Pressure Of Being The Interviewer

Would you like a job where you got 67 resumes, had the time to only interview 7 once and 3 of those a second time, then had to pick the single best candidate and your job would depend on getting it right? Welcome to the life of the job interviewer.

A lot of people these days are quick to talk about the pressure a person is under when applying for work and going in for an interview. While it’s true of course that the applicant is under a certain amount of pressure, very few people talk about the person sitting across the table and the pressure they are under; for yes, the interviewer is under pressure too.

Now you might say that with all the pressure you yourself feel in an interview, the last thing you need is to be distracted thinking about the pressure he or she is feeling! Ah but pausing to think about their situation prior to going in for the interview can actually help you in yours.

First of all there is the overall pressure to pick THE one who is right for the position from all those who apply. You might think this not such a hard task since the people applying can be quickly sorted out as meeting the qualifications or not and then just choosing a winner from a group of winners. Not so. You see everybody is doing there best to LOOK and SOUND like the perfect candidate, so the interviewer is challenged to look beyond what they see and hear to find the right candidate. Hence all the questions they ask. It’s like trying to pick someone out of a police lineup on television  where the detectives always say, “Take your time Mrs. Smith. Make sure you pick the right person.”

To be honest, sometimes the interviewer has to look beyond looks. What I mean is a person may be extremely beautiful or handsome, come across as sweet and very kind, tempting the interviewer to almost want to give them the job so they can have them around. But this isn’t a ‘pick your date’ interview like you’d find in some speed dating service. Human nature being what it is though, looks do influence a person, and that’s why taking your time to look the part is so often given as good advice to applicants.

Good interviewers know that the people they are meeting are also on their best behaviour. Applicants may be biting their tongue and staying silent on some topics that once hired and past probation they will speak their mind on. They know some may have been coached and worse, some may have rehearsed their answers and won’t even answer truthfully but give answers someone has told them to give as the right ones.

So the interviewer is left to read body language in order to pick up on non-verbal cues. As the person answers a question, do they look off to the left and up or down suggesting that the words they are speaking right now are possibly not the entire truth or an outright lie? What about that bouncing left leg that is so distracting, it’s actually making it hard to concentrate on the answers the person is giving!

Feeling for an applicant makes is tough too. So suppose the person is obviously anxious and tells the interviewer that they perform poorly in interviews but that they are quite good at the job itself once hired. This may be well true, and the best of interviewers will do what they can, and say what they can, to put the person at ease to the extent they can in order to see the real person. While an anxious person might just want a chance to prove themselves, an interviewer can hardly hire someone and say to their own boss that they felt sorry for the person and gave them the job!

Why all the pressure on the interviewer at all? Simply put, if interviewers make poor choices themselves, their ability to hire the best talent comes into question and they could lose their own jobs in favour of another person. Understand then that not having all the time they’d like, they have to first select good people from all those resumes (who may or may not have stretched the truth or downright lied), then have to sit face-to-face with applicants and make hard choices.

Now this is all well and good but you’re the one without a job and so it’s hard sitting in your shoes feeling sorry for the person with the good-paying job across from you. So don’t feel sorry for them as much as feel empathy. I know of a few people who in an interview have actually said to the interviewer, “I understand you are under pressure to select the right candidate from all those who apply. So let me help you to come to a decision with confidence. Here’s why I’m the right candidate…”

Of course just reminding that interviewer that you know they are under pressure reminds them of it, and can have the impact of raising your own sense of power a little in the process. Bazinga! There’s a gem for you.

Some interviewers do round one on their own and bring in others for a second look when they’ve narrowed things down. The reason? “Help me make the final choice.” Get this far and you’re almost hired. Your focus should be to impress the new face across from you.





One thought on “Pressure Of Being The Interviewer

  1. One of the solutions is, of course, to hire a recruiter. And a good one. One who can manage expectations on both sides, filter resumes, qualify candidates and prepare them.
    Imagine the amount of time spent by execs who must stop their own work to go through this process. What else might they be doing? Something more productive no doubt. Recruiter fees may be negotiated and in the long run a successful candidate brought in “the easy way” will reap rewards.


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