This week, I wanted to talk a bit about the analysis of your interaction with prospective employers, and their response to you and your efforts to gain employment.  There is no hard-and-fast science at work here, though there are some very workable theories for the analysis and understanding of employer responses to your submissions.  However, unless you’re a really good mind reader, getting an exact read on what an employer is thinking may be near impossible.
As each individual’s job search is different from another’s, there are a huge number of variables at work in the hiring process, from both the employer’s perspective and from the job seeker’s.  Interviewers vary in style, and interviewees vary in their ability to sell themselves and answer questions appropriately. But there are some indicators that enable you to analyze why things may or may not have gone your way.
Keep in mind hat the employer is looking to hire someone, so it might as well be you. The sooner an appropriate candidate is selected the better for all concerned.  The employer would love to be convinced that you are the right applicant to fill their vacancy, so it’s your job to assure the interviewer that you are the candidate for that opening.
If an interview lasted less than half an hour, the employer in all likelihood was unengaged by the applicant.  If an employer is truly considering a candidate, they will want to know more about the individual and keep asking questions.  An interview from an engaged employer should last close to or exceed an hour.  If the candidate is the one asking most of the questions and the interview still lasts an hour, the employer is either being polite by allowing the reverse inquiry to continue, or her curiosity has been aroused and your questions are relevant and on point.  The applicant must still remember to ask some questions to demonstrate his/her commitment and interest in the position, but monopolizing the proceedings is usually not an effective approach.
What if an interviewer probes more deeply into information already provided by the applicant? Typically, it means the interviewer wants more details to strengthen their understanding of the applicant’s qualifications and the relevance of the job seeker’s skills and work history.  A candidate who hooks the interest of an interviewer has successfully leapt a major hurdle.
Another observation you can try to make is the body language of the interviewer.  If the interviewer is engaged in what you’re saying s/he will be paying close attention to what you’re saying, and be making good eye contact.  If the employer is too relaxed, slouching, seems distracted, takes phone calls, and is not showing you respect, this is not a good sign.  However this may have nothing to do with you, the applicant.  Maybe the interviewer isn’t motivated, not in the mood to conduct an interview, or has too many things on his plate to properly concentrate on your qualifications.
Some interviewers are very good at hiding their emotional responses to the candidates they interview.  This makes it harder to tell if they think you’re appropriate to fill a particular position or if they are just being friendly and positive.  Even if the employer verbally suggests that s/he will see you again, does not necessarily indicatie that you’ll be invited to a second interview or be hired.  And the reverse is also a true.  A less-than-friendly interviewer does not necessarily indicate that you won’t be hired. Regardless of the interviewer’s attitude, the candidate must concentrate on conveying how their skills meet the employer’s needs, be polite and professional, and keep their fingers crossed.
One sign that things didn’t go well can occur during the candidate’s departure from the interview.  When saying goodbye and shaking their hand, has the interviewer made a slight pulling gesture motioning you toward their door?  This usually indicates that the employer is feeling pressured and wants you to exit their space quickly.  A more positive indicator is after shaking their hand, the interviewer shows you their facility, makes a couple of introductions, then walks you out with a gracious smile.
Remember, every interview is a opportunity to hone your communication skills, a chance to practice answering questions succinctly and conveying the relevance of your skills and experience.  Ultimately, a job seeker who leaves an employer with a good feeling about the interview experience and themselves is a positive.  And to be able to make that kind of analysis about the experience strengthens your resolve and fortifies your efforts. Be honest with yourself about the experience, and try to understand all the details you observed, and learn from any mistakes you may have made.  That kind of analysis gets you that much closer to getting the job!  And in the final analysis, that’s what you want!
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