Interview Archetypes and Why They Are Useful to Consider

It really does help to know who you are meeting in a job interview. Without falling into the trap of making assumptions, having an idea about the person you’ll be faced with will let you anticipate their concerns in the context of a job interview. Archetypes will help you do this effectively.

Some time ago, I discovered the use of Archetypes in selling and have subsequently taught this concept to my coaching clients as we prepare for important job interviews. It has proved to be incredibly helpful in improving interview skills.

Definition: An Archetype is a typical example of a certain type of person as it relates to behaviour. Jung was one of the first thinkers in the field to offer the notion that the human psyche comprised three components. Others have taken this further and extended it to a number of roles that one individual may take on, such as: King, Warrior, Magician and Lover.

However, in preparing to navigate a job interview successfully, we are more interested in the professional ‘roles’ that the individuals you are likely to meet during the process will adopt, given their job, responsibilities and position in the firm’s hierarchy.

Here are the Archetypes as I have identified them:

  • The Chief. This is the most senior person involved in the interview process. They normally have the power of veto and they control both the headcount and budget. You may not even meet them during the hiring process.

  • The Report. This is the person who you will be reporting to directly. You are being hired to help the Report to achieve his/her business objectives. Clearly, they are highly motivated to get the right person for the job.

  • Peers. These are your future colleagues hwo will be roughly at the same level as you. They will have concerns based around competition and culture amongst others.

  • Subordinates. If you are being hired to run a team or department, these will be the people who will be reporting to you. The degree to which they are part of the hiring decision making process will vary and they may not even be asked for their opinion.

  • HR. In some organisations, HR professionals are a full and active member of the hiring team and will interview candidates. In other firms, their role in the process is more limited.

  • The Coach. This is not a coach in the conventional sense; it is someone who may be in the firm or working outside, but nonetheless has credibility with the hiring firm. For whatever reason, the Coach will exert his/her influence on your behalf and provide you with useful information.

As you prepare for your next interview, think through what the concerns of each of these Archetypes are likely to be asit relates to you as a candidate for the role. This will equip you with an insight that few of your competitors for the job are very unlikely to have considered.

Stephen Wright