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Fix It Or Forget It?

July 9th, 2010

The interview process isn’t for the thin-skinned.  It takes time, research, repetition and endurance!  Even a difficult or bad interview can – and should – be a learning experience, though.  One way or another, each one is taking you a step closer to getting that job.

Just make certain that it’s the right job.  After all, you don’t want to get something simply to discover that you’ve jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire.  The interview isn’t only for the employer to know more about you.  You should be asking questions to learn more about the employer, as well as the job itself.

This week’s Fix It Or Forget It? tales are about two people’s interview accounts and what they learned from targeted questions they asked during the interview process.

I counseled Shelby* to prepare some specific questions for her interviews, to get a better feel about the environment and the particular position.  One of them that became important to her was “What would you say is the most challenging aspect of this position?”

She had an interview with a non profit organization that scheduled her to meet with a panel of staff members, including the Executive Director.  Things were going fairly well, with each of them asking her various questions that she felt she answered appropriately.  When it came time for her questions, different people were answering them in turn satisfactorily also.  That is, until she asked about “the most challenging aspect” of the job.

“Suddenly, every person on the panel fell silent and turned to look at the Executive Director, almost in deference,” Shelby told me.  “The Executive Director seemed to ponder for a few moments and then responded, ‘Working for me,’ and everyone sort of giggled nervously.  Then he said, ‘I don’t suffer fools easily!’”

Shelby told me that, although the interview continued for another 15 minutes or so, she resolved then and there to Forget It! and would never work for such a person.

“I decided that I would simply use this time as practice for upcoming interviews,” she said.

Tisha* had been getting more interviews lately, and was even among the final two or three candidates; however, in the last two incidents, the organizations had decided on the other candidate instead.  She wondered why this was so – she was so close, yet nearly missed being selected twice now.  As I had coached her to do, she followed up on the interviews by asking for feedback, to see how she might improve her future performance.

Tisha was surprised to learn that, in both cases, the employers said almost the exact same thing:  They were impressed with her experience, but felt that she was so strong in the areas of computers and databases that they feared she would not spend enough face time soliciting key donors and instead spend it mostly on the computer.

This was valuable feedback, and we were able to Fix It! by redesigning Tisha’s resume, so that her donor solicitation skills were better highlighted, while downplaying her computer skills, so that they didn’t overpower other important talents.

Within three months of redesigning her resume, Tisha was hired in a position that utilized all of her expertise.  Her employer was pleased to learn that she had database and computer talents as well, but since that wasn’t the main skill required for the position, it didn’t impede her getting hired as it previously had.

Do you have a Fix It or Forget It? story to share?  Send it to me, and it might help others.  Identifying features will be altered prior to publishing.

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Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
—  Rita Mae Brown

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