Did you know there’s a question in every interviewer’s mind that they never ask? It’s true. And I’m here to tell you what it is, and how to answer it.
“Do I want to work with this person?”
That’s the million dollar question that they all want answered. But they don’t ask it, because it’s a question they have to answer for themselves. You can’t tell someone what they want or don’t want, but you can help them come to a conclusion that will get you a job offer.
Let’s start with why this is so important to interviewers.
We spend a lot of time with our colleagues. And we all know that there are some people we prefer to work with over others. So in making hiring decisions, managers want to get an idea of what it will be like to work with a candidate. And if 2 candidates are equally qualified, they will choose the one they think they will like working with the most.
Personality differences and preferences aside, there are specific things that will make someone want to work with you. (Or at the very least, assure them you aren’t difficult to work with.)
And your interview is the time to show them – don’t wait until you get hired to help them answer the unasked question.
So how do you convince someone that they want to work with you?
Here are 5 characteristics people look for in a colleague they want to work with and how you can demonstrate them in an interview.
Complaining and negativity are toxic in the workplace (and everywhere really). In your interviews, make sure that you show optimism when talking about the future and your future in the role you’re applying for.
Your enthusiasm and excitement about the opportunity will convey a positive attitude. Talking positively about previous jobs and colleagues (though certainly they were imperfect) helps them to understand how you will talk about them in the future.
Also make sure that when talking about negative events in the past, you do so with professionalism and avoid labeling or disparaging people or companies. Simply address the situation, your role in it, and what you learned and/or demonstrated in how you handled it.
A smile goes a long way here. It’s normal to be nervous, but try not to let it show in your facial expressions. Practice in a mirror or on video to have control over your expression, no matter how anxious you may be inside. (Side note: preparation is key in calming interview nerves.)
Be kind and friendly to everyone you meet. Oftentimes a secretary or receptionist will be asked their impression and experience with a candidate. This is to see not only how consistent your behavior is, but to see how you treat people who you may think don’t have a say in whether or not you get an offer.
Do you require a lot of hand holding, or can you work independently? Managers would rather hire someone who is low maintenance and knows how to work, than someone who needs a lot of direction and reminders to do the job required of them.
Including examples of independence and responsibility in your interview answers will help them know that you know how to work.
Share examples of when you helped colleagues and accomplished important goals to show you’re willing to do what it takes. Also, examples of challenges you’ve overcome (professionally or personally) will demonstrate you are willing to work hard even when difficult.
Honest and Trustworthy
The first way to show this is to simply be it. Be honest in the entire job search process and interview. And be aware of anything that may raise doubt or suspicion such as delays in responding to calls and emails, or short general answers to questions.
Nerves here can really work against you. Hesitation and stumbling over words in an interview could be perceived as an attempt to hide something. Prepare and practice so that you can be calm and confident in your interview.
Sharing details of your experiences and how you’ve demonstrated your skills makes you more believable and helps them really get to know who you are and that they can trust you.
Also, sharing about times you’ve held positions of responsibility or been trusted by a colleague or boss can instill confidence that you can be trusted.
The more employees a company has that care about the mission, the more they will contribute towards the collective success of the company.
Invested employees create success and accomplish more together than when employees are apathetic or selfish. Not to mention the positive team dynamic that exists when individuals are working towards the same goals.
Do you care about the mission and success of the company? If you do, tell them. Do your research and tell them specifically why you want to work there and show them you know and are aligned with the values of the company. Show them you’re a team player.
Be genuine in your interest and enthusiasm for the job. If you’re not actually interested in the position, they may pick up on that and you’ll be better off finding something that is the right fit for you.
Try to fit evidence of these characteristics into your answers when possible. You can also share any of this when they ask “Is there anything else you’d like me to know?”
Or you can work them into your questions to ask them by prefacing your questions with a statement.
For example, “I really love that your company values exceptional customer service and I’m excited about the opportunity to to help deliver that. What do you see as the main challenges to delivering that outcome?”
Another example, “I have a lot of experience working hard to solve problems in order to reach team goals. What is the highest priority goal your team is currently working towards?”
If nothing else, remember this unasked question as you interview. Do your best to show that you are a person who is pleasant to work with and won’t create new problems to be dealt with.