Part 1 of 2
The reason hiring authorities control the interview process is because job seekers let them. From the moment a candidate begins their job search, right up until the offer - when they suddenly decide to show they're not a push over by negotiating - most job seekers don't realize how much they allow themselves to remain powerless. Over the next few weeks we'll be looking at this problem closer.
The majority of people interviewing rail in frustration against the process. But in fact, most never connect the process with the concept of power, much less that they give that power away and that's exactly what causes their frustration.
Too many candidates are under the impression that they must submissively answer questions until they're invited to ask them. But there are ways of creating a dialogue and obtaining information that don't take the control away from the interviewer, but that don't give it away either.
Keeping your power begins with knowing what you want in your perfect job, and you find that out by taking a microscope to every single job you've held. You examine who you worked for, what bosses you liked or didn't and why, what made you irritated, what worked for you, what didn't, what gave you enjoyment, at what parts of your jobs you excelled and what parts you hated. Examining those issues helps you to discover what you want and what you want to avoid, and it's this knowledge that shapes what you need to find out when you interview.
Unfortunately, instead of building a foundation and then beginning their search, most job changers jump headfirst into the market, and frequently end up deluding themselves about what's important. As a result, they make decisions based on irrelevant and unimportant information. Since they don't know what they want, they don't know what they need to be discovering, or how to uncover it. All of this puts them at the mercy of the hiring authority.
One of the ways it happens is remaining silent after you've answered a question. To radically change the subject is to take control of the entire interview, and that's not your place. But neither must you sit quietly and wait for the next question.
Instead, tag on your own question at the end. When he says, "Tell me about a time you ..." Answer, and finish with "Is that skill something that's important to you in the person you hire?" He'll say, "No," or "Yes." If it's "No," ask him what some of the important characteristics are. Other appropriate ways to throw the ball back in his court are:
- Do you find that to be true?
- Is that something this company values?
- Is that important to you?
- Would you agree with that?
- Do you see that fitting in with what you're looking for?
- Is that an advantage to you?
Essentially, you're probing, and you're connecting it to your answer. His answers eliminate any assumptions you might otherwise make. They let you know where you stand, what you need to elaborate on or clarify, and what you might as well stop talking about, because it's not important to the interviewer.
Additionally, candidates often provide explanations before asking their questions. When you want to know something, just ask the question. Explaining not only apologizes for asking it, but it indicates your preferred answer. Consequently the answer may not be what you want to know, it may be what the interviewer wants you to think.
Asking questions that stay on topic and create a dialogue allows you to retain your power. It also tells the interviewer that you know what you're looking for and that you're there to find out if this company meets that outline or not. That, alone, makes you stand out in the interviewing crowd.
Any interviewer worth his salt will appreciate your discernment. Any one who doesn't may be on a power trip.
Next week: additional ways to retain your power.
Read Part 2
- Judi Perkins
Judi was a very successful recruiter for 22 years (15 contingency, 4 agency, 3 retained) and has now been a career coach for 3. The recruiter background, especially having been all three types, gives her deep insight into both sides of the hiring process. Now she teaches job seekers both the skill and psychological aspects of job hunting and why the usual methods don't work.