You’ve probably read numerous job interview tips which list the ways to respond to difficult interview questions: Tell me about yourself; What are your work-related weaknesses? Why are you leaving your current employer? These are the usual dreaded questions that we all expect to hear from interviewers. Typically interviewees are advised to create well-prepared and rehearsed scripts to respond to these dreaded questions. And so, during the course of the interview, interviewees sit on the edge of their seats waiting to respond, trying to remember the correct answers. And consequently, the interview becomes a race, a highly tense setting designed to stay one step ahead of the other with scripted conversation, pre-planned positioning, and second-guessing. Within this scenario, the possibility of effectively assessing the position and being able to evaluate how you might fit within the company is minimized.
Ideally, the interviewer and the interviewee should operate within certain mutual goals. To effectively hire someone, the interviewer needs to use questions that lead to meaningful responses and provide a clear picture of the candidate. At a minimum, the interviewer is looking for information regarding work assignments you’ve handled, the specific steps undertaken to achieve results, and the direct results accomplished.
As an interviewee, you have to be able to deliver this information….no matter the question. Additionally, as an interviewee, the only way you’ll be able to respond with full confidence (without referring to a script) is by ensuring that you’ve done your homework. To confidently manage the interview, it’s important to know where you’re heading – – to know your vision.
A well organized search for new career opportunities requires a comprehensive strategy. Most importantly, your search should flow directly from your own Career Vision. The vision of where you see yourself in the long term. Considering all the changes in the workplace, it’s easy to lose sight of your vision, of where you’re heading. You may have to change the path you’re following; however, it’s even more important never to let go of your fundamental plan or vision. Every step you undertake to find the new job, the new career opportunity, or the promotion should be based on your Career Vision.
A number of years ago, I recall interviewing a highly qualified candidate for a management position. He had begun his career in sales at an excellent company and had attained a MBA. Initially, I had resisted arranging an interview with this candidate because he was definitely overly qualified for the position. However, my director wanted to bring him in, and so we moved forward with the interview.
Apparently, this young candidate had hit a career snag and was aimlessly submitting his resume to classified ads, job boards, associates, etc., with the hope of landing a decent position. He was well prepared; however, I could see the wear and tear of his job campaign as we dug deeper into his resume and his goals.
During the interview, he worked tirelessly to present himself as the ideally qualified candidate for the position. He provided all the right answers (the ones everyone has been coached to say) and discussed the specific results his career had produced. He had read our company’s job description, reviewed our mission statement, and was prepared to discuss it with me. However, he could not provide information regarding his own career vision or goals. He merely repeated the same stuff I’ve read in numerous “how-to” manuals and books about interviewing. When I asked him about his long term plans, he replied, “I would like to be in a position to fully and successfully contribute to your company.” Nice response – – but what did that mean?
In the end, we extended an offer to another candidate who had presented himself as eager to connect with our clients and ready to discuss solutions for our company’s needs. His credentials were not as strong as the supposedly “ideal candidate,” however, we could envision how he would fit within our organization and our company culture.
If you create and maintain a path towards your own Career Vision, you will be able to answer those dreaded interview questions without feeling nervous. You”ll begin to realize that the interview is not the most important tactic – – it’s only one step within a bigger picture. It’s your vision that’s essential, not a well-prepared and rehearsed script based on someone else’s words. Successful interviews happen when you’re able to effectively convey your vision, your passion, and the work-related results of your own efforts.
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