Saturday, March 19, 2011

Interview with Purpose

Almost daily I see articles posted on the internet about interviewing. Most are targeted at candidates. They focus on the toughest interview questions and the best answers. How to dress for an interview. How to sit. How to make eye contact. Gender-related interview tips. Generational considerations…how should a baby boomer candidate respond to a Gen Y interviewer? The only subject other than job interviewing with a wider array of tips and advice is golf. And I would say the outcomes for job seekers is about the same as the outcomes for golfers. You look and act like you know what your doing but your scores don’t get any better.

To be clear, it is important that you dress appropriately, speak clearly and know how to answer the basic interview questions. But the most important consideration for a candidate is not “How do I get this job?” The most important one is “Can I bring value to this organization?” That should be the primary purpose of your interviewing process. And nowadays it is definitely a process. Certainly for management and executive level talent, the process may go on for weeks and months. A candidate will go through multiple interviews with various people. It is tedious, stressful, necessary and, if done well, revealing.

Sadly, the truth is that most organizations do not do a very good job of interviewing. Even those who believe they have a very thorough interview and evaluation process, tend to select candidates based on factors other than “value to the organization”. Value is important and it is a factor, but it usually trails way behind appearance, personality, work history and how well does the hiring authority like the candidate. And herein lies the greatest risk for both the candidate and the employer. If, on a scale of 1-10, you are a 10 on the “personal” factors and resume, but only a 3 on value; you may get the job, but you aren’t likely to keep it very long.

“Value to the organization” is a big subject on its own and depends on multiple factors. That is a major reason why it is so difficult to determine a candidate’s value to the organization during the interview process. In most cases, it is actually the candidate who is best suited to make that determination. The problem is that most candidates want the job too much and are unwilling to make an honest assessment of their “value fit” for the position and/or the company.

Next time we’ll talk about what a candidate should consider in determining their value to a potential new employer.

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