Job Interviewers Come in Four Basic Flavors

Family Matters

I am getting ready to go on some interviews, hoping to advance in my career. What advice do you have for going in to a job interview?

The goal of every first interview is to do so well that you'll be invited back for a second interview. You want to be prepared, professional, honest and enthusiastic. Your preparation should include taking some time to think about how you'll interact with the interviewer once you get a feel for his or her personality type.

You can assume that each person who'll be sizing you up will be dominant in one of the four humors — or temperaments — identified by the ancient Greek thinkers Hippocrates and Galen. These are the choleric, sanguine, melancholic and phlegmatic temperaments.

You're bound to meet up with at least one choleric. An ambitious bigshot, the choleric believes his role is the most mission-critical in the company and likes to talk in terms of big ideas. You'll do well to convey to him that you will work very hard to help him realize his dreams. And, in the initial interview at least, you do not want to ask him how long a lunch break you get to take. You're not here for your comfort; you're here for his goals. Make sure to research the company's mission statement prior to arriving in his office, and be willing to show that you aren't afraid to sacrifice niceties in order to get the job done.

You'll know a sanguine by his love of the company, his enthusiasm for its mission and his affability in the work environment. What he wants to know, first and foremost, is: How well would you fit into the corporate culture and how energetically could you contribute? Are you fun to work with or merely duty-bound? Would you be excited about coming to work here each day? Try to leave this person with the impression that, if you're hired, there will be even more joy and success than there already is.

Inevitably you'll run into a melancholic at some point in the interviewing process. Melancholics worry about integrity and the bottom line. In fact, they worry about everything, because they're fastidious to a fault. When they meet you, they wonder if you will uphold the ethical integrity of the business. They never hire people who won't follow policies and procedures to the letter. Convince them that you are a professional who takes his responsibilities seriously and you should do just fine.

Finally, watch out for the phlegmatic. This individual may appear easygoing while secretly judging you harshly. She doesn't like conflict or confrontation, so she's on the lookout for a contrary streak in you. She won't hire you if you come off as readily argumentative. It's harmony and cooperation she's most interested in, so stress your willingness to play for the team rather than yourself. Let her know that she'll never have to get in your face to motivate you.

Remember these easy pointers and, provided you've got the necessary technical qualifications, you'll give yourself an excellent chance to show what you can do.

Art Bennett is director of Alpha Omega Clinic and Consultation Services in Bethesda, Maryland.

The Earth is Not Our Mother

“The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister. We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire, but not to imitate.”—G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy