Focus on the job interview
Help the interviewer make the right choice. (You
may not be it)
If you're looking for a way to project more confidence and
poise in your next job interview, consider making a shift
in your focus. Examine the full meaning of the phrase "Help
Wanted", and ask yourself is this interview really about
me? Chances are it's not.
The company has a problem. Something isn't getting done
because they've lost employees for whatever reason, or because
they have more work than they can handle with their present
If they hire the right person, life will be good. The job
function getting done without demanding too much of their
time and attention. The department will run better. They
can get on with making the company successful.
If they hire the wrong person, somebody is going to have
to deal with that instead of doing more productive work.
It will mean extra training, extra meetings, repairing the
damage, correcting mistakes, resolving conflicts. And, probably,
there will be the added inconvenience of documenting the
problems that justified letting the person go.
The final blow: going through the hiring process all over
again. It's expensive, time consuming, and frustrating to
hire the wrong person.
Be aware: The interviewer may have more to lose than
The interviewer, of course, is aware of the problems caused
by hiring the wrong person, and therefore be feeling serious
pressure. If you're the interviewer and you recommend hiring
someone who turns out to be the wrong person for the job,
you don't look so good.
In addition, some interviewers haven't much training in
interviewing. The job got passed off to them by someone
else who didn't have the time, or didn't want to have the
time. At the age of 18, my daughter was given the job of
interviewing for a large software company. Fortunately,
for them, she was good at it, but she developed her own
criteria and made up her own rules. Your interviewer may
not be good at making up guidelines for interviewing. And
may not have much confidence in those guidelines.
Because of the pressure and the lack of training, the interviewer
may be as ill-at-ease interviewing as you are about being
Be ready to walk. You don't need this job. You need
to a place you can contribute your skills and abilities
where they appreciate and pay you. Getting a job is about
solving two problems: the company's and yours. If it's not
a good fit, you'll wish you hadn't gotten the job, and so
Interviews are a two-way street for the purpose of discovering
if you belong together. It's not about your being judged.
You need to ask questions as well as answer them to find
out if this is a good place for you to work. (This would
not be, "When do I get my first vacation," and "Where is
the water cooler?" Rather, "What opportunities are there
for learning about other parts of the company?" "Are employees
encouraged to continue their education?" "Does the company
offer training programs?" "What is the rate of employee
turnover?" "Is the company considering any new product lines?"
"How are they dealing with the Y2K questions?") Do your
ethics, work styles, attitudes and goals match?
You and the interviewer are peers. If you feel desperate
to get this job, you'll look and sound like it. You won't
be thinking clearly and you'll come across poorly. You need
your wits about you so you can help the interviewer determine
if you're the person who will solve the company's hiring
problem and also make the interviewer look good.
If either of you is focuses on yourself, you're not participating
productively in the interview.
Help create a positive outcome by concentrating on helping
the interviewer look good by hiring the right person. That
is, formulate your answers based on how your skills help
the company and the interviewer solve their problem and
make the right hiring choice.
Don't wing it.
Find out about the company before going to the interview:
go to the reference section of the library, check out the
company's website, talk to someone who works there, check
newspaper archives for past articles. How big is the company,
how many locations, how many employees, the name of the
president, their ranking in their industry. Find out their
history, how long they've been in business, if they've been
in other businesses in the past.
The more you know about the job and about the company, the
easier it is for you to concentrate on shaping your answers
to make it clear how you can help them.
This isn't about your impressing them. It's not about your
getting a job. It's about looking for a match. It's the
wedding of two equals. You don't want to take a job where
you'll be miserable. And you don't want to take one that
results in getting fired.
For more information, contact:
Barbara Rocha and Associates
PO Box 60521, Pasadena, California 91116