Is there ever a situation where you feel more judged than the job interview? Honestly… You walk in and extend your hand for a handshake and you’re immediately judged on the firmness of your grip and whether or not you make and hold eye contact long enough. You’re judged on your clothes, the way you sit, your body language, your knowledge, your skills, and your past experience. The list goes on and on. It’s dreadful. I especially hate being interviewed by a committee.
If you’re anything like me on a normal day you have a pretty entertaining personality. You can strike up a conversation with anyone almost anywhere. In a normal setting you have a great sense of humor and can carry on an intelligent conversation. So what happens during the interview process that makes it so very very uncomfortable?
Perhaps it’s those inane interview questions that everyone seems to think they need to ask. What is your greatest strength? What is your greatest weakness? Tell me a time when you were in a conflict at work and how you handled it? Personally, I don’t recall having conflict at work. I’m not there to create conflict, I’m there to do a job I was hired to do. Useless, boring, waste of time questions.
More than that though, I think it’s the feeling of being scrutinized under a microscope. Of being made to feel not good enough or inadequately qualified for a position you know damn well you’re more than adequately qualified for.
The best job interview I ever had was a phone interview. The woman who interviewed me was smart and inquisitive without the normal condescending flair. She wasn’t interested in my age or my shoes or how long I held eye contact. She had a unique talent. She was able to coax information out of me about my skills and expertise without making me feel I was being put on the spot.
We spoke for an hour on the phone and I got that job that day. I once questioned Mrs. P about her unique interview strategy and her response was priceless information. She said she wasn’t concerned about what a job candidate’s strengths or weakness were because we all have those and people’s responses to those questions are so rehearsed you don’t learn anything about the person from them. In her experience she had found it was better to focus on how easy a person was to talk to and get along with. By doing so she could tell how well they were going to integrate with her team. To her, integration with the team was key because when teammates don’t get along they don’t help each other. On the other hand, when everyone gets along workflow moves smoothly and goals are easily achieved. This, in turn, makes her look good. I learned so much from her during our years together and I brought that lesson, and many others, with me when I became a Hiring Manager myself.
Unfortunately, my career was cut short by corporate downsizing. I later learned that Mrs. P had also not escaped the chopping block teaching us that corporate downsizing does not discriminate.
I guess in the words of the late great Frank Sinatra, “That’s Life”.