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  • Writer's pictureIsaac Sobel

5 quick tips to level the playing field in job interviews

Interviews are intimidating because of information asymmetry.

An interviewer has a good sense of what type of candidate their company is looking to hire--but the candidate is in the dark.

Here are some tips to level the playing field in interviews, by reducing information asymmetry:

  1. Pre-interview research

  2. Do a google/LinkedIn Search on the company and job opening. Find out who the hiring manager is; learn everything there is to know online about said hiring manager.

  3. Work the recruiter - recruiters have a very powerful incentive to fill a job opening. They want candidates to come across their best. Ask the recruiter what it would take to land the role in question. You can also ask what types of questions to expect in an interview.

  4. Get the interviewer talking and be a good listener

  5. Everyone likes to hear themselves talk. Interviewers who do a lot of the talking often walk away from an interview feeling great about the interview.

  6. Ask questions early

  7. It is common that candidates are given an opportunity at the end of an interview to ask questions. Don't wait until the end of the interview to ask questions. By the end, it is too late to learn critical information about the job opening that can be used throughout the interview.

  8. If you are feeling bold, you might try to ask an interviewer early on what are the must-haves for this position.

  9. If interviewer poses a question, always answer directly first--but then feel free to follow up with a question to understand what the interviewer was looking to hear. This can give you a chance at redemption if your initial answer was way off base.

  10. Ask for interviewer to clarify or elaborate on their question

  11. Good interviewers ask open-ended questions to avoid tipping their hand. If you are not sure what an interviewer is looking to get at with a question, ask for clarification. The interviewer might just drop the tidbit of info that you need to hear to formulate a solid response.

  12. Only answer the question that was asked

  13. Sometimes it's hard to tell what an interviewer is looking to glean from a question. So, keep your answer short and sweet. Better questions will come along.

BONUS: if an interviewer asks what salary you are looking to make, dodge, dodge, dodge. The anchoring effect only works in a vacuum. In contrast, most employers know exactly what their budget a the position is. FYI, it is now NYC law that employers are not allowed to ask salary history.

BONUS BONUS: if an interviewer asks where you see yourself in five years, they are typically looking to gauge whether you will commit to this job. The answer should be something along the lines of "I'm just looking to roll up my sleeves, do good work and hopefully be recognized by the company for my efforts."

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