Job seekers looking for tips, tricks, and hacks on getting beyond the first round of the interview process and ultimately converting interviews into job offers have an abundance of information available to assist them. So much so, that without putting these tools into practice with trial and error, it may feel overwhelming to figure out what will work best. The interview process can be stressful, especially for those who are out of practice, just starting their job search, or those who are fearful or anxious about interviewing.
Women carry additional stress and anxiety when it comes to interviewing. Studies show that gender bias adversely affects the types of roles women feel confident pursuing, the types of roles for which they interview, and even the types of questions they are asked in interviews. These extra roadblocks can make the interview process harder to demystify. These six little-known facts provide insight into what is going on behind the scenes during the interview process and will assist women in advance to the final round.
6 little-known facts about the job interview process
1. Recruiters are available to offer guidance and act as advocates and champions for you
At the recruiter phone screen stage
In most instances, recruiters are the first point of contact for the roles you’re pursuing. Once a job seeker advances past the resume review to the phone screen, they gather information and provide logistical and tactical details about the interview process—the timeline for filling the role, the number of rounds of interviews, and the remaining steps after the first interview. Use the time during the initial phone screen and leading up to the interview to gather crucial information such as insight into team dynamics, the makeup and expectations of the hiring team, examples of the types of questions interviewer(s) will ask, and what it takes to successfully complete assessment tests or presentations.
At the formal interview stage
Hiring managers look to the recruiter to handle the background information about the company and role. Getting these preliminaries out of the way reduces the likelihood of repeating everything that was discussed during the initial phone interview/screen during the formal interview. Recruiters provide the necessary feedback to the hiring team that successfully advances job seekers to the formal interview stage and weigh in on which job seekers should move forward to the next round to meet with them. Building rapport with recruiters is key. When they believe you’re a potential fit, they champion your candidacy throughout the recruiting process. Utilize them as both a communication liaison and subject matter expert. The fact of the matter is, they want to fill their open roles. So why not put yourself in a better position to improve your chances that they advocate for filling one with you?
2. Looking for STAR quality
Interviews are often seen as auditions, and you want to land the role. When preparing for the interview, many job seekers put more emphasis on researching the company, role, and familiarizing themselves with the interview team than they do strategizing how to demonstrate how their skills, experience, and knowledge can be applied and add value. As a result, they rely heavily on walking through their resume instead of taking a deeper dive. This is your time to shine like a STAR. Use the resume as a guide and prepare to discuss in detail the situations, tasks, actions, and results of your work. Use the interview to highlight how the best of your work and the problems you solved will be a value add to the team.
3. It’s a conversation
The best interviews are less one-sided interrogation and more two-way conversation. While the interviewer(s) ultimately set the tone, the interviewee’s focused and intentional engagement is what decides how rigid and formulaic the interview will be. Interviewers respond well to enthusiasm and job seekers who are able to exchange ideas. The interviewer(s) are observing verbal AND non-verbal cues. The interviewee should be attuned to the same. The goal is to leave an impression of what it will be like to work with you, and you should walk away with the same information.
4. Honesty is the best policy
At the recruiter phone screen stage
Again, the phone screen is a decision point for both the organization and the job seeker. At this juncture, the recruiter is using the job seeker’s resume as a reference point and the job seeker is using the job posting and branded content from the organization as theirs. Many times job seekers will uncover information about base pay, benefits, career development, advancement opportunities, work-life balance, role expectations, and company culture that is in opposition to or not closely aligned with what they desire for their next role. Instead of removing themselves from consideration at that point, many will advance to the interview stage in hopes that things will drastically change, and they don’t. Being honest with the recruiter saves time and frees the job seeker up to pursue the next opportunity that is better fit.
At the formal interview stage
As women are taking more control of their job search narratives and rightfully choosing their mental wellness over making things work at toxic workplaces, there is still a tendency for some to downplay, sugarcoat, or refrain from speaking about their experiences for fear of coming across as too negative. It is possible to be honest in a constructive way, and it is impressive when job seekers can speak about both their positive and negative experiences in a diplomatic and balanced manner. It is also impressive when job seekers are upfront about the areas where they need improvement and further development. That type of self-awareness is an indication that you are coachable.
5. The tables will turn
There is an expectation that job seekers will come with questions. A prepared list of thoughtful questions to ask at the end of the interview is always a plus for the interview team. Job seekers who ask questions about company culture, team fit, and that demonstrate the job seeker is informed and seeking to determine if the organization is right for them resonates well with the interviewers. Job seekers who don’t have questions for the interview team are often rated lower and viewed as disinterested. In some cases, the prepared questions are answered before they are asked so it is also favorable when job seekers take notes and formulate questions during the interview. Depending on the tone set at the beginning of your interview, you may have to wait until the end of the interview to get answers to the questions that came up during the course of the interview.
6. Feedback is welcome
Most employers are heavily invested in promoting a favorable candidate experience. This is especially true for those who are actively engaged in building more inclusive and equitable workplaces. Job seekers should keep themselves “in play” by following up with a recap, posing any questions or points of clarification that were missed during the interview, and expressing their continued interest. It is a good practice to touch bases with both the recruiter and the interviewers.
In the event that the interview led to you no longer wanting to pursue the role, give that feedback to the recruiter. Whether it is something as serious as being subjected to discriminatory behavior or just that the role is not the best fit for you, it is important to close the loop as soon as possible.