Interviews and interviewers take many forms. In some cases, you may be speaking with leadership personnel, going over the job posting and future expectations they will have for you. In other cases, you may be talking to potential peers who do similar or partnered work to the position you are interested in. Sometimes, these groups are even mixed, which can make it difficult to connect properly with either group.
So how do you navigate these different types of interviewers? What questions do you save for each group? How do you connect when you are all in a room together? We have the answers to these questions and more right here!
Whether you are applying for managerial or entry-level roles, it is inevitable that you will eventually be interviewing with leadership personnel during the process. So how do you identify leadership personnel?
Preparations and introductions will go a long way here. Before attending the interview, coordinate with your recruiter to get the names or positions of the people interviewing you. You do not have to connect with them, but looking up their profiles on business social media like Linkedin is a great way to familiarize yourself with their faces. Doing so will allow you to focus on what is being said in an introduction instead of trying to match faces to names.
During the interview, focus on how people are being introduced. Is everyone introducing themselves? Then it is likely that these people are peers amongst themselves, so you have an equal chance of reporting directly to any of them. Is one person introducing everyone? That person is likely the highest in ranking, but may not be your direct superior. Either way, it is important to have a general idea of what each person does in relation to your possible position so you may tailor answers to best fit what they are looking for.
Before we discuss the types of questions to ask leadership, let’s talk about how to ask and answer questions. Expectations are often based on the personnel in the room, so if you are speaking to leadership, there is an often unspoken belief that you should speak with longevity. This means that you should speak as though you already have the role and that you would like to know what awaits you in the long term with this group.This gives the impression that you have already committed and planned for a career with the company, so leadership is likely to respond with matching ideals.
In terms of questions, leadership often wants to confirm knowledge and skills to a more general extent and ensure that you, as an investment of their time and money, will pay off. Answer their questions honestly and with personality, but stay focused on the topic. Depending on the distance between the leadership team and your position, licenses and confirmable proof of skill might mean more than technical speak, so be prepared with certification, rewards, commendations, and other licensure in addition to stories and examples of previous work.
Peers are often easier to identify, but you should keep in mind that a peer is someone who will be working with you in the same or a partnered department, not simply just someone at your skill level. This distinction becomes incredibly important when figuring out how to ask or answer questions.
In a peer interview, the setting might still be formal, but the goals often show up a bit more quickly than those in leadership interviews. Peers might touch on longevity and the whys of applying to this opportunity, but their true goal is to find out how you fit with the team. Whether the team is well-functioning or in absolute chaos does not matter. In either case, the representative of the team that you are speaking with is simply looking to see if your personality can mesh with the team in a productive way and if you can bring in new skills to help the team grow.
In this case, both what you answer and how you answer are incredibly important. Personality means as much to team cohesion as any amount of experience, so, while they may be your peers, treat them with the same respect that you would give to a superior. That being said, you still need to find space to be yourself. It may seem contradictory to say both of these things here, but it is entirely possible to represent your personality without being unprofessional.
It is easy to get nervous and decide to go through an interview with a polite smile and a professional poker face, but that is not what is needed. The reason we emphasize personality so much is because that is a factor as to why they are hiring you. If they love your personality in the interview but you act differently on your first day, they might be disappointed and that could lead to an uncomfortable working environment. Additionally, if they hired you because your personality was a match but your skills were lacking, showing that the personality they loved was fake could be a one-way ticket out.
Questions in peer interviews are where you can be incredibly technical. If you are speaking with people from the same or partnering departments, you can use jargon and technical terms to properly describe the work you do or have done. You should not flood the conversation with it, but these are people who understand your work and are looking to see how you fit in their team, so showing off your skills is absolutely necessary.
When these two groups come together or when interviews have a multitude of people, we often call them Panel Interviews. If you are interested in learning how to face these types of interviews specifically, then check out our guide here.
Whether it is a panel interview or not, the tips you have read here can be easily applied to just about any type of interview. Keep them in mind for your next one and fall back to these core ideas if you ever draw a blank or feel overwhelmed throughout the process.
If you are interested in having help in your job-hunt, then connect with one of our recruiters today! Apply to one of our open opportunities here or send us in an updated resume here. Either way, we’ll connect you with a specialized recruiter who will help you every step of the way, from search to start.