I’m Hired! Why Your Interviewer is Looking for Them, Not You

The Careereon Blogging Team
November 3, 2023

I’m Hired!

Why Your Interview is Looking for Them, Not You


The uniqueness of the individual is spoken about as one of the greatest attributes a person, particularly a job candidate, can bring to the table. Originality, new perspectives and viewpoints are cherished among progressive companies who recognize that too narrow an approach to decision-making can quickly lead to stagnation, complacency, and see a company fall behind the competition, specifically competitors who know enough how to recognize industry changes and have the diverse thinking needed to keep up and stay ahead.

The question is whether such thinkers are the ones making the hiring decisions, or even those charged with reviewing resumes, and more importantly, which to consider and which to exclude. The exclusions are lost forever, meaning those progressive thinkers and varied viewpoints may never get the chance to consider these candidates for themselves. This is why it is critical to think as much about the people charged with resume sorting and review, and having a solid check and balance system that ensures that if the first pair of eyes misses a good candidate, the chances are slim that multiple people will do the same.

Ultimately, only a small fraction of resumes received are moved along for phone screening and interviewing. With the average length of time a person, whether recruiter, HR, or Talent Team, spends reviewing each resume being less than ten seconds, there is no doubt several, if not many, good candidates worthy of consideration that never make it to any meaningful step in the hiring process. Once a candidate pool is constructed among those deemed possibly fit for hire, the process moves forward to personal contact with a dozen or more candidates on average.

The ME Paradox

The Resume

What do we look for in a resume? The requisite skills, experience, education, goals, necessary languages, etc. In general, all are looking for the same things when hiring for any role, which is as close a match to the needs of the open job as possible. Additionally, the stronger the relationship, and more extensive pre-work done, between the hiring team and team the person hired would join makes a huge difference in making the right hire. Those initial reviews from resume review to initial contact are typically more often done by recruitment teams, particularly for larger companies. Even the most experienced professionals charged with recruitment are not immune to personal biases, which can come through in the people they select and those they exclude from moving forward, most of which have nothing to do with actual discrimination, as much as ‘we like people like us’!

‘We went to the same college’
‘We are connected on LinkedIn’
‘We are both single parents’
‘We are both skiers…travelers…MBAs…etc’
‘We both have kids in college’

There are limitless ways we find ourselves connected with people, and let’s face it, we love connection, and privately or publicly, it counts for something. Within the hiring process, it can make the difference between being passed along with those quickly dispatched, and being pooled with those selected for next steps, even when that ‘connected candidate’ does not otherwise appear consistent with those already selected.


The Interview

Much like the review of resumes, the interview process, whether done in one round for some lower-level roles, or in multiple rounds for management and executive roles, will often begin with the same person or team who scanned the resumes, filtering some in and most out. With enough pre-work done, the recruiter/manager should have a solid idea of what the opening calls for and the type of candidate that will fit the team dynamic. “I know what we need, and what I am looking for!”. Yet the same issue happens, and more impactfully at this stage, as we get to see, meet, and experience the candidate on a personal level.

What we very often look for is…Us. We like people like us. We like familiarity, and we can’t stop our brains likening the behaviors, communication style, language, non-verbals, right through skills and experience to either ourselves or to those we know. And when we see similarities between the candidate we are meeting with and the team they would be joining, it is powerful. As an interviewer there is an ongoing inner dialogue of everything being communicated by the candidate that prompts this categorization and matching of ‘type’ as we look for whom within the team they would mix with well, whom they seem ‘just like’, and while the candidate goes on in response to each question, the interviewer can’t help but picture the person in the role and quickly assess whether it makes sense or may not be the right fit. Brains are the world’s most powerful computers, and all of this can happen in the span of an interview, which can lead to fairly quick, while not necessarily accurate, hiring decisions.

“They are our type of person”
“The manager will love this candidate”
“I don’t see the candidate mixing well with the team”
“They have the skills, but the personality may not fit”

No matter what area of assessment, it is being considered and judged every second and every minute of every interview. Few candidates get to the table without having the qualifications and experience. The purpose of the interview is less about proving that, and more about showing that you are the right person, who has the right personality, to be the right fit for the company and team. Generally, everyone coming in for the interview ‘Can’ do the job. It is identifying the person the interview wants to do the job, and believes the team and leadership they would report to would want to work with them each day.

As much as solid prep work is critical to a successful interview, it can’t be understated how important it is to bring the whole package into the interview, not simply the stats, the data, and the list of accomplishments and skills developed. How well you can tell your story, how interestingly you can detail your career and experience in the right manner will make all the difference. The experience and skills get you in the door. The ability to articulate, and leverage charisma and likability, gives the interviewer the confidence that a candidate can do the work the role calls for, and become a great team member and team player who will mix well with their new colleagues is as, if not more, important to select a candidate of choice.

No one can accurately identify the people they will meet when walking into an interview, so there is little prep work to be done to expect to present the persona and story that will instantly resonate with the interviewer or hiring manager. But preparing adaptively so that you can try to mirror your style to that of the people you meet with is something that can be developed. The candidate knows their story, knows where they have been and what they have done. Skipping the additional prep work that helps a candidate to be relatable and likable to those they meet with is a mistake, and something that will cause many, even those who on paper look to be a top candidate, to ultimately not move forward in a hiring process, and not get the job.

There are many great articles and books that can help a person research how to mirror style, and to quickly assess their audience to deliver in the manner they sense will resonate with an interviewer. Do the research, practice just like you would in articulating your career story sequentially and logically so it exudes authenticity. The manner and style in which you do it, and the stronger you are able to do so, will put you in that final candidate pool and give you what you need to prove you are not only skilled enough to do the role, but are the right person to do it.

At CareerEon, we can help! From Resume Building to Interviewing Skills, Networking, and Industry Research, we work personally with you to build your strategy and skills to help you take the next step in your career.

Schedule a Call Today and Let’s Get To Work! https://www.careereon.com/contact-us/

You are the Expert in What You Do, We are the Experts Who Prepare you to Do It!


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