Three key question areas to help you read your interviewer

Published on: 20 Oct 2014


Image © Tchernov

In any interview situation, including those for veterinary roles, you will be eager to make the best possible impression.

There’s an old saying: “To walk in someone else’s shoes, first take off your own”. This is valuable advice; if you can understand your interviewer as they are – in terms of personality and behaviour – then you can tailor your answers and other contributions to match the impression they want to receive.

Here are three questions to consider...

Is your interviewer more task or people focused?

A typical interview starting point can be to ask how your journey was. As you answer, watch to see if there is genuine interest in your response or whether it is simply a device to move on into the interview as quickly as possible.

Spotting this early in your conversation can help ensure you don’t frustrate your interviewer by adding personal stories when they don’t want to hear them, or by being overly businesslike when they are trying to understand you as a person.

Is your interviewer more into results or details?

This can be judged both by the questions they ask – “What sales success did you achieve on that project?” compared to “What steps did you take to ensure you achieved the results you wanted?” – and the patience the interviewer shows as you answer.

Focusing your answers towards their preferred style helps gain empathy.

Does your interviewer communicate in words, images or feelings?

The clues are in the language they use. Examples:

  • “What did you say when this happened?”
  • “What did you see as the key problem?”
  • “How did you feel about that situation as it developed?”

The first of these uses “say” as a verbal indicator, the second “see” as a visual, while “feel” is more intuitive. If you can pick up on these, then you can respond in the same manner.

Of course, most people will be interested in both results and detail to some degree, so focus on both task and people to some level, and use all three communication indicators at some stage.

However, if you can identify the interviewer's preferences in each of these areas, and focus your contribution accordingly, then you are giving yourself a slightly better chance of succeeding.

It’s equally true that these tips apply to all of life’s conversations, not just a job interview!