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Archive for October 13th, 2008

An opportunity has arisen, and I am gearing up for the big sitdown meeting. I have a couple of weeks to prepare and, for once, I feel inspired to actually…you know…prepare.

Why do I say “for once”? First of all, I am exaggerating for purposes of illustration. That’s writin’, yo! Secondly, I feel I generally do a pretty good interview. It’s never fun, and no one likes to be judged by total strangers, but I do OK. There’s no magic formula, I just try to relax and let my portfolio speak for itself…and give it a nudge when it doesn’t.  Be calm, be respectful, be funny but not unserious.  Make sure I know my resume and try to be as familiar with the company as you can from reading their website.

In short, know the company, represent my experiences well, and try to be cool. The mistake I have made in the past is assuming this is enough. One thing I have neglected is the interview process.  Beyond qualifications, beyond personality …the mechanics of the interview itself.

The first big lesson is to not assume the person across the desk is a professional interviewer. If he/she immediately opens a binder and begins reading, “Describe an incidence where your quick decision-making rescued a project from failure”…this is a sure sign.  I don’t mean this a slam. This person is usually your potential supervisor, not someone from HR. He may conduct interviews once a year or so, and it’s hardly his favorite part of the job. This can make for a long, choppy and uncomfortable interview.  In this case, are you prepared to subtly take the reins to make sure your story gets told? There are times I wished I was.

The second thing I have been guilty of is pride. (Pride, Mike? YOU?) Oh yes.  Pride, as in, “I have 20 years of experience, been around the world, blah blah blah, and you’re asking me to Describe my Greatest Weakness? Please. If THIS is how they select talent, then…” well, you know the rest.

The bottom line? Scenarios like these two have made fine rationalizations for those times when I didn’t get the job.  But I still didn’t get the job. Now I see that, yes, some of the process seems like a big game. However, every rebel needs to learn this lesson: play the game even a little and you can improve your chances a lot.

So it’s back to Interviewing 101.  I’ll keep you posted as to my progress. So far, I have determined that my greatest weakness is that “I care too much!”

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