Monday, July 12, 2010

Interviewing: An Alternative Perspective

MSN Careers has posted this fantastic article about looking at interviewing from a different angle. Changing your perspective just a little bit can give you the edge you're looking for.

Putting Yourself in the Interviewer's Seat Can Give You an Advantage
By Alison Craig, author of "Hello, Job!"

What did you think of your last interviewer? Did you feel as if you were mortal enemies? Or were you on the same team? I know that can sound extreme, but many people view a job interview as a fight or a competition -- a duel of wits. Actually, it's just a conversation and collaboration to find the best candidate for the job.

So have you ever thought about the job interview process from the interviewer's perspective? As a job seeker, you are more concerned about yourself and your personal needs. That is natural, but this selfish attitude could stop you from getting what you need and want: a job.

A job interview is like a graceful dance in which two people come together and find out whether they are in sync. There are three main components to all job interviews at any level:

1. Your personal agenda.

2. The company's agenda.

3. The common ground you both stand on.

Now here is the thing: The interviewer already sees and understands all sides. And if you as the job seeker can see the different sides as well, you could have an edge on your competition. You'll be able to communicate more effectively about how you can help the company and how you are the perfect fit for the position.

First think about that common ground. What do you and the interviewer have in common? To begin with, you both want to fill the position. You both want to be working rather than looking for that right fit. See yourself as being on the same side as the interviewer. The more you can find out in your research about the company (and the specific interviewer when possible), the more common ground you are likely to find.

Next, think about the motives: yours and the company's. Have a clear idea about what you are looking for and why you're well-suited for the job. That sounds obvious, but if you're coming from a desperate any-job-will-do place, you won't be convincing.

What is the company's agenda? There will be specifics for each job, and remember that all companies are looking for two things: flexibility and loyalty.

How flexible are you? Are you willing to take on new tasks to help the company or are you only going to do what is strictly written in your job description? The more you're willing to grow and stretch as the company grows, the more valuable you will be.

Loyalty also matters. As much as you don't want to keep looking for a job, a company doesn't want to keep training new employees. It's costly to keep replacing and retraining. So if you are loyal by nature, and you want to grow with a company and be there through thick and thin, then you are an ideal candidate.

So is that the end of it? Know what the company wants and mirror it, right? Not so fast! If you don't have qualifications, or you don't believe in the mission of the company, be honest and upfront. That will make you memorable, you both will know where everyone stands, and you won't waste each other's time. You're helping the employer find the right person for the job, and if you aren't it, simply say so.

It might be tempting to say whatever will land you any job, but by lying, you could you get stuck in a job that isn't right for you and end up looking for a job all over again. What's even more likely is that you won't land the job anyway. Your body language, that nonverbal communication, will rat on you. There's even a TV show on the Fox Network about this very thing, "Lie to Me." You may lie with your words, but you cannot lie with your body.

So what is your personal agenda? Do you want the job or just the money? When you apply for a job, are you thinking about how you can help the company and whether you're just what they are looking for? Companies want people who want to work, want to grow, want to help and want to be proactive. If you are such a person, it will show.

So as you prepare and polish for your interview, practice seeing yourself from the other side of the desk, and go in knowing that you and the interviewer are on the same team, simply finding the right match for the job.