Turn the Tables – Be the Interviewer, Not the Interviewee
Congratulations! You’ve graduated. So now what?
Whether you join the workforce, pursue higher education or re-evaluate your career path, you will likely go on an interview or two in order to take the next step. From my experience, both as an interviewee and interviewer, the most important thing you can do is treat the interview as a “Personal Fit Assessment Checklist.”
Fresh out of college, my interview experience was a comedy of errors. I had no idea what type of job I wanted. I majored in accounting because I found it to be the most challenging program at my university, and upon graduation I needed a job to pay back my student loans.
I scheduled interviews with every “Big Eight” accounting firm my senior year during spring break week. Fun, right? I bought a new suit and went to the big city for a week of back-to-back interviews.
After a morning of trying to sound intelligent, I went out to a fancy restaurant for lunch with the interviewing partner. I made the mistake of ordering French onion soup. The questions he asked were challenging, but what made the interview difficult was trying to talk with a mouth full of thick, hot cheese.
That’s how all the interviews went that week – awkward and misguided.
As evidenced by the above, I did it all wrong when I started. My career path was a process of discovery with a few hard left turns. Looking back, I wish I had graduated college feeling confident that my career path was aligned with my strengths