Most of the topics that I touch on can be covered in one post, but a job search is a huge topic. There is so much advice floating around about most aspects of the job search, I have focused on interviews since that is an area where I have had the most experience as a hiring manager.
Shortly after I started this blog last month, I got the idea to circulate a handful of the behavioral interview questions that I have regularly asked potential employees among my LinkedIn connections, friends and family to gather their answers and share them here. I cast a wide net because people are busy and in order to get enough responses (especially during the holidays) I would have to start with a large pool of potential ‘candidates’.
I presented the request in the most positive manner that I could to pique their interest, knowing that I had a probable high degree of success among certain folks due to their innate interest in helping, high energy or other traits. I knew that I would have to do a certain amount of cajoling with those that might be willing, but were busy or distracted. Then there was the group that were long shots, but worth asking just in case.
I didn’t take into account the visceral reaction that I got from a few people. I decided that this reaction alone was worth a post. Behavioral interviews are becoming very common due to the fact that the largest cost that a business incurs is invested in its people. It is to the benefit of the organization therefore (and frankly to the employees, and potential employees as well) that the right people – those with the appropriate temperament as well as skills – are brought in from the beginning. I’ve made the opposing argument in previous posts that it is the job seeker’s responsibility to interview the company just as carefully as the company is examining the job seeker.
Interviewing is hard for so many reasons – dealing with rejection, figuring out how to present yourself so that you are appealing to the company and also true to yourself, dealing with your own demons, and so on.
One friend responded that she would not participate, “I can’t answer those hiring questions on the grounds that I HATE questions like that in an interview. I went to an interview once where a 20 year old asked me where I saw myself in 5 years. I said apparently not working for you and left.”
I completely understand her reaction in one respect because most likely the interviewer was just going through the motions and didn’t really know why or the intent of the question. It’s the bureaucracy that we’re reacting to.
So it comes down to control – most of us don’t have control over the process that has been established for job hunting, but we have control over ourselves. I respect the answers that I got from those who find the process somehow distasteful and told me that they therefore decline to participate. To my thinking they missed out on a low risk opportunity to practice something that we should all be capable of doing.
It reminds me of a conversation that I had with my aunt and my mom some time ago when my son was a baby. My aunt said that all women should be aware of the skills they possess that would allow them to earn a living. I was smug in my knowledge that I wouldn’t need to worry about that, until 12 years later when I found myself divorced. You don’t have to like something to be able to do it, and do it competently.
I still have to bother a couple more people who said that they would answer after the holidays and then you will see the questions and answers that I received in part 2.
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