Many job seekers tell me that, on the rare occasions when they actually get an interview, they’re going through a long process only to come up short at the end – they were “on the short list” or “in the top 3” or “it got down to 2” … and then someone else got the job.
I’m always skeptical.
OF COURSE, in every serious job search – certainly at a time like this – there are multiple candidates.
And somebody has to win.
But I’m struck at the answers I get to questions like these, which I always pose to disappointed job seekers:
1. What was going so wrong in the business that they needed to hire someone like you?
2. How did the hiring executive/owner tell you they would choose among the qualified candidates?
3. What did they say were the qualities of the best person they have ever had in the position?
4. And what type of personality did they say seems to do best in this job?
The answers I get are, mostly, “I don’t know.”
I’m guessing that no one is really asking these questions. And yet, knowing the answers to them would give you a good idea of the sort of person who’d best fit the role – and if that’s you, the answers would give you ideas about how to talk about your experience. If that’s not you, you’d know to take yourself out of the running! (It is, of course, never a good idea to try to fake your way into a job by saying that you have whatever qualities they say they’re looking for. That’s a question of honor – and not leaving yourself open for misery later.)
Truth be told, I don’t think job seekers ask many questions at all.
I think they’re waiting to be asked questions … and then trying to figure out what to say to impress the asker.
It’s possible that most job seekers aren’t sincerely interested in the employer. They’re interested in the pay and benefits and vacation policy, sure, but not in the details of where the company’s going, what the obstacles are to its getting there, what strengths and weaknesses the organization has identified, and what goals are there to pursue.
And I think it’s possible that most job seekers don’t really want to know what sort of person has succeeded in the job in the past. Rather they just want to fit themselves into the job and start getting that paycheck.
Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me you’re sincerely curious. Tell me you’re interested in knowing about the organization, and only moving further in the interview process if you can support their approach and their goals, and do that with enthusiasm and energy. Ask the questions!
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