It's Just a Conversation -- with Purpose

by: Joanne Meehl

Interviewing is probably when job hunters get the most nervous about their search, and some can get very worked up, as if the interviewer is going to judge them as human beings. Many people either buy books about every conceivable interview question, then attempt to memorize them, making them more nervous than before.

Or, worse, they go into the interview like a good boy or girl, and wait for questions before speaking. That's the part I want to write about here: the good little boy and girl mode.

Unless you are under the age of, say, 12, you are no longer a boy or girl. I don't care where you live and in what culture you were raised, being the reactive person in today's interview -- meaning the one who waits for the other (the interviewer) to do something -- puts you at a distinct disadvantage. Even the hiring manager or recruiter or HR person raised in the same culture will view you as someone who looks good on paper, but who on the job will probably sit and wait to be told what to do next.

So how do you become more outspoken/more proactive for an interview? You don't wait for the interview. You start being more that way in normal, everyday life. You may not want to hear that, but to make it in today's for-profit and even non-profit business world, you'll have to come out of your shell more. Keeping your successes and excellent reviews a secret will not land you the next interview, or the job, today.

Note the operative word there: TODAY. On your last job, where you may have been for 5, 10, even 20 years, you were sheltered and protected from the new winds buffeting the business world. What worked then, and "got you there" then, won't work now. At least the quiet, "don't notice me" part.

So when you go into an interview today, be thinking "I am a peer to this person who's interviewing me...I have something they need...I can solve their problems...that's why they're calling me in to talk. So I'm going to help THEM by telling them what I can do well." That means having a "conversation with purpose"...not just a meandering isn't-this-nice-that-we-have-so-much-in-common, but one that starts off with you telling the interviewer why you're a good match for the job, illustrating why you are a fit with your success stories. And it moves to a back-and-forth exchange of information. And it ends with you asking about next steps.

So they'll be asking you questions, and sometimes you'll be asking the question. It's not a two-way inquisition. It's a conversation, with the end goal being, on both sides of "let's take this further".

With that approach in mind, going into an interview loses most of the stress, and your confidence is higher. Now isn't that the way to do a job search?


Leave a Comment

Blog Archive