Interviewing has a parallel in dating when both sides are putting their best foot forward.…
John Borrowman III
Borrowman Baker LLC
A fundamental goal of the interview process is to figure out whether you’re a match to the job. And a common approach is trying to understand what the employer wants. But, that has it backwards and can leave you making a decision you’ll regret a few months later.
When you’re preparing for an interview, the place to start is with what you want. Why?
- It’s your career. You should be in charge. If you can’t articulate what it is that you want in a new position, you have more homework to do before you even think about a job change. (You should also be sure to ask for that where you are. You might be surprised by the response.) Whether you want more of something you’re already doing or something entirely new and different, you need to be clear about that and prepared to say why.
- Expecting the employer to tell you what he wants – then hoping it matches with what you want – is playing a dangerous guessing game. It opens the door to generalizations and the kind of ‘blue-sky’ conversation that is too easily misinterpreted. The employer may tell you that he wants to “expand his practice”, and you think that means you’ll be involved in the business development work you’re eager to learn. What he really means, though, is that he will increase his business development while you handle nothing but production. Imagine the pain of discovering that only after you take the job.
- Smart employers know that they can no longer operate with a ‘one-size-fits-all’ mentality. In order to build strong teams that mean strong practices, they have to make room for the employee who is happy being 100% in production as well as the employee who is eager to do the business development that leads to a leadership role. These employers are prepared to adjust, but only if they know what it is that you want.
This doesn’t mean you don’t have to be sensitive to the questions you ask and how you ask them. Some questions are better for a first interview, some for a second interview. Some questions are good for the boss to answer, others are better when asked of would-be peers.
You can have a more successful job search when you interview for what you want, not what the employer wants.
Contact us for a confidential conversation about how to frame your questions for a more productive interview.