Must-know trends and interview tips for 2020 and beyond

Must-know trends and interview tips for 2020 and beyond

“In 5 years from now, I want to be in your seat”…
Are you a modern candidate? … It’s time to reflect.

Just like in any other industry, trends in hiring are changing too.

Would a “great candidate” from, say 2007, be deemed a “great candidate” today, based on their interview performance? Are recruiters giving candidates the same sort of advice and prep they were 10 years ago?

Here is my take on how perceptions of what “great” looks like are changing, and what you should be aware of when preparing for interviews in 2020 and beyond.

Vulnerability – I am not talking about job requirements here, basic or preferred, but admitting to not being perfect in every way seems much more natural than it used to (i.e. not “having it all”). It’s like with the weakness question – it almost feels like while some 10 – 15 years ago the trend was to say you were close to perfect, now it seems more acceptable (what a relief!) to show up as simply human. We all have weaknesses/gaps/ professional imperfections. We always had them. In my experience, there is much more attention being paid now to how self-aware you are, and demonstrating how you address those gaps. This shows growth mindset – another increasingly popular concept in business/interviewing. I first heard about this term some 3 years ago.

Growth mindset” (versus fixed mindset) as per Professor of Psychology, Carol Dweck. Take a peek at this helpful article explaining the concept.
On more than one occasion, Hiring Managers, in recent years, would get back to me saying how impressed they were with a candidate because they clearly demonstrated they had growth mindset. That gave the HM confidence that the person would be comfortable with change, would successfully adapt, take constructive feedback on board and seek to learn from it – improve. Now isn’t that the type of individual you want to hire, versus Ms/ Mr “know it all”.

Having a “purpose” / being “purpose-driven”. It has, or is, somewhat replacing the anticipated answer to “Where do you see yourself in 5 years from today?”. I vividly remember Managers being perfectly satisfied, or even impressed with a rather fixed answer here, the likes of “in 5 years from now I want to be a Senior Manager”, or the tongue-in-cheek “My career goal is to take your seat in the next 5 years – that is what success looks like to me”.
A way more modern approach to handling these types of questions now, is to demonstrate how you want to grow, in what direction you want to develop, what drives you and what values you stand for = what is your purpose.
Additionally, answers that incorporate a process (how you are planning to get there, what are you ready and committed to doing) further boost your credibility. You show your commitment and ambition supported by realistic steps.
Hiring Managers of today are more impressed with how passionate and ambitious you are than by what title you want to claim in 5 years’ time.

The importance of “people skills” has definitely come to the forefront, including (perhaps that is the most significant shift) more operational roles, were focus previously was less on interpersonal but definitely more on, well – technical, operational aspects of the job.
Top (tech) companies value and assess collaboration skills much more these days. Even for roles typically referred to as “back office” roles where you aren’t client-facing, you are still expected to build relationships cross-functionally, to bring value to the process. For that, you do need a solid “soft” skill-set. Your communication style, conflict resolution, problem-solving, interpersonal skills, are most definitely looked at. Don’t assume you will only be measured on the tactical aspects of the role, but do have a good think about you as a team player, collaborator. Have examples ready, and don’t forget about telling all those stories according to STAR/ CARL model…no pressure? 🙂

Talking about examples…
Anyone who interviewed in recent years will be familiar with the importance of competency/ behavioural style of interviewing, these are so popular today. It wasn’t always so… in fact, I remember very well entire interview cycles based almost entirely on “what would you do…” with one or two competency-based questions thrown in here or there.
Based on my personal observation, it’s pretty much the opposite today, where some hypothetical questions are being used to look at candidates’ analytical skills or thought process. Overall, most professionals within talent industry today seem to be in agreement that “past experience/ performance is the best predictor of future performance”, and interview candidates in line with this assumption. Have those examples handy.

Have you noticed how at interviews these days, ideally you not only need to tell your story but do it in a story-telling way too? I remember it being much more about facts “back then”.

This may sound totally over-the-top but on a practical level, think about why you remembered someone out of 5 people you met in a social context for the first time… could it be the story they told?
While an interview is a totally different story (here we go again) altogether, the concept to some degree is the same.
In most cases, you are unlikely to be one and only candidate interviewing for a given job. You could be one of 3, you could equally be one of 15. Qualifications aside (they naturally are a key factor), you want to be remembered as a candidate. Think of interesting work situations that incorporate your values, your skills, your behaviours. You will enjoy your interview more, you will build stronger rapport with the interviewer, you will leave a more memorable impression. Start with 1 – 2 stories if this concept is totally new to you (take your proudest accomplishment, for example) and you will only be encouraged to dig out some more…

It feels like this list could go on for the rest of 2020… things certainly are changing.

If this content resonates with you, if you have questions, suggestions, or are a like-minded individual who wants to connect, please do so on LinkedIn, or email me on, I welcome all interactions!

Stay well