Have you ever been stuck in an airport waiting for a delayed flight and there’s someone nearby who won’t stop complaining about the delay. You try and tune them out – really what can be done about terrible weather? But even with headphones on you can still hear them berating an airport employee.
Across from you, another passenger with headphones on catches your eye. They point their eyes to the annoying complainer and then roll their eyes. You chuckle a bit. Soon the two of you are conversing about your destinations and families.
The airport test is determining whether the person across from you is someone you wouldn’t mind spending time with if you are stuck at the airport.
How an interview is like the airport test
In an article for Mashable Meredith Pepin writes that “in addition to candidates having the qualifications and technical skills to do the job, the manager asked herself after each interview: “Would I want to be stuck in an airport with this person?” The Airport Test may not be obvious throughout the interview. You may be asked to tell the interviewer about yourself, or what you bring to the table, but during the interview, the hiring manager is trying to assess whether you’re someone they could be stuck in an airport with.
Are you the complaining passenger, or the one who strikes up a conversation?
Passing the Airport Test
The truth is, sometimes no matter what you do, your personality may not be a right fit for what the hiring manager is looking for; but there are some things you can do to give yourself the best chance at passing the Airport test.
Don’t be Afraid to Get Personal
Outside of the “Tell us about yourself” question, you tend to focus 100% on your skills, accomplishments and past work experience. After all, these skills are usually the things that got you the job interview in the first place. While your skills are important, don’t be afraid to share personal details as well. If you find an answer could give way to a short personal story, share it. You want to show that not only are you qualified, but also personable and interesting.
Personal, but Professional
If the hiring manager asks you what you did on the weekend, and on Friday night you were at a party, leave that out. Maybe you saw a new movie that came out, or went to a museum; even something as small as reading an article you found interesting are great things to share. They demonstrate your interests while remaining acceptable in a professional setting.
At the end of the interview, you’ll almost always be invited to ask your own questions. This is a great time to ask more about the company and the role you’re applying for. It’s also a great opportunity for you to bend the conversation to be a bit more personal. Asking the interviewer what they enjoy most about working for the company shows your interest in the company, but also gives you a chance to hear their feelings. You can assess whether or not you’d be okay being stuck in an airport with them!