Most advice counsels job seekers to take control of their interviews. Sadly, this can be an interview disaster.
Poor Interview Etiquette
It’s common for recruiters and hiring managers to run into applicants who have taken too much “advice” about being aggressive in their job searches.
Sadly, the applicants’ execution almost always lacks finesse. Rather than impressing the people involved in the selection process, they end up annoying them and not getting job offers.
It’s important for you to respect a company’s hiring processes. Doing so shows respect for the people involved in the process, and it shows the ability to work within processes.
If you step on toes during the interview process, people will assume (rightly) that you will be an inconsiderate colleague.
Taking overt control of an interview might also convey contempt for the interviewer. Don’t expect the interviewer to like you if they think you don’t respect them.
If the interviewer doesn’t like you, it will be hard to get to the next round of interviews.
(Note: There is a research-validated way to shift the process in your favor. You can learn more about that here.)
Smart Interview Etiquette
Rather than disregarding the interview process, go with it and add to it. Answer the interviewer’s questions and add to them with information or questions of your own.
You can respect the process and show leadership. They aren’t mutually exclusive actions.
At its best, an interview is a balanced exchange of information between two or more people. As in any productive conversation between people, no one should dominate.
As a candidate, make sure the interviewer learns everything they want to know about you. Cooperate with them. Help them. Otherwise, your chance of a next round goes to about zero.
If you think the interviewer missed some good points about you, or that you haven’t had an opportunity to show what you can offer, add on at a natural place to do so. That might be during the conversation or when the interviewer has finished with his/her questions.
In adding on, be sensitive to signals of interest or disinterest from the interviewer and adjust your behavior responsively.
I always like it when a candidate adds relevant information that I have missed. It shows self-confidence, and it’s helpful.
I also like that they showed courtesy in letting me ask all of my questions.
Your Turn Will Come
As your interviews with a company continue, and you feel reasonably sure the company is interested in you, the dynamic will start a natural shift toward your concerns.
That’s when you can start asking more questions about what matters to you.
If they’re interested, they will want to have that exchange.
Updated June 2017
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