Monday, February 13, 2012

Five Tips to Empower Yourself During the Interview

by Dawn Rasmussen

Eureka! Let’s say you’ve finally landed an interview, did all the research on the target company, and are now sitting in the hot seat, being grilled about your background from a panel of prospective bosses.

Who is exactly in control here? Did you guess the employer?

You BOTH are in control.
Most job applicants mentally hand over all the power in a job search to the prospective employer, being that they (the employer) has something that the candidate wants (the job). It’s easy to think that the target company is the sole decision maker as to whether they hire that person or not.

This is a dangerous attitude to take, because in essence, you are effectively handing over the power of the situation to someone else, when in fact, you equally hold the reins.

If you have carefully managed your career, are confident in your abilities and what it is that you offer to the employer, you also have control in the interview room just as much as the employer. Flip the dynamics around, and suddenly, you are the industry subject matter expert who is top in your field, and what you offer is exactly what the employer is seeking (perhaps even desperately so).

Interviews are a two-way street. You are interviewing the interviewer as well, so here are five essential tips to keep yourself in the driver’s seat along with the employer, when it comes to the balance of power during an interview (well, without being you becoming too over-confident, of course!):

1) Respect Yourself, Just as you Respect the Employer
If the person or people interviewing you aren’t showing you the same amount of respect that you’d expect, write an “X” against the employer. Just like you, the employer’s representatives should be on their best behavior during the interview. Think of this as the ‘courtship’ phase when everything should be all ‘go’ and not any ‘no!’ Don’t like how they are treating you? It’s a sure sign that worse things are yet to come.

2) Test for Chemistry
Just as there are good bosses out there, there are also bad bosses. We’ve seen them. Control freaks, neurotic messes, people with anger issues… they are all out there. The question is: are they sitting in front of you in an interview? I was once interviewing at a large corporation where the HR person (!!!) told me that the CEO that I was going to be directly reporting to had extreme anger issues and treated staff horribly. Then the HR person asked how I would handle that. At that point, I decided I didn’t want to. Who needs that lying on your doorstep every day?? If it isn’t a fit, walk away. You’ll save yourself from ulcers, high blood pressure, and a miserable existence. Sure, it could be the job you’ve always wanted, but at what cost?

3) Watch the Interview Team for Clues on Team Dynamics
If you are in a panel interview, or have successive follow-up interviews, examine how the team communicates. Is there camaraderie? Are they having fun? Or are they sour, droll, or beaten down? Clues to the team dynamic can also give you a heads up on the corporate culture.  I remember during one interview many years ago that there were several people on the panel who seemed rather combative. Fortunately, I had done my research and found out that the organization had been suffering from a lot of external politics, and the observation of these folks in the interview verified this revelation which came from an inside source. I weighed everything after the interview, and that was the determining factor of why I chose not to accept the position. Again, if they were fighting in the interview, what kind of toxic work environment would I be getting myself into??

Tips 4-5 and Complete Article

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