Monday, January 12, 2015

The Interview

For most job seekers the term interview causes increased anxiety at the mere thought of the word. I know -- I have been coaching and advising both job seekers and hiring managers for over 22 years and counting.
For most people, interviewing is not something we choose or like to do, but rather cope with whenever it’s time to make a career change, either by choice or necessity. As it is and has been until recently, most of us learn our interview skills by trial and error, so that by the time we reach the middle of our careers we have for the most part figured it out. But considering the job market trends, this is not something we can take so lightly anymore; we cannot as simply write off opportunities we flubbed and say, “Eh, I’ll get it right the next time.” I often suggest the good jobs we want are harder to come by and, in the current climate, you may get only one chance with fewer opportunities – those are decreasing odds, any way you look at it. Therefore, unless you are one of the very few who have companies and recruiters knocking down your door to get to you, you need to make the most of every opportunity. 
The people I do represent are well prepared for their interviews. Although I can’t advise or coach everyone, my blog is meant to help reach more people with advice than I could otherwise provide. I also assembled a handbook a couple years ago, with everything in it from the beginning to the end of the entire hiring process, along with other info about job hunting and even tips for resigning. Now, I know what you are thinking; here he goes trying to sell his book. I don’t really care if you acquire it or not, but the people I represent always do better in their interviews than they would without my help. If there is additional advice you can use, well, that’s up to you whether to take advantage, or not.
But let me provide to you something very simple that may be helpful. Words mean things, although increasingly the common use of some words differ from their actual meaning. For example: in the minds of many the term interview is synonymous with interrogation. It isn’t the same but try telling that to some people, who would rank the event up there with a visit to a bad dentist. 
In reality, an interview is just as much for your benefit as it is for the organization of which you want to be a part. The interview is not a one-sided question and answer session; you are not seated in a small and cramped, smoke-filled room under a bright light. When the time arrives, maybe you are sweating, but that is just a case of the nerves and, yeah, it’s normal. The interview is a two-way discussion, a dialogue where they ask you questions and you have the liberty to ask questions of them. You see, not only are you there to be evaluated for your suitability, but you also have a responsibility to evaluate them and their organization to determine if it is the kind of place where you want to be. Don’t misunderstand me, the burden of proof is more on your shoulders because you want to work for them, but you are not a victim of the process, you are a participant and should recognize it.
But it all comes down to answering one question, “Why should they hire you?” If you can satisfactorily answer this question, then congratulations, you might have the opportunity to be elevated to the next step in the process. You might even consider asking them, “Can you please tell me why I should consider joining your company?” And here is another suggestion: don’t even think of it as an interview, for the reason I described above. Rather, you have a meeting where you will engage in a business conversation, and that is what it is, is it not? A business conversation or discussion is somewhat different than an interview in the minds of most. If you think of it as a business meeting and discussion, you will conduct yourself differently, trust me on this. You will be more interactive and participatory, which conveys confidence. Another reason perception matters is that companies don’t generally seek people who demonstrate they are unsure or are not confident they can perform in the role for which they are interviewing. 
So today, I only want readers to wrap their heads around this concept, to lose the anxiety of what an interview represents. Next time, I’ll share more about the most stressful interview, the first interview, the interview you’ve got to get through in order to be moved one step closer to a job offer. I’m not talking about a telephone or Skype interview – those are initial screening interviews but, rather, the first handshake-initiated, face-to-face event. We’ll talk about what you need to do in order to prepare and then set yourself apart from most other applicants, who want the same job.

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