Why do so many people hate politics?
Is it the performance? Is it the candidates? Is it the awful and mildly uncreative advertisements? Actually, it’s the double-speak. The fact of the matter is that, today, the general public equates political double-speak with definite equivocation.
A party with something to hide. A candidate who will renege on their promises.
But the distance between what someone says and what they actually mean is not reserved for the political stage exclusively. In fact, we experience dissonance in our own words every moment that we interact with each other.
The clincher? While on a public stage, the optics of this obvious gap is less than savoury, in private spheres, such as the interview room, it is a matter of professionalism and equality.
Hiring managers, true to HR best practices, work overtime to ensure that any personal bias does not enter their words and phrases to ensure that candidates don’t feel they have an advantage over all others applying for a job position.
More seasoned candidates will always be able to read between the lines, so to speak, in order to gain a sense of where they stand. This is not only due to experience but also because of their understanding of a professional ethic.
And for those who don’t, we’ve gathered 5 common turns of phrase that the interviewer isn’t telling you that, once decoded, may actually help you win that position — or move on to something better.
“We always hire the best people for the job.”
Here, the interviewer isn’t telling you something you don’t want to hear, right? This statement is clear and a credit to the company if they actually maintain this policy, right?
Let’s break down that “maybe”, shall we?
On the one hand, it seems to say that merit reigns supreme. This is a good thing because it seems to promise that your experience and skills, your effectiveness and proven track record are one of the only things that will enter your candidacy’s success.
But when merit reigns supreme, does it outrank loyalty?
The other side to this statement can be read as a commitment — not to you. When jobs open up, the company could be dedicated to shopping around for external candidates, rather than promoting and hiring from within first.
Superstars are great — but the right candidate is more than just a set of skills. He or she will also demonstrate a “fit” or affinity to the company’s culture. If a senior position opens up, you want to know that you’ll be considered first, since you’re already present at the company.
So when you hear this, think twice. And have no hesitation in shopping around because they certainly are and will be. Loyalty goes both ways.
“We’ll be in touch.”
This one is by far the most common — and the most easiest for overly-anxious job hunters to overanalyze. It’s like the old “I’ll call you” at the end of a date. Why? Because there’s no specificity. It’s the clear fallback response, couched perfectly by vagueness.
So, yes, this very probably means, “We’re really not going to be in touch.” But — yes, there’s hope — this could also very well be a way to hold all candidates to mystery. The hiring committee or manager may simply be putting out this statement to all, routinely.
So instead of giving you the useless advice of, “He’s just not that into you”, here’s a refreshing hack: you can pivot and take matters into your own hand to gain some clarity.
At this point, you can ask the manager to clarify a timeframe. “When can I expect to hear by?” and “Will all candidates be informed of your decision?” are worthy ways to look for a commitment. If it’s not coming, however, then you have a clear sense for sure.
”Yes, the position is open but we’re just ironing out some kinks.”
Take this one with a grain of salt — and perhaps a flag of caution.
“Ironing out some kinks” could mean that they position is non-traditional, challenging and has been created out of a need — that is to say, out of a couple of months of the company experiencing the same pain points over and over again, until they finally decided to hire a qualified individual to deal with it.
This can be great. The role is open and dynamic. It will be up for review and closely monitored (and supported, even) to ensure it’s responding to the needs of the company.
This is what a candidate might hear. A more seasoned manager who’s well aware of the process of creating a position might be more savvy.
What the interviewer isn’t telling you here is that the position may not be firmed up or may experience a significant amount of change. It could be that a department is being cut and the subsequent tasks are being offloaded onto this position. Or it could be that funding is still in process or not guaranteed and secured for the position to be considered a sure thing.
“Feel free to email me with any questions.”
This is not necessarily a statement that is open to a lot of interpretation but a surprising number of people end up abusing the invitation anyway.
Furthermore, they fail to realize that for hiring managers, this is not their first go at the carnival, so to speak. Interviewers have a sense of when candidates actually have questions relevant to a follow-up or those requiring clarification and which are made solely to keep communication on-going or to have a reason for “checking in” (and, more often than not, politely ask about whether the position has been filled).
So, to navigate the meaning behind this statement, we say to you, “With great power comes great responsibility”. Wield the invite wisely. If there is a genuine need to clarify, inform of or ask about, fire off an email. Singular. If you don’t receive a response don’t take it personally and don’t pepper her with another few.
“Your supervisor can be tough to get along with.”
Ideally, the interview process is not simply a “test” of your candidacy. It’s an opportunity for you to likewise vet the company that you hope to work for someday. Especially if the position is of interest to you and you feel you would be a shoe-in for the position, your ears should perk up at tidbits like these.
Sometimes, hiring managers will drop these knowledge nuggets to preface a question or see how you react. But, regardless of whether it is inadvertent or intentional, when faced with information in your decision-making process, be sure to tuck it away. You’ll have to ask yourself if this sort of relationship is one you’d like to test.
And, remember: you’re perfectly within your rights as a candidate to ask for more information or for examples. Is this “difficulty” situational or is it an aspect of their management style?
“The job is yours already.”
Some professors like to tell their students the following: “You’re currently sitting at 100%. In order to keep your mark at that level, here’s what you need to do (and not do).”
In the same way, we advise you to take on this perspective when it comes to your interview. Walk in with the attitude that the job is yours already — this is precisely why the hiring committee wanted to meet with you. On paper, you’re the perfect candidate. They have progressed to the interview stage because they want to give you the job.
So your job is? Hear what is being asked, what is truly meant and don’t do anything to change their minds.
Sarah Merekar is primarily a storyteller who loves to work with and in several different mediums, on various platforms and see how these co-exist and complement each other. She loves hacking product sales and understanding how content creation has an effect on this process. The content she creates for clients is high quality, highly tailored, and on brand, specifically in the form of digital & brand copywriting, design and video.