4 Ways Your Interviewer Is Not Your Friend


I’m going to tell you something that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Ready? Okay…

Your interviewer is not your friend.

Interviewers want to like you, and you want them to like you. You’re supposed to be on your best behavior, but also to be friendly, outgoing, talkative, and engaging. Yet there’s a big difference between being friendly with the interviewer, and treating the interviewer as if she is your friend. But you already knew that, right?

So why do so many job candidates seem to make this mistake? Interviewers complain that, time and time again, job candidates make the critical error of behaving as if the interviewer is a trusted old friend rather than treating the interview as part of the formal hiring process. This isn’t just annoying to the interviewer; it can also end your chances of advancing to the next stage of hiring. Here are four critical differences to keep in mind to help keep you from drifting too far.

1. This is not a two-way street. Your interviewer doesn’t care about you. He cares only about himself and his employer. When he asks you about yourself and your goals and your interests, what he really wants to know how well you’re going to fill the employer’s need and whether he wants to work with you. Keep that in mind as you answer his questions.

2. You don’t owe the whole truth. Honesty is a good thing. I would never recommend that a job candidate lie or otherwise be dishonest. However, just because you should be truthful, doesn’t mean that you should offer up the whole dirty truth in every circumstance. There’s almost always a positive way to explain even bad circumstances. Think about how different it sounds to an interviewer if a job candidate says, “I left my previous job because my boss was a micromanaging jerk who never gave me a moment’s peace and I so wanted to key his Lexus,” compared to, “I’m interested in working at your company because of the opportunities to work independently.”

3. Familiarity is not appropriate. Again, be on your best behavior. Casual behavior like putting your feet up on a table and speaking in slang are no-nos. Both your verbal language and your body language should reflect your respect for the interviewer and your understanding the workplace. Don’t take it upon yourself to call your interviewer by his first name or, worse, a nickname, Address everyone as “Mr.” or “Ms.” unless you’re explicitly invited to do otherwise.

4. Nothing you say is confidential. Finally, remember that there’s no such thing as “off the record” or “just between us” when it comes to the job interview. Anything and everything you tell the interviewer may end up in your file at the employer.