It can be difficult to pin exactly down what interviewers are looking for from a job candidate.
There are heaps of interview advice articles floating around online, often giving detailed advice on how to sell yourself. In the past, reading these articles has made me feel like a robot who’s being judged on how well they can synthesize a bunch of tips and tricks by another robot.
But the truth is, your interviewer’s human impression of you goes a long way. Unless you make a true faux pax or really can’t get your value add across — and those are mistakes you can avoid by reading detailed advice online — it’s the first impression that matters the most.
That’s why I loved the criteria Samantha Moss, Editor & Content Ambassador at Romantific, sets for the candidates she interviews. For Moss, it’s not about how quickly a job candidate can make a case for themselves or how much they know it all. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
“As someone in charge of hiring in our company, the one thing I look for in interviews is how an applicant pauses before answering a question,” Moss shared with Fairygodboss.
Moss says this gives her a strong impression of someone’s interest in the role.
“This reveals how deep in thought the applicant is and if they are really serious about getting the position. An applicant who isn’t really interested in the position would not pause to think too much; rather, they would rush to answer. On the other hand, when an applicant really really likes the position, they would pause and you can see on their faces that they are really thinking about what they’ll tell you so that they can give you the best possible answer.”
Moss would probably advise you to take the time to really parse out what your interviewer wants and answer their questions thoughtfully instead of using a script or bursting out in statistics from your resume. In other words, it’s OK to not have it all figured out before you take the dive.
A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.