Surviving The Interview

By Scott Keith

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When one is an employer, or a Manager, occasionally, if not frequently, it will be necessary to hire someone. The need to hire a new employee can occur because someone got fired, because someone quit, or simply because it has become necessary to fill a newly created position. The hiring process is almost always the same and inevitably hinges on an interview. Thus, if you would like to get a job someday, you need to learn to interview well.

Over the course of the last two weeks, I have been involved in interviewing no fewer than ten people for four open positions. To be frank, most of these interviews have rated from poor to simply bad. Further, not to pick on my friends in the millennial generation, but most of the interviewees were themselves millennials, and their interviews suffered some of the classic flaws from which millennials tend to suffer. What I offer in the following “Open Letter,” is not an attempt to insult you, or condescend to you, but rather, an attempt to help you. We, hiring managers, bosses, and owners want to hire you. Help us to help you and learn to interview well. So without further ado.

June 11, 2014

Dear Millennial Friends:

I would like to address an issue which, of late, I have observed in your behavior. The problem is quite basic and easily addressed; you interview badly. It’s not that you don’t present well, or that you don’t appear to be professional. It is more basic than that; you have mastered the art of talking profusely without saying anything. In an attempt to assist you, I have composed below a list of “do’s” and “don’ts” for your next interview.

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I will first address the items that fall into the don’t category. First, don’t use endless platitudes to describe which actions you would take when asked a specific question. For instance, if you are asked to list the three main tasks the position for which you are applying ought to perform in order to be considered successful, don’t be vague and precocious. Don’t describe your intentions with meaningless in-speak like “come along side,” or “pour into,” or “lift up.” Second, don’t come into an interview having neglected to read the actual job description of the position for which you are interviewing. Third, don’t think that talking profusely in an interview means that you have nailed it. Finally, avoid long pauses and the oldest trick in the book: “could you repeat that question for me.” It is obvious that you are stalling because you don’t have a good answer.

Now, I will address what you ought to do while in an interview. For instance, if you are asked to list the three main tasks the position, for which you are applying that you ought to perform in order to be considered successful, be specific. Say what you will do.1. You will train your staff. 2.You will implement specific initiatives and programs. 3.You will schedule events. Or this 3.You will return calls and emails, or possibly this 3.You will increase attendance or revenue by performing x, y, or z tasks. Second, read the job description prior to the interview. Get to know not only the job for which you are applying but also the organization for which you intend to work. Inevitably, those interviewing you will ask you questions about both which they expect you to answer. This is basic respect; do your homework. Third, speak less but speak effectively. Professionals are busy people, so respect their time by honing the ability to get to the point. Finally, if you can’t answer a question, be honest. I’m not sure about everyone, but I respect honesty. I would prefer to know where you need training. Confidence with ability is an asset. Overconfidence with a lack of ability equals failure. Help us figure out where you have ability and where you need help by being honest.

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You see, getting a job is about convincing an employer that they need you. You will not accomplish this task by means of the old millennial handbook of vague banalities, condescending relativism, or pie in the sky visions of global happiness. In order to convince an employer that they need you, you need to convince them that the actual and objective skills which you bring to the table will make their organization better. This will only be accomplished if you, just for a moment, think of them and what their needs are. I know it will be difficult to divest yourself from the idea that you are the center of the universe and that they should care about you. Please try to realize… Employers create positions to benefit the organization, not to make you happy. If you are happy in the position they have created, this will be a wonderful side benefit; but it is not the main goal. Please, millennial friends, think about what your prospective employer wants when interviewing, and remember, we want to hire you. Help us to help you!

Kindly,

Scott Keith

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