The Job Interview: The Interviewer’s Content Agenda


The interviewer’s content agenda must be handled before your agenda.  In order to determine the best candidate for the position the interviewer needs to know:  Can you perform successfully the duties to be accomplished?  Do you demonstrate that you will be energized by this work and will bring energy to others?  Will you be a “fit” with our people?  It is important that you have a game plan to handle questions in each of these areas.

The interview, from the interviewer perspective, consists of getting to know you or rapport building, professional content (the skills and abilities to perform successfully), personal content (the personality and relationship skills to “fit” with our people), selling you on the company and closing the interview.  The typical interview is conducted by the interviewer asking questions and interacting with you.  This section deals with interview content from the interviewer’s perspective.

In the same way that an excellent negotiator should be able to represent either side, an outstanding candidate should understand what the interviewer is trying to accomplish and why.  Greater knowledge of each role prepares you for any eventuality and prevents surprises, the scourge of any candidate.  In addition, understanding the interviewer’s agenda helps you with one of your most important tasks:  helping the interviewer to accomplish his agenda.

The goals of the hiring process are to fill an open position with the best possible candidate and, in the long term, to raise the overall ability level of the staff.  The interviewer uses behavior based questions which ask you to describe situations similar to one’s you might face such as a time when you managed conflict or had to meet an almost impossible deadline.  The interviewer tries to uncover clues as to how you think in those situations. Questioning is a means to generate discussion about the candidate’s past successes and accomplishments which are the best predictor of future behavior.  Behavior based questions require you to ground your accomplishments in the surrounding environment which helps the interviewer understand the context.  

The great companies have discovered that the more interviews with different interviewers, within reason, the fairer and more professional the process.  That is why, even at the entry level, you can expect multiple interviews.

The core competencies that excellent companies seek in their new hires include:

While we talk about each of these areas independently, an interviewer will very likely weave back and forth as she questions you.  Each section describes the core competency that the interviewer will evaluate, and lists some possible questions you might be asked.


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