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Interviews Are a 2-Way Street: How to Make the Most of Them for Mutual Success

Whether you're a hiring manager or an interviewee, here's what you should be looking for during an interview to ensure a good fit for both parties.

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Building a successful team is a tricky exercise. When it comes to hiring, you shouldn’t feel pressured to stick to one boxed solution. People are complex and multi-faceted, and they come with varying competencies. Hiring processes should be open to the different strengths people can bring. 

Interviews are a chance for employers to get to know candidates and vice versa — and finding chemistry is vital here. Strong relationships create synergy at work and allow people to collaborate in teams to propel the organization forward. So, it’s essential to remember that interviews are a two-way street. Just as it’s important for employers to see whether candidates are a match for them, it’s equally necessary for applicants to see whether employers and companies are in alignment with their needs and goals.

Related: Why I Don't Hire People Who Do Their Job

What should interviewers look for?

While interviewing candidates, be open to the fact that what you’re looking for might change. While many hiring managers typically look at job descriptions to guide their search, roles and positions can evolve over time.

It’s good to ask standard questions about a candidate’s skills and experience, but this should just be a starting point. Don’t limit yourself to general questions. Consider what you really want to know about this person. The questions you ask should allow you to glean whether or not the applicant can grow into the role, change it and evolve along with it. 

Remember that everyone has a mind-body type. In my workshops, we go through exercises meant to break down your leadership skills based on your mind-body constitution. This is similar to what you should look for in your job candidates. 

For instance, if someone has a creative leadership style, that means he or she is good at getting the job done using new, innovative methods. Once you identify leadership traits in your candidate, you can think of how to best support that person once he or she is onboarded and how to build a strong team around him or her.

Four questions to consider when leading an interview

When I’m conducting interviews, there are four things I ask myself:

  1. How will this person grow? Roles and responsibilities often evolve as a company changes. It’s important to have an employee who is willing to grow along with it.

  2. How will they change their role and grow the company? Employees should embody a growth mindset and be a part of a company’s journey toward improvement.  

  3. Which role are they most suited for? Oftentimes, people apply for one role but are actually a better fit for another position. Consider whether this job is right for them or whether there is another place in the organization better suited for their skills.

  4. Who else do I need to hire alongside this person to build out a set of people who will work well with each other and create chemistry in the workplace? When hiring, you have the ability to create teams that work well together. Keep in mind who else you could hire alongside your candidates.

Related: Ace Your Interviews: Four Ways to Be A Better Job Candidate

What should interviewees look for?

If you’re a job seeker who is offered a role, you might be quick to accept simply because you need the salary or paycheck. It can be hard to say no because your first priority is likely keeping a roof over your head. However, without doing the due diligence, you may find yourself in a position where you’re working for a company that doesn’t align with your vision.

I once accepted a position working for a growth-stage startup. Throughout the interview process, everything seemed right. When I started working, I enjoyed the role and the company, but with each week that passed, I found it more difficult to do my job. 

It wasn’t that my responsibilities were getting harder. I just didn’t agree with the way the organization was being built out. I found myself in meetings trying to pitch our company to outside investors. It was challenging because I was selling a proposition that I couldn’t see. Once I realized this, I left the company because I saw this wasn’t what I wanted to do. 

Questions interviewees should ask themselves

When you’re getting to know a potential employer, you should see whether his or her business, vision and values match yours. A company should have a clear trajectory with room for growth. Ask yourself the following questions during the interview process:

  1. Is this company looking for someone to grow with it or just perform a role? To avoid stagnancy, employees need to grow and develop. An employer should give you ways to do this and challenge yourself. Are there opportunities for you to use your leadership skills and help steer the organization?

  2. How will this company pivot in the future? Look to see where the company is heading in the future. Consider whether this is a journey you want to be a part of. 

  3. Do I align with their mission and values? An employer’s mission and values give you direction in your work. These values should be clear and give you a sense of the company’s motivations and principles.

Related: 5 Things Job Seekers Do That Sabotage Their Interview Chances

It’s all about chemistry

Interviews are an opportunity for both parties to get to know each other. It’s not a one-way conversation. Employers need to get to know their candidates and vice versa because chemistry within teams has a huge influence on how well people perform and whether their goals and intentions are in sync. Without this chemistry among its employees, a business can never hope to reach its full potential and achieve success. 

Reenita Malhotra Hora

Written By

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Reenita Malhotra Hora is the CEO of Chapter by Episode Productions. She has years of experience growing organizations from startups to medium-sized businesses through storytelling, creative marketing and business strategy. Hora has also written seven books.