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Job search: Interviews are modern Greek tragedies

Odds are the person interviewing you has a similar story as mine – they developed their interviewing skills “on the job.” Executives and managers are thrust into the recruiting part of their job without first developing skills to evaluate talent.

Outside of human resources, those whose job requires them to assess and interview candidates get little to no training. I never received any formal training regarding how to interview and evaluate a candidate. Yet, I’ve interviewed thousands throughout my career.

I admit I stumbled through my first 150 – 200 interviews. I developed my interviewing skills, a skill I knew would serve me well, on job candidates, which I now admit was unfair to them.

Hiring the right people who’ll fit with the position, team and company can’t be overstated. I keep British-American author Simon Sinek’s words top of mind, “If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for the money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.”

Since finding work is seeking approval, I often think of interviews as conduits to modern Greek tragedies.

We spend much of our youth and adulthood seeking approval, trying to “fit in” with the right clothes, car, house, job, etc. We’re constantly aware we’re being judged – a cause of much of why we second-guess ourselves and the stress this causes.

l Am I good enough?

l Do I fit in?

You desperately want to hear, “We want you.”

WARNING: Three interview truths coming.

l When interviewing, everything goes into “the mix” – past hiring mistakes, bias, prejudices, commonalities.

l At the core of every hiring decision is gut feel.

l Likability is the most valuable currency a job seeker has, trumping education, skills, and experience.

When a candidate is sitting in front of me, I’m asking myself:

l Will this person fit in with the current team members and the company’s culture?

l Will this person be seen as a good hire by my boss and peers, and the team? (A bad hire equals bad judgment, which is an X against my reputation.)

Acing an interview is extremely hard. Much of your success depends on whom you’re speaking to, and humans are the ultimate moving target. The best you can hope for is to stack the odds in your favour and hope your interviewer is in a good mood.

Keep top of mind: An interview is a sales meeting, and hiring is a business arrangement.

When interviewing, your job is to establish rapport, build trust and achieve the following goals of making the interviewer:

l Believe in you.

l See you as a fit.

You achieve these goals by:

l Clearly demonstrating what value you can bring to the employer. Connect how your track record, which needs to be quantified; otherwise, it’s just your opinion, would be an asset to the employer.

l Presenting yourself as a problem solver. If you look at work holistically, you’ll realize every position within an organization exists to solve a problem(s). How can your experience and skills solve the problem(s) the position you applied to exists to solve?

l Asking good questions. By asking good questions, your interviewer will talk about their pain points. You can then explain (sell yourself) how you’d go about solving their pain point.

Three things worth noting and using as guidance when interviewing:

l An employer will hire you if they’re convinced you’ll bring more value than you cost, therefore offer as much value as possible.

l Problem solvers, those with a proven track record of solving their employer’s pain points, will always be in demand.

l People don’t have short attention spans. They have short interest spans. Make your interviewer interested in you!

There’s no blueprint to guarantee interview success. All you can do is stack the odds in your favour as much as possible. However, there’s one universal interview rule that’ll tip the odds in your favour: Always tell the person sitting across from you what they want to hear. When you develop the ability to read your interviewer and comfortably offer solutions to their pain points, you’ll have developed solid interviewing skills. Such skills will mitigate the number of Greek tragedies you’ll experience while job searching.

Nick Kossovan, a seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape in Canada, offers advice on searching for a job. Send him your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

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