As a standard practice, when I represent both hiring managers and candidates during an interview process, I always debrief both sides. Among the questions I ask of both sides, but predominantly the candidate, is one that seems to catch people off-guard and one they are not used to hearing and rarely consider.
I ask them, “Was there laughter?” Often this seems an odd question but rather one I have learned, during my long career, to be a key question. And okay, perhaps you were not giggling your way through the meeting but hopefully, there was some smiling and cordiality – the more the better. You see, there is more going on than just whether or not you, as a potential employee, are qualified for a job you seek. Are you qualified and suitable – and it goes both ways? Qualifications are a key factor in order to be considered but never discount the importance or how well you may or may not fit into their company culture and, even more important, the personal chemistry between you and your potential hiring manager. This is the aspect that will determine if you will have a satisfactory transition or if you will find yourself frustrated and looking for another job in a mere three to six months.
So if there wasn’t laughter, is that a deal killer or a bad omen? No, not necessarily. If then there wasn’t, what was it, how did you perceive the atmosphere? Because you know it’s not only about their impression of you that counts in this process – you’re also evaluating them -- or at least you should be. Perhaps you didn’t meet your potential boss in the first interview and you were screened by an HR staffer; but the question still has validity as a gauge.
No doubt you have to meet the minimum qualifications to be considered for any job you seek. But personal chemistry can count for a lot and is part of what helps to make a decision, a more informed decision, while you progress through the interview process and toward a potential offer. It’s what, at a minimum, can make a job bearable or perhaps even great, depending on the circumstances. Add this simple question, with all that it implies, to your post-interview self-evaluation checklist.