By Don Orlando
It’s natural for you to be concerned about upcoming interviews. But when you explore the dynamics of those conversations, some of the anxiety will go away. This post helps you do just that. When it comes to folklore about how to manage your career (and there are tons of it!), the interview often gets center stage. That may be because of the false assumptions about the subject. Assumption one: the interviewer is very prepared for the process. The truth: most interviewers aren’t trained for interviewing at all. According to Adam Grant, Associate Professor of Management at the Wharton School “Many managers do no better than random chance in selecting high performers.” (October, 2011) Assumption two: there are 10 (or is it 15? 20?) “magic” questions I have to memorize the answers to in order to do well in the interview. The truth: while some questions are common, it’s hard to believe anybody has gotten a buy off on the magic set of questions as they apply, unchanged, to every career field in every industry in every sector all across America. And even if the idea is true, you’d have to not only memorize those questions (and an answer for each one), you’d have to recognize them no matter how they were expressed and respond well no matter which order they came in. It’s no surprise if we leave the interview in the hands of the almost-always-untrained interviewer, what we get is an interrogation. But what you both want is a collaboration. You want to know the most pressing problem they have as it relates to your career field. After all, if you don’t know what they need, you can’t tell if you can help them. You’ve had those successful collaborations all your work life. Your boss asks you to solve a problem. You speak with her to find the basic information you need to start working on the solution. You propose ideas. She responds. Soon there is an agreement about what you are going to do, why you’re doing it, and how your work benefits the organization. That—by definition—is an interview!
Entire books are written about the interview. My purpose was just to introduce a key idea. Make every interview into a collaboration by asking about the key problem the employer needs solved. When you do everybody wins, because the discussion is on ground comfortable to you and the person you’re speaking with. It’s all about our favorite conversation: how you’re going to help the organization make a lot more money than it takes to recruit and retain you. You know. It’s the same conversation that made your career successful.