To start with, let’s make sure we understand each other: the interview is not about you but is about the interviewer’s needs and how you can satisfy those needs. So, now that we’re on the same page, let me ask you a question: Have you been to an interview that starts with the interviewer telling you what’s important in the interviewer’s decision-making process? Of course not–because the interviewer wants to hear from you and does not want to reveal to you what’s on his mind.
As an experienced hiring manager, I can tell you some of the secrets. One of them is what I call the 20-60-20 rule: Based on your answers, the interviewer will assess your candidacy in three areas: 20 percent based on your skills, 60 percent based on whether you’re seen as a good fit into the organization, and 20% based on testing of your true commitment.
Only 20 percent on skills, you ask? Yes, since by facing the interviewer, you’ve already been prescreened. No interviewer would bring you in knowing to start with that you do not have the required skills. The lion’s share–that 60%–of the interview is about fit. Fit means that the interviewer would enjoy your company at lunch, that those you’d work with would consider you a great addition to the team, and that the hiring manager’s boss would comment favorably about the interviewer’s decision to hire you. The last 20 percent component is about your commitment wherein the interviewer tries to make sure you’re interviewing in earnest, not just for practice. The interviewer wants to make sure you deliberately singled out the company; that you’re extremely motivated, energetic, and upbeat about the possibility of joining the team; and that given that bad times are ahead, you won’t move on just because somebody might offer you a slightly higher salary.
If you agree with my thesis here, then you should review all the answers you prepared ahead of time for your interview and reclassify each and every answer with regard to whether it has to do with skills, fit, or commitment. Since the fit factor is so important, you’d be well served by trying to find some commonality that you share with the interviewer. It’s well-known that people hire others with whom they have something in common.
by Alex Freund