Many job interviews feel like a verbal jousting match, with company and candidate second-guessing what the other wants.
Many job interviews feel like verbal jousting matches, with the combatants landing blows by exaggerating positive attributes and dodging hits by de-emphasising any negatives.
You can imagine what both parties are thinking.
The jobseeker is thinking: I’ll settle for $100,000 for the perfect job, or a job that starts immediately, but I really want $125,000.
The recruiter is thinking: We’ll go to $125,000 for the perfect person, but we might get away with $100,000 if they’re a bit light on.
If you’ve been involved in recruitment or interview panels even remotely, any of these scenarios are likely to feel familiar.
Jobseeker: I have to sell myself hard, leave that bit out of my CV, and add that bit into it.
Recruiter: I need to play down our macho culture and over emphasise our open communication.
Of course, ultimately, they’re also thinking:
Jobseeker: What does the interviewer want to hear?
Recruiter: What is this person lying to me about, or not telling me about?
And all this is going on while both parties remain heavily armoured with the equivalent of emotional PPE (personal protective equipment) to guard against injury.
It doesn’t sound like a great start to create a perfect fit, does it?
Don’t be part of the great job interview cover-up
It takes immense effort to be so devoted to a two-way cover-up.
To quote Seth Godin in “Toward the honest job interview”, “we could all save a lot of energy if we focussed on finding an actual fit.”
“One person thinks, ‘I have room in my career for just a dozen jobs. Is this one worthy?’
And the other realizes, ‘We could outsource this work, but we’re going to keep it in-house, only if we find the right match. Is it you?’
I fully understand that most people reading this will feel this scenario is nirvana and will never happen. But let’s look at a couple of ways where it could become a reality.
The increasing power of flexible work
With more opportunity for people to deliver services in flexible ways, using casual employment or via their own small business, employers can genuinely consider outsourcing as an alternative to making a rushed, poor permanent hire.
It’s like going on lots of dates, with marriage only being entered into after the right fit is found and there is a better-than-average chance of success.
It won’t work for everyone and it won’t work all the time, but if we can figure out more and better ways to provide and engage services this way and wait for the better fit, perhaps we’ll see more successful employment marriages.
For those times you can’t wait — the power of an independent
Sometimes though, you’ve got a critical open vacancy that you can’t wait too long to fill. Consider using an independent third party — dare I say a good external recruiter — who has proven their ability to put aside the jousting, get to the core of things, and suss out a really good fit.
Managing Director & Principal Executive Search - Mining People International (MPi)
Fellow/National Board Member – Recruitment, Consulting & Staffing Association Aust. & N.Z. (RCSA)