Three Things An Interviewer Won’t Tell You

Three Things An Interviewer Won’t Tell You

A cute tender white English bull terrier is sleeping on a bed under a white knitted blanket.

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An interview is similar to a game of poker. Players look for “tells” and keep their cards closely guarded.

A job interview is a negotiation, a game of “cat and mouse” between a company and a candidate. As a candidate, you share your best material and remain vigilant in hiding your least flattering moments.

You can’t expect a company to behave differently. Hiring managers need to convince you to choose their company over competitors.

For that reason, they want to position the opportunity in the best possible light. Don’t be surprised if an interviewer leaves out a few important details.

1. The Position Is Short-Term

Many positions are created to address a short-term problem.

  • An assistant position created to help a team of sales reps who are facing a surge of business that is not expected to last.
  • A compliance position to help a company respond to a new regulation that will likely only last until the next election cycle.
  • A design engineer whose role will be focused on creating a prototype that might not make it to production.

In the wake of the financial crisis, banks were forced to hire hundreds of “loss mitigation specialists.” The primary function of this position was to work through the glut of distressed debt incurred prior to the meltdown.

Once that pig worked its way through the snake, banks no longer needed the positions. Some were transferred into different roles while others saw their positions eliminated.

A company won’t tell you the short-term nature of the position you apply for, because it would dissuade good talent from accepting offers. This is a riddle you need to solve on your own by asking yourself pointed questions about the long-term need for the position.

2. The Company Is Struggling To Retain People

You might be the fourth person to apply and accept an offer for the same job in the past year. Why would a hiring manager admit that to you?

First, it is embarrassing. Rampant employee turnover says more about the manager than the employees who leave.

Second, this information would lead to more questions about the position and company.

This should not stop you from trying. A great question to ask any interviewer is, “Why is this position open?” A follow-up might be, “Where is the person who previously held this role?”

If that person was promoted or transferred to a different position, you likely have nothing to worry about. But if they left on their own terms, it is perfectly acceptable to probe for more information.

Most people find out about bad morale on their first day. You can sense it in the way your peers interact with each other and management.

But during the interview process, it is difficult to pick this up if your radar is not searching for clues.

3. You’re On Your Own

Most new employees will get off to a slow start. A Gallup poll found that only 34% of employees strongly agree that their manager knows what project or tasks they are working on.

From an on-boarding perspective, many companies get it wrong. For that reason, nearly 33% of employees start looking for a new job within six months of starting, according to a Harvard Business Review survey.

Regardless of how busy the hiring manager is, they will not admit how they will disappear as soon as you accept your job offer.

They will tell you the exact opposite. You will hear about how closely the two of you will work. They might tell you how they will be with you every step of the way.

This might be true, but feedback from actual employees would point to this being the outlier.

You can mitigate some of this risk by asking for specific questions about your on-boarding.

  • Can you tell me what my first day will look like?
  • Will I be assigned someone to train with?
  • What does the training look like?

If the interviewer is vague about answering these questions and can only offer generic platitudes, rest assured that you will be on your own from the start.

Seek Feedback Elsewhere

A candidate and an interviewer will only share so much. Both typically shine a light on the positives.

Your interviewer will check references on you, both from names you provide and others that they dig up personally. If this is part of their diligence, why can’t you do the same?

Websites like Glassdoor can offer a general glimpse into how people feel in the company, but be careful in putting too much weight on the surveys you find here.

The best performing and happiest people in a company don’t have time to sign up for an account and offer a raving review. They are busy making money. You’ll likely just get the unhappy opinions if this is where you stop.

Check some references of your own. If you are applying for an engineering position in a specific office, run a search on LinkedIn with that location and position.

You are bound to find current or former employees who worked in that role and most will be happy to offer five minutes of feedback. You can learn more from a short conversation with someone in the role than in the rest of the interview process combined.

Remember that both parties need to thoroughly vet the other in the interview process. Don’t focus all of your attention on selling your strengths and experience without investigating whether the role is one that fits what you are looking for.

