Now Interviewing : What Kind of Job Candidate Are You?

My wife and I recently had an interesting overlapping situation with our jobs. My company has been interviewing to fill a position, and my wife had to attend a career fair to represent her company. It probably isn’t surprising we had similar things to talk about, but what was surprising is that we both noticed that job candidates always seemed to fall into the same categories.

The category, which should probably be dreaded the most, is the “I just need a job” category. They really aren’t sure what you do, or what they are even doing there. Really, they are just looking for a way to get paid 9 to 5, and that is their only concern. The interview or conversation almost feels like a speed date. While there isn’t any hurry, it feels like the candidate is there to collect some basic info and is probably trying to weigh it apples to apples to other places they have interviewed or plan on talking to. Towards the end of the interview, they typically announce, “I think I can probably do that.” And, they probably can. But is the bare minimum all they would do?

The second category is the “dine and dash!” Admittedly, I was once in this category. These are typically (but not always) fresh graduates, who are smart and ready to work hard. What is wrong with these candidates? There is a concern that their “five year plan” may not exactly include your company. They are trying to build a skill set, which will give them greater career opportunities in the future. Hopefully, your company can provide those career opportunities, but we all know how the grass always seems greener on the other side. These people can provide years of meaningful contribution to your organization, but can they show enough long-term commitment if a big investment is made in them?

The last category is the “diamond in the rough.” The most rare of the candidates, they are the people you wouldn’t have normally considered for the job, but who surprised you with a set of skills and reasoning that could be retooled or polished up to fit well into your organization. Because you weren’t originally considering their skill set, you likely wanted to interview this person because their personality seemed like it could be a fit. The fact that they have skills that could also be used after a little orientation seems like the icing on the cake.

And lastly, regardless of what category you may find yourself, please keep in mind good manners. Treat your interviewer with respect. Come prepared with a desire to know more about the job, and some examples of how your last position might reflect your ability to do your new job. Wasting your interviewer’s time by not being prepared is not going to leave a good impression. And, follow up by thanking your interviewer for their time. Not only is this common courtesy, but it reminds them you exist and have a genuine interest in the job.