurgitating line after line of PR material about yourself that sounded ever so good in your head at 4am this morning from your bed. Neither is good. You know it in the pit of your stomach. Your brain is screaming it in waves of nausea. But your tongue somehow won’t listen or obey and continues to babble, or your dry mouth does not moisten and words still escape you as you mumble incoherently and remain frozen. Such is the new graduate, the new player into an ever competitive human market.
By your 30s it’s all getting a bit old, the process and procedure, the one liners you have rehearsed so well from all the interviews and situations. You are perhaps not quite cynical but you are smoother, the nausea passed some 5 years ago and rather than reveal all you have learned to play your cards close to your chest. You dance the dance with better, more precise steps.
Post 30s you know the questions better than the interviewer and you find yourself drifting during the conversation wondering if the interviewer is aware he or she has a thin film of sweat developing on the forehead, you idly wonder how many years out of grad school they are. Nonetheless you put your best foot forward as you are also aware that you are in an odd, less favorable zone thanks to your demographic.
Interviewers: Young and confident, the title emboldening you…you are the ambassador of your company. The manager. The deputy perhaps but regardless, someone of substance who someone upstairs thought was skilled enough to interview and influence the employment prospects of another person. Your suit is immaculate, your top 10 tips to interviewing firmly rehearsed and grounded in your brain where they have been since 4am this morning as you pondered them from your bed. Somehow your stomach still feels tight and a little butterfly-like as you struggle to maintain a composed, polished air of someone who has been born to lead, to question…to judge.
By your 30s it’s old hat. You stifle a yawn as you ask time old questions such as ‘What would you say you can bring to the company?’ and then attempt to conceal the glazing over your eyes as you struggle to remain attentive.
Post 30s: Preliminary interviews are done by someone else and you play email tag with recruiters looking for your ever-precious ‘feedback’. On final interviews it is more about chemistry and technical knowledge that impresses you as opposed to tick box answers to standard questions.
If you are a candidate or interviewer how do you keep it fresh? How do you avoid drifting into any of these categories?
To the young newbys, the answer is that you must suffer and pay your dues. The butterfly tummy and sweats will pass. It is your trial by fire, buckle up.
To the rest of us I believe it is about retaining a sense of humor, being human towards candidates, feeling comfortable in your own skin and approaching interviews with compassion and mindfulness. Both sides of the table can be uncomfortable or predictable but never underestimate the value of the process. Offering employment to someone after a fair, well done interview can change someone’s life. You offer them a monthly wage that will feed them and their family. Not to be taken lightly.
Welcoming them into your team and organization is also not to be taken lightly, dynamics change as does payroll. All to be taken seriously.
And candidates, keep up the effort, do your role plays and take advice and coaching sessions from recruiters, keep giving that CV a face lift. Do not get lulled into lethargy or succumb to mind numbing boredom either in the job you feel stuck in or the unemployment phase. It will all pass and regardless of the in between you will still have to perform and put on your best at each interview.