I’ve interviewed a lot of job candidates in my time. And I have been interviewed many times myself. (And don’t I wish I could do those again!)
You’ll find scads of advice about this – but here is my two cents du jour. Know who you are and know your stuff. Be authentically yourself and don’t try too hard to be what they want you to be. Remember this is not just about winning the interview – it’s about the next few years of your life. You will have to live with these people you are now meeting across their desks.
As an interviewer I always wanted the candidates to talk about their work. Mostly I was talking to people with portfolios of creative work – sample reels, sizzle reels that sort of thing. So I made them tell me how each project went down. I got granular. Who did what? What was their particular contribution or insight? What worked and what didn’t? Are they are pleased with it and what do they see now that they didn’t see then? What didn’t come out quite the way it was intended and why not?
This is stuff that they had thought over and lived and suffered and triumphed and they knew it. So we really got down to cases and I could learn so much. What was important – was it the result or the process? Did it seem they were inclined to blame others rather than accept responsibility themselves? Did they seem to learn from the challenges they had faced? Wow this really did tell me pretty much everything I wanted to know about them. It was revelatory about what mattered to them and what were their standards. It took me so much further than the standard interview questions, the ones they were expecting, would have got me.
If you are meeting the HR recruiter type person then they can’t be expected to know the ins and outs of the particular task – so they can be forgiven (on the whole) for asking the predictable questions. But when you get down to the people you will be working with then you should view that as a sample of working with them – being interested in the challenges and flexing your brain to come up with solutions or approaches and helping them to move forwards. When they come away from the meeting with you and have some new ideas and impetus they didn’t have before – that will count to your benefit.