The Recruitment Underground Blog

Career Skills, Training and Transitions

Reading the Interviewer’s Mind – Part 2

Posted by jamesseetoo on April 16, 2010


So, you’ve come face to face with the interviewer.  How do you know if he’s a Tester or an Investor?  Well, it’s pretty easy.  All you have to do is ask.  This, by the way is one of the big red flags that pop up with candidates.  They don’t ask questions.  Remember, an interview is a conversation, a dialogue.  That means there’s a give and take.  It’s not a or at least should not be an interrogation and if the interviewer doesn’t let you ask questions right back that should be a red flag for you not to join this company no matter what they offer you.  Okay, a million dollars might change my mind or any number above that but we have to have some boundaries here.

But back to the matter at hand.  It’s absolutely appropriate to ask how many people they’ve interviewed for the job.  That’s all.  Just ask how many people they’re interviewing.  Most likely they’ll both have interviewed several people but it’s the follow-up question that will give you the key to understanding if she’s a Tester or an Investor.

That question is: “Where were the other candidates lacking?”

The Tester will generally have a list of things he’s looking for wand will give a pretty detailed answer of what he’s not getting.  The Investor will talk about “not the right fit” or something to that effect.

Now again, the important thing to know about Testers and Investors is that this is just a strategy that the interviewer is following.  So when you catch on to their strategy you’ll be on the same page as they are and that gives you an immediate leg up in the interview.

How to talk to the Tester

The Tester will have a list of things that she wants in a candidate and they’ll be pretty specific. The interview will probably go along a pretty well choreographed pattern as the Tester checks off the boxes on her list.  So you’ve got to take the initiative and ask: “What’s important for you in the person you want in this job?”  Take control of the situation.  Too many people are afraid to ask and hope that the interviewer will let something slip.  The fact is, you’re both there for a reason.  The interviewer wants to check off his boxes and either you’ve got what he wants or you don’t.  But he’ll assume you don’t if you don’t cover those things and let’s face it, most interviews have a pretty finite time limit.  That is, unless you’re really hitting those things, let’s call them criteria, that the Tester is looking for and then you’ll be surprised at how much extra time you get to make your case.

Next – How to talk to the Investor

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