A shadow interview is a fantastic opportunity for potential employees to receive a first-hand account of the position they are applying for. This interview method consists of the candidate following an employee for either an hour or an entire day. While not a traditional interview method shadowing does offer its unique insights and opportunities for both employer and candidate.
The main purpose of a shadow interview is to examine how well the candidate takes to the position. While not involved directly with any actual work the candidate will be evaluated on how well he or she understands the day to day duties involved in the position as well as the quality of questions asked and what type of comments are made.
As the name implies should you shadow someone you will follow that person throughout the day. You will be able to listen in during phone calls, watch how the paper work is dealt with and filed, learn how to enter data, along with all other common job functions. This will give you a good idea of what to expect should you be offered the job and whether or not it is a position that actually interests you. Pay close attention to how managements treat the staff and how the staff treats one another.
As you shadow you will want to keep a few tips in mind;
- Be courteous
- Be polite
- Be respectful
- Pay attention
- Make sure to ask questions
- Make observations
- Show interest in even the most mundane of daily tasks
You will also want to make sure that you do not let your ego or pride get in your way during your shadow interview. There is a tendency among many people to assume that they know what is going on even if that is not the case.
You may have experience in the field you are applying to but what you used to may not be applicable for a different company. Policies and procedures differ wildly from company to company. Do not just gloss over the day assuming that you have enough skill and qualifications for the job. Management might be more interested in a team player rather than an expert in the field.
How to Prepare for the Shadow Interview
Chances are good that you will receive advanced notice of a shadow interview. After all, if you are going to shadow an employee it might last for that entire work day. With the advanced notice you will be able to properly prepare for the day. You should develop a list of basic questions to ask throughout the day as well as additional questions along the way.
Examples of some basic questions to as the employee you are shadowing are;
- How long have you worked here?
- Are you happy?
- How do you feel about management?
- Are there opportunities for advancement?
- Do you find the work challenging and rewarding?
Do not just stick to these basic questions. Make sure you ask more detailed ones as the day progresses. If you are unfamiliar with the computer systems in use comment on it and ask questions. Management and those in charge of hiring will be looking for someone that demonstrates an interest in the position.
Arrive to the company dressed as if it was an actual work day. While you may not yet be officially hired chances are high that management is interested in you why else would they ask you to take part in the shadow interview and shadow someone?
You are going to want to demonstrate your ability to achieve a professional demeanor and attitude throughout a normal work day. This means that even if you feel a little frustrated or discouraged during the shadow interview you will want to continue with a positive attitude. You are not expected to understand everything already and in fact one of the points of shadowing an employee is to give you a better understanding of the position and the daily functions of that position.
Adapted From The Everything Job Interview Book, 2nd Edition by Joy Darlington and Nancy Schuman, Copyright © 2008, 2001 by F W Media, Inc., published by Adams Media, a division of F W Media, Inc. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.