To follow Ian’s writing, connect at 5on4 Group.

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A cute tender white English bull terrier is sleeping on a bed under a white knitted blanket.

Getty

An interview is similar to a game of poker. Players look for “tells” and keep their cards closely guarded.

A job interview is a negotiation, a game of “cat and mouse” between a company and a candidate. As a candidate, you share your best material and remain vigilant in hiding your least flattering moments.

You can’t expect a company to behave differently. Hiring managers need to convince you to choose their company over competitors.

For that reason, they want to position the opportunity in the best possible light. Don’t be surprised if an interviewer leaves out a few important details.

1. The Position Is Short-Term

Many positions are created to address a short-term problem.

  • An assistant position created to help a team of sales reps who are facing a surge of business that is not expected to last.
  • A compliance position to help a company respond to a new regulation that will likely only last until the next election cycle.
  • A design engineer whose role will be focused on creating a prototype that might not make it to production.

In the wake of the financial crisis, banks were forced to hire hundreds of “loss mitigation specialists.” The primary function of this position was to work through the glut of distressed debt incurred prior to the meltdown.

Once that pig worked its way through the snake, banks no longer needed the positions. Some were transferred into different roles while others saw their positions eliminated.

A company won’t tell you the short-term nature of the position you apply for, because it would dissuade good talent from accepting offers. This is a riddle you need to solve on your own by asking yourself pointed questions about the long-term need for the position.

2. The Company Is Struggling To Retain People

You might be the fourth person to apply and accept an offer for the same job in the past year. Why would a hiring manager admit that to you?

First, it is embarrassing. Rampant employee turnover says more about the manager than the employees who leave.

Second, this information would lead to more questions about the position and company.

This should not stop you from trying. A great question to ask any interviewer is, “Why is this position open?” A follow-up might be, “Where is the person who previously held this role?”

If that person was promoted or transferred to a different position, you likely have nothing to worry about. But if they left on their own terms, it is perfectly acceptable to probe for more information.

Most people find out about bad morale on their first day. You can sense it in the way your peers interact with each other and management.

But during the interview process, it is difficult to pick this up if your radar is not searching for clues.

3. You’re On Your Own

Most new employees will get off to a slow start. A Gallup poll found that only 34% of employees strongly agree that their manager knows what project or tasks they are working on.

From an on-boarding perspective, many companies get it wrong. For that reason, nearly 33% of employees start looking for a new job within six months of starting, according to a Harvard Business Review survey.

Regardless of how busy the hiring manager is, they will not admit how they will disappear as soon as you accept your job offer.

They will tell you the exact opposite. You will hear about how closely the two of you will work. They might tell you how they will be with you every step of the way.

This might be true, but feedback from actual employees would point to this being the outlier.

You can mitigate some of this risk by asking for specific questions about your on-boarding.

  • Can you tell me what my first day will look like?
  • Will I be assigned someone to train with?
  • What does the training look like?

If the interviewer is vague about answering these questions and can only offer generic platitudes, rest assured that you will be on your own from the start.

Seek Feedback Elsewhere

A candidate and an interviewer will only share so much. Both typically shine a light on the positives.

Your interviewer will check references on you, both from names you provide and others that they dig up personally. If this is part of their diligence, why can’t you do the same?

Websites like Glassdoor can offer a general glimpse into how people feel in the company, but be careful in putting too much weight on the surveys you find here.

The best performing and happiest people in a company don’t have time to sign up for an account and offer a raving review. They are busy making money. You’ll likely just get the unhappy opinions if this is where you stop.

Check some references of your own. If you are applying for an engineering position in a specific office, run a search on LinkedIn with that location and position.

You are bound to find current or former employees who worked in that role and most will be happy to offer five minutes of feedback. You can learn more from a short conversation with someone in the role than in the rest of the interview process combined.

Remember that both parties need to thoroughly vet the other in the interview process. Don’t focus all of your attention on selling your strengths and experience without investigating whether the role is one that fits what you are looking for.

To follow Ian’s writing, connect at 5on4 Group.

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