New Year, New Friends

If the past is a predictor of the future, then each new year should start with an abundance of career choices, giving both job candidates and hiring executives numerous opportunities to get acquainted.

Think “Audition” not “Interview”

Too often, people treat interviews and introductory meetings as exceptional experiences with unique and artificial rules. This kind of thinking creates superficial grounds for discovery. Instead, think of what can be gained by treating first encounters as offering representative samples of behavior rather than platforms for persuasive arguments.

Both hiring executives and candidates need to discern quickly what it might be like to work with the other person.

Candidates Beware
Given today’s climate of talent wars, candidates who are too taken with themselves because they know they are in demand can end up tripping on themselves.

Upon first introductions, it can be all too easy for candidates to move into their worst evaluative postures as they meet potential colleagues. It is important to be aware that those who immediately begin critically sizing up the potential employer will telegraph a negatively-charged “purchasing agent” mindset rather than presenting a positive, consultative selling posture.

Instead, candidates fare better entering into each introduction as though they are already happily on the team. Candidates should be auditioning how they naturally function at work on a daily basis, showing that they can comfortably share the same side of the desk with their new employers. This means entering the interview as allies of the hiring team, imagining a layout of the field of challenges spread out before them.

Next, they should collegially explore the organization’s current situation, what previously transpired and what can be anticipated in the future. That way, prospects will “audition” using a very natural and inviting approach rather than acting with an artificial “interview-like” flair.

Vantage Point of the Hiring Executive
Let’s also take a look at these encounters from the standpoint of hiring executives.

Interviewers can learn much more by soliciting questions from the candidates rather than simply quizzing them about their employment histories. By their very nature, questions raised by candidates tend to yield more valuable information about behaviors and perceptions than do their answers to questions asked by interviewers.

We’re on the Same Team
To skilled professionals, all of this may sound obvious. The reason for reinforcing these observations lies in the stilted nature of the meeting called an “interview.” The process is greatly improved and more rewarding when all involved decide that this gathering is a familiar, common event. It’s just another garden variety meeting, rather than a hurdle that needs to be crossed. The best exchanges occur when both parties presume they are already working on the same team.

Imagine the changed outcomes if candidates and hiring executives would look forward to greeting friends at the table. With this mindset, there is much to be gained and little to lose. This way, if participants should decide not to proceed forward, at least they will have made a new friend.

And one can never have too many friends.