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Interviewing for a Job
by Barbara Rocha

(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 employees.

If they hire the right person, life will be good. The job will get 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, the added inconvenience of documenting the problems that justify 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 you do.

The interviewer, of course, is aware of the problems caused by hiring the wrong person, and therefore is feeling the 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.

Because of the pressure and the lack of training, the interviewer may be as ill-at-ease interviewing as you are about being interviewed.

Be ready to walk. You don’t need this job. You need a place you can contribute your skills and abilities, a place 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 will they.

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?” In addition, 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 to solve the company’s hiring problem and also make the interviewer look good.

Help create a positive outcome by concentrating on helping the interviewer look good by hiring the right person. That is, base your answers 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: check them out on the web, 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 your answers on 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 interaction 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 your getting fired.