Listening to Your Gut to Determine Fit

This article is by Michelle Joseph, founder and owner of PeopleFoundry, which works with Chicago-based growth companies to find the best people businesses are looking for.

Interviewing is an excruciating experience. It’s like going on a first date; people are uncomfortable, a bit nervous, and most people say what they think the other person wants to hear. My advice is simple: Be yourself.

As the owner of a Chicago-based recruiting firm, PeopleFoundry, I address the needs of both employers and candidates everyday. I have worked on the agency side of recruitment as well as the corporate side, and I have felt the pains of hiring when sound practices are not implemented.

Time and time again, my experience has demonstrated that only when employers and job seekers are authentic, open, and honest that the best long-term hires happen.

If a career choice is made prematurely it harms both sides. Companies will lose countless dollars and valuable time when a bad hiring decision is made, not to mention the impact these circumstances have on morale within an organization. For the candidate, accepting a role that is not ultimately what they are looking for will hurt their chances of making a more strategic career move the next time around. These questionable short-term roles on a résumé communicate indecisiveness and throw up red flags to prospective employers.

Similarly, HR pros looking to grow their company will have the greatest hiring success when they lay out accurate expectations for the position and paint a realistic picture of the company’s culture. Involving hiring managers in the process will result in greater transparency, since no one knows the roles as well as they do.

When there are unknown aspects of a the role or company, as is frequently the case in the start-up community, there is no reason to pretend that you have all of the answers. Most people want to be able to make an impression and shape the future of how their organization is going to succeed.

The hiring process is frequently tiresome for businesses and almost universally angst-ridden for candidates. Full transparency from both sides will result in the highest success rate of hires, and ultimately, the healthy growth of a company.

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  • Dave

    How true this is. Too many people – on both sides of the interviewing table – take what is on offer because it’s the easy solution. But this never works out in the long run …….

    • connie

      How much honesty is allowed? I experienced a interviewer that right off the cuff was distant and cold. I knew right away she had no good intentions of allowing me to “shine”. The experience put me under a great deal of angst. However, I turned the conversation into a informational session because I really did the research on this company. Turns out, I did not get the job and I intuitively knew I was not getting a second call back. What do you in these situations? Report them so it doesn’t happen to another qualified candidate?

      • Ben

        I’m not an HR specialist, but as the above article states, just try to be yourself. If the hiring manager doesn’t seem interested from the get-go (for whatever reason), then you probably won’t want to work for him/her anyway. I wouldn’t report him/her, as there is no benefit to YOU by doing this. Besides, you may end up applying for a different position within the same company at some point in the future.

      • Steve Chambers

        It never turns out good for you to report the company.When I hire someone I ask questions that the person should know the answers to instead of just taking there word and resume say’s.I learned the hard way by hiring College Graduates along with other experienced applicants.I hired many to find out they couldn’t perform the duties they applied for.Every new hire is a 4 thousand or more investment.Many couldn’t handle culture change and the others couldn’t even do a efficiency report for there days work”Tac Times”As a Manager I understand even qualified new hires takes 6 months to learn where everything is and a full year before they could truly Supervise themselves completing task.When interviewing many people will try changing the conversation to see what I do with free time.This tells me they are avoiding and wasting my time.I myself do not like the kiss up’s or always at conflict with there co workers.I grease the wheels and terminate the kiss up’s that think they are not replaceable.Just swallow your pride and apply at other company’s.I have been turned down before it hurts our ego but we must go on.For your next interview make eye contact,keep your arms on the chairs arm rest and answer the questions but do not add things that are not asked.Males keep your legs closed and do not fidget with your clothes also avoid clearing your throat.Your appearance is the key.Look open don’t cross your arms are lean forward and never lean back crossing your legs.Females same thing except legs closed toward the left or right and arms on the arm chair and less make up.Interviewing Females dress pants get you closer to being hired and no high heels or low blouse along with no Jewelry except a wedding ring.Wedding rings show stability but if you are single put a ring on anyway and if your a single parent don’t bring that up company’s see you as being absent and you will not be as focused.Hope this helps.Last thing.If you have Tattoo’s cover them this goes for male and female.Most Managers and Higher up’s view tattoo’s as making bad decisions and reckless.Others view people with tats as drug addicts,convicts and thieves.Sorry but it’s the truth been there done that.

    • Joe

      I beleive the problem stems from both sides. Each has a need to fill and sometimes it is equally urgent for both. The prospective employee may be eyeing his or her dwindling funds against bills that may be stacking up while the employer or his representative has an urgent need to put a body in position to stem the piling up of work backlog as well as to give himself or herself the opportunity to move unto other chores he or she personally has to deal with. It is a tough call but as suggested in the article honesty is the best policy for the longer haul both sides.

    • Steve Chambers

      If you get through the interview and the Manager doesn’t take you on a tour after the interview the company has problems and you will be miserable there wishing you hadn’t jumped in.Even if you are miserable at a company keep your fingers out there looking for something better.My saying is why give a 2 week notice?Do you get a 2 week notice when terminated.I Manage Maintenance so any time a employee gives me a notice I ask for there keys,badges and take them to HR for termination.Maintenance men can do a lot of damage in 2 weeks to machines so I solve the issue on the get go.

  • Jack Karpeles

    While the bulk of this article is true, it is also true that there are employers that interview people solely for the purpose of keeping their diversity numbers passable to the government. I have experienced more than one employer in the legal field that kept me interviewing for over an hour, usually a good sign, only to tell me that they only hire graduates from a certain college, and the reason they interviewed me was to give me the experience of the interview, I am not kidding. How would you respond to this interviewer? When I was told they only hire graduates from ___. I terminated the interview and the interviewers had the nerve to try to tell me they weren’t done yet.

  • linda jack

    The job I am in now the man hired me because I was young and pretty. He say me looking at the job board and hired me. It was a hard and crappy job an I did not ask enough questions to see if it was a good fit. The job was a nightmare.

  • Laurie

    I don’t think the writer of this article understands the nature of some careers when she wrote “These questionable short-term roles on a résumé communicate indecisiveness and throw up red flags to prospective employers.” I am a technical writer and instructional designer in Florida and almost all of the jobs are project-based whether they are government contracts or in the private-sector. I did not plan my career to be this way, but working on 6-8 month contracts is not uncommon and I am not indecisiveness or job-hopping. This is the norm for these careers in Florida and elsewhere in the country. Even when you are a permanent employee of a company, you are subject to the threat of layoffs when your project is completed and new projects/money are not available. Again this was not the plan for my career and I do think companies need to realize what they are doing to us. I also think that HR pros need to educate themselves about the careers they are hiring for and not judge an applicant because he/she has had several jobs.

  • Jodi Moss

    Thank you for this article. I have been on countless interviews but rarely are those interviewers willing to provide feedback. Earlier this summer, I went on 3 interviews within 2 days. I thought they went well and I would have my choice of those positions. Well, that didn’t happen. I only had one person willing to offer me feedback and that was that, initially, I provided too much personal information. When asked, “Tell us about yourself”…you tend to start with I’m married, mother of …, etc. Apparently that is where I hung myself. The interviewer told me they figured I was nervous but that I presented and discussed my skills, etc, very well. That is something I am more aware of now and wish I had received more feedback from other interviewers.