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The Best Job Interview Approach? Ensuring it Doesn’t Matter.


Robby

Not too long ago I was chatting with a young woman who mentioned she had a job interview coming up in a few days. “It doesn’t really matter though,” she explained. “So I am not preparing for it.”

I asked her why she has so little confidence in her ability to perform well in the interview.

Job Interview Advice
© Flickr User David Davies

The woman, who I will call Anna, clarified: “I’m confident I’ll get the job. The interview doesn’t matter because it’s just a formality.”

This individual already had the confidence of the hiring manager. She already met several members of her future team in social situations. She had worked with one of them in a previous job. And she also had been volunteering at the a nonprofit which was one of the customers of her presumptive employer.

In short, Anna was a shoe-in–and she knew it.

Candidates tend to place a great deal of emphasis on the interview, seeing it as the most important step in the job. I think that’s because they erroneously associate the employment relationship with something like a marriage relationship. We think of the job interview as the first date, as we are being evaluated on our potential performance as a lifelong partner.

While this analogy might seem like it has some merit, it’s mostly ridiculous. Romantic relationships are built on mutual attraction, shared interests, alignment of personal values, and the pursuit of mutual and complimentary dreams. But a job is really about accountability. Can you and will you do what is needed in the role as it is defined?

Sure, we all want to work for a company that we can believe in. But a company isn’t a person. It’s not going to feel about us the way we feel about the organization. Interviews aren’t dates; they are a weird exercise in social confirmation.

The best thing you can do, then, is make sure that you don’t need to prove yourself in the interview as a social and competent person. At the jobseeker, you’ll be expected to complete interviews. As with many challenges, the best way to win is to not play the game. Follow the advice of my friend Anna. Network your way into the company so that you already have the trust of the important people the before the fateful day arrives. The interview will be a tour of the office, not a test of your character.

When the interview doesn’t matter, the job is yours.

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About the Blogger: Robby Slaughter is a productivity speaker and expert. He is a principal with a AccelaWork, an Indianapolis consulting firm.

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2 Responses

  1. Mel January 24 2014 @ 7:08 pm

    Good post! IndyAtWork has been super helpful as I am job searching. I have a sort of off-topic questions if you don't mind…Something I do if I don't have an "in" like "Anna" before an interview is check out what other employees are saying on review boards like Glassdoor. They are probably the few disgruntled employees who had bad experiences, but I was wondering what is your take on these posts? How should they be considered when thinking about whether or not you take a position since you can't know a company's culture in a few visits? I am afraid of being stuck in a bad work environment.

  2. robbyslaughter January 28 2014 @ 2:59 am

    Mel, thanks for writing!

    You can certainly use review sites to try and get a sense for a company, but these are kind of like using review sites to get a sense for a restaurant. They might include accurate information about some individual experiences but there is a lot of junk too.

    A visit or two isn't going to tell you what the culture is like at a company. But you can use LinkedIn to find people who used to work there, and then ask them. Chances are someone you know is connected to a former employee—and why wouldn't they give you the truth?

    And finally, you are never "stuck" in a bad work environment! If you get a new job and you don't like it after a few weeks, you can look for work again.

    Thanks again for the comment. Best of luck in your search!

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