The Interview: Learn the role and imagine yourself in it

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The job cycle’s interview stage parallels the dating stage of a relationship. Couples learn about one another, imagine themselves in a more permanent partnership and address any difficulties that surface. Interviews should excite us like dating because they afford us the opportunity to discover more and hope for future professional opportunities.

In the last post, we addressed the inquiry stage of the job cycle aimed at learning enough about the job to accept an interview. This research convinced you to proceed into the next step of the process. Similarly, in a romantic relationship, after the initial attraction, you gathered information about them that compelled you to go on a date. Unlike a blind date, few employers offer blind interviews!

As you begin the interview process, remember the learning really begins now. When you date, you come to understand a person’s habits, mannerisms and quirks. During the interview, human qualities play out in a professional context; these qualities help you make a decision about moving ahead. While on interviews, you should seek out information on your prospective role, team and company.

First, you need to learn the role beyond the job description. What other things about this opportunity peak your interest? How do you want to shape the role for yourself with your unique experiences and talents? What responsibilities should the ideal candidate devote most of their time to? How can the candidate who fills this role contribute in the most meaningful way and drive results in the company? You can leverage the manger’s answers to assess your fit for the role. Remember, most job descriptions do not tell the whole story about a job. The interview allows you to peel back every layer and understand more about the role.

Second, your teammates matter at work. Hopefully, you meet them during the interview process. I would specifically ask to if not presented with the opportunity. On the team, you need to know what is the day-to-day dynamic like? Who do you report to? Who do you collaborate with to fulfill your duties? This practical information forms a clearer picture of the role; however, besides the nitty gritty stuff, you need to understand yourself to make a good decision. What does that mean? You must know what you need from teammates to succeed.

A few years ago, my team completed a DISC Training. We each took an hour long questionnaire prior to working with a team building instructor. The questions asked us about different human situations and how we would respond. From those answers, the test gauged how we thought and what kind of support we needed as individuals. After the exercise, we understood one another in ways that enhanced our collaboration. While you do not have the opportunity to do a DISC-like program with your prospective colleagues, look for triggers that may indicate how you might work together. How do you interact? Can you enjoy each person’s company for at least 40 hours each week? I think of a common adage that says, “you’re qualified if you have the interview. The interview measures your relatability and how much they like you, as a person.” As the hiring manager makes a decision about you as a candidate, you make a decision about them.

Last, you need to consider the company. What fuels their office culture? Why do their employees get up each day and go to work? How might you fit within and shape that culture in your new role? Answering these questions help you access what we call the “cultural fit.” People often overcomplicate these words when thinking about the application process. These three questions can guide you as you think about the prospective company.

In dating, each partner looks for telltale signs. They find things they like and things they wish were different. In your interview process, keep your mind open to discover more about the role and ask yourself if you can commit to it either as a contractor or full-time employee.

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