From the trenches: It’s not about you

When you are in the interview process, each member of the hiring team looks at you through their own prism of needs and desires.
Each person you meet has a personal agenda.  They are not here for you.  They are meeting you to decide whether or not you can help them achieve their goals.

Accept that.  It’s human nature.
That’s why it’s so important to frame your interview questions and answers around getting their needs met, not yours.
A candidate I worked with recently came to this realization and served him well; changing the way he framed his interactions resulted in him getting the job he wanted.
When he and I originally met, he gave me a very clear set of criteria of what he was looking for in a new role.  He was looking for the ability to move up more quickly in an company, to gain exposure to new product lines, and to work in an organization where he had the opportunity to work with more autonomy than he has now.
Cool – all good stuff.
He was fortunate enough to get to a final interview with a panel of interviewers.  He and I took some time to debrief his previous phone calls with members of the interviewing team, and I realized he was headed down a path where he would likely not get the job.
He did a great job of asking each person what the environment was like and what he could expect in the role he was interviewing for; each member of the hiring team did a good job of describing the environment and the opportunity to him.
His job prospects went off the rails in how he responded to their presentation – he said, “I would really like that”, “I think that would be great”, “that’s what I’m looking for”.
These answers imply a couple things that are subtle in nature yet were damaging to his candidacy.
  1.  His answers came from a “me first” mentality.
  2.  He gave no indication or examples of how he had previously performed when in a similar environment.
  3.  The answer paints a picture of someone liking what they’re doing, but nothing in how it gets the other person to achieve their goals.
I suggested to him he needed to reframe his conversations with the panel moving forward – we talked about getting the interviewer to describe how their job performance relied on whoever this new hire was.  As they were talking, I recommended he dig into his memory bank to conjure up examples of when he was in a similar position, and how he helped his boss or his peer satisfy their objectives.
I suggested to him that the more time he spent painting a picture of how he would be a catalyst for them achieving their goals, he would be strengthening his job prospects.  At the end of the interview, he would leave each person believing they could accomplish their goals with him vs. someone else.
The other candidates would talk about how much they WANT to work in a collaborative environment(but not what they would do in one) or how they wanted to work on new projects(but not how they would perform on such projects) – he would SHOW them, in stories of past accomplishments, how he has been successful in the past.
After the interviews, he did take time to assess whether or not this was the type of place where he could satisfy his criteria for a new job, but he did it AFTER the interviews.
He was ultimately offered the position, and he accepted – he completed a project so quickly with such great results that his Group Leader was promoted into a VP role – this promotion allowed him and the rest of the team to move up into new and more challenging roles.  He got his needs met through advancing other people’s agendas.
Simple and subtle and incredibly effective.
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