After more than two decades in the Executive Search
business, I have learned a lot about what goes into a
successful hire. I try to impart my knowledge to both hiring
managers and candidates. Nevertheless, at many job
interviews I find myself listening to questions that make me
cringe and answers that make me want to cry.
Now it's my turn to talk.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Seduction by Interview: A Valentine's Day Special

I swore that I would love you to the end of time!
So now I'm praying for the end of time
To hurry up and arrive
Cause if I gotta spend another minute with you
I don't think that I can really survive*
In a courtship, you may believe in love at first sight, but experiencing that “love” should not blind you to the lyin’ eyes and cheatin’ heart you discover later in the relationship.  Similarly, during the interview process, falling in love with the idea of a job is not unusual.  But do some listening and some careful analysis before you walk down the aisle. 

If an interview process has gone right, both candidate and employer have portrayed themselves honestly.  Still, there is a slim possibility that the employer made no mention that the previous occupant of your position was hospitalized for a little breakdown (he is fully recovered now), and that you made no mention of that pesky lawsuit (none of their business). 

One way to minimize those unspoken truths is to ask a lot of questions during your interview.  Most hiring managers and candidates will not lie blatantly, for fear of legal reprisal. (And, of course, because of their own integrity.)

But today I would like focus on negative information that HAS been revealed and what to do with it.  Two words:  LISTEN and BELIEVE.  Remember that an interviewer has no selfish interest in imparting negative information to a job candidate. Rather, quite the contrary.  So, if an interviewer speaks in less than glowing terms about the position, the personnel, or the company – take it to the bank.  Assume that the interviewer is trying to provide you with a realistic expectation of your working environment and help you determine whether the job is a good fit for you.

For instance:

When your interviewer tells you that she is known as a difficult manager, take note if you are sensitive or faint-of-heart.  If you don’t like hard-hitting criticism and/or raised voices, beware.

When your interviewer tells you that some overtime will be required, you can bet that you will be following your favorite 7:00 pm reality show only on DVR.

When an interviewer says the job is “fast-paced,” assume that you will struggle to keep up with the workload.  If you are calm and steady-as-they-go, this job may be a good fit for you.  If not, a prescription for Xanax may be in your future.

When you are told that the department you will oversee is currently months behind and in a state of chaos, presume that your first few months will resemble the Ninth Circle of Hell.

An employer with a job opening can be a seductive suitor, particularly if you are unemployed or unhappy in your current situation.  But do not close your eyes to the reality of the job as presented in the interview process.

LISTEN and BELIEVE.  With any luck, you will not be singing the lyrics from a Meat Loaf song as you undertake your now job.

I'm praying for the end of time
It's all that I can do
Praying for the end of time, so I can end my time with you!!!*

*Lyrics from Paradise by the Dashboard Light, written by Jim Steinman, performed by Meat Loaf.

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