February 16, 2009

Off The Market: Dundee With Interviewing, Crocodile Style

Filed under: Human Relations, Meeting Marketers, Personal Branding, School — Robert John Ed @ 1:02 am

I’d been meaning to write about interviewing and such for some time.  The problem is that I didn’t want to write about it publicly while still in the process.  There are some major problems with interviewing and the processes around it.  Every company wants you to be absolutely in love with them.  That’s an issue, because you can’t be in love with every company you interview with.  Every company I interviewed with interested me for various reasons, but there were only a few that I was really dying to go work for.  Luckily, one of them has given me a chance to do so.  And I mean a company that I’d work at for free if given the opportunity.  It’s an incredibly big challenge to go in there and provide value, which is fantastic!  One of the main things I’ve learned about myself over the years is that I need challenges to be happy.  This position will most definitely be that.  Pardon the exclamations and rambling about said company, but I’m truly ecstatic.

Another issue with interviewing is the randomness of selection.  So much of what you get asked is subjective and biased on the perspective of the interviewer.  For instance, in a review of my first rounds with school, one company (I am almost positive of which one) gave me a low confidence score.  Now I’m hardly perfect, but ask anyone who has known me for a significant time period and they will tell you that confidence is not something I struggle with.  Yet somehow, I managed to give off that vibe in an interview.  So that almost has to be some sort of random error, or I was off my game that day.  Truthfully, the negative feedback got my engine roaring again and the next interview went like gangbusters.  Once again, the challenge thing.  I felt challenged and aggressively sought out to smash it.  There is always value to constructive criticism, true professionals seek it out, but when criticism is illegitimate, then what’s wrong?

The problem is that so many people are not necessarily great interviewees.  In fact, I’d argue it’s very difficult to be a “great” interviewee because it’s so subjective.  You can’t be great at it because you don’t know what everyone is coming for.  You can certainly remain calm, offer reasoned responses and maintain a generally affable disposition during the process, but you can’t be everything to everyone.  This is turning into a rant on why interviewing isn’t enjoyable, but interviewers also have a tendency to look for red flags instead of necessarily focusing on positives.  I can’t blame them for this as no one wants to work with a borderline sociopath with mommy issues.  This isn’t really a problem.  Not everyone should be a fit for every position.  That much is true.  But too many impeccable candidates are passed over because they get nervous about behavioral questions and fumble on something that is actually in their wheelhouse.  

 My class still has some ridiculously talented and kind people that haven’t been offered opportunities to interview for positions where they’d do a great job.  That’s a problem for the students.  Something is missing.  Either the resume isn’t up to spiff, they haven’t properly learned about or networked with the companies they’re interested in or something else.  Because all the companies I attempted to speak with (save one or two) reached back out to me and made an effort.  The company I’m going to work for absolutely blew me away.  Every single person I asked for a meeting with jumped at it and gave me great advice.  In a few years, you can bet I’ll be doing the same for my employer.  The people truly make the difference, and it became apparent very quickly that working with those kind of people is more important in a career decision than anything else.

As a whole, the process is really difficult.  I spent more time on networking, reviewing companies, preparing for interviews and whatnot than any one class last year.  That’s actually quite a bit of time.  Human resource work is some of the most exasperating and tough work I’ve ever done, I understand how hard it is for the employers and potential employees.  It just seems like there has to be a better way to go about it, though I’m not sure what that is.


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