The Job Interview

My brother, an academic for most of his adult life, once told me he thought what I did was very difficult (at the time I was a Store Manager and had worked for several retail companies). He saw the most challenging part was the interview process. He said, “I just can’t see someone sitting across a desk from you, judging you.”

He was probably right, especially from the standpoint of someone who has never been through the process. Many of us who will experience an interview at this point of our careers may not have had much previous experience to prepare us. One thing is true, interview styles will vary from job to job.

It is one thing to apply for a job in fast food, or even retail. It is something else to be sitting across the desk from a news director or a publisher or some other higher-level job. In addition, many of us have a degree of talent (we wouldn’t have gotten this far if we didn’t). Talented people have a tendency to bristle a bit at criticism, even “constructive” criticism.  It takes experience to have a thick skin—it is one of the things you learn, with time.

There are similarities, though. You ARE being judged, and you had better get used to it.Those are the rules of the game. Remember, the interview is just as much about the employer than it is about you. The most important thing to realize is that day two people are being interviewed: the employer is interviewing you, but to a (much) smaller degree, you are interviewing them.

So, as it is in so many other instances, preparation is the key. With the relative ease of cyberstalking in modern times, there is no reason not to be well aware of the organization to which you are applying.  

However, most importantly, they are wondering what kind of person you are and what can you do for them.

When you enter an interview, you must have a game face that says, “I am the type of person you can see working here, and I can bring this to the table.” You must convince the interviewer that you are a part of the solution, not a potential problem. The best way to get a job is by showing them they would be foolish NOT to hire you.

Confidence is great, but cockiness is the fast track to loserville. When asked about your long term goals, nobody wants to hear “I will have your job in five years.” No one wants to hear that. Would you? If it sounds like BS, it probably is. Keep that to a minimum. Be yourself (except if you are filled with BS – then at least try to ACT like a real human being).

Two things are essential in an interview: showing what you can do for the company and respect for the process (and people). If you get to the interview and decide it is not right for you; always be polite, say “thank you for your time” and leave.

Look at the faces of the other employees, if they look like they are dreading their lives, or as if they are about to commit “hari kari,” you may want to rethink working there. That may be YOU in five years!

Always be aware that the process is not about you as an individual… they are looking for the best person for the job. You have to believe you are that person, and ready to show it.

Oh, and stay sober. That always helps.

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