Interviewing: Five Considerations before the Interview

By Scot Herrick | Job Search

Dec 27

There is lots of advice out there on being hired. Everything from how to write resumes, network, and research the position. The advice has the range of lousy to superb, but I think a lot of it misses the critical things you need to do when you are going to interview.

Today I’ll take a look at the five things you need to be doing before you ever interview. Next I’ll take a look at what you can do just before and during the interview.

The essence of an interview is that it is all about the unknown trying to become known. Both the company or department doing the hiring is trying to figure out if the person sitting right in front of them will be able to do the work, support the team, and be a good surprise at effectiveness. Since it is relatively rare to be able to hire someone – versus inherit someone or a complete team – hiring is critically important. It is something managers, if they are good ones, want to do right.

And doing it right is removing all of the unknowns possible about the candidate.

Compare that to the position of the candidate. The candidate (you) probably knows very little about what is expected in the position. It’s not like you can count on the job description for more than a cursory look at the position, right? You can’t possibly know what unique qualities the manager is looking for that would sew the position up for you. And you would really have a hard time figuring out if the manager’s quirks – and everyone, manager or not, has them – would drive your quirks crazy just being in the same room.

Remember, at best, you’re only as good as your next manager.

So there are some things you should consistently do regardless of whether or not you are looking to interview right now:

  1. Never burn bridges. One of the people I interviewed and supported hiring is now in a position to hire me (and did). Would have been a bad thing to be jealous of that person’s success now, wouldn’t it?
  2. Always add value in whatever position you are in. I had a manager once that said that getting laid off or not didn’t matter as long as he performed – and could show it – in the positions he held. People want results.
  3. Always be building your skills. Even if you are in a “dead end” position, always be thinking about the next position and what skills you would need to do good work. And if you don’t do number two, you can do all you want in number three and never get a second interview.
  4. You cannot have a disconnect between what you did and what you say you did. The person doing the interview can pick that up a mile away and will drill into it to figure it out. If you are always talking the game but not doing the game in your job, when the time comes to the interview, that will show up.
  5. You will never know who other people know. Consequently, you shouldn’t bad mouth someone and you make sure the performance on the job is there. I interviewed a person and felt a disconnect (see #4 above), saw on the resume that this person worked for a particular company – the same company as one of my former co-workers. I called my former co-worker who knew the person and confirmed my suspicions. Didn’t get hired.

These five items are foundational in that you have to be doing good work in your current position and you have to have the skills for doing the position you are being hired for. If you have performance in your position and skills to do the new one, opportunities will flow your way.

Those get you to the interview. The next post will talk about how to prepare for the interview and what points to remember during the interview.

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About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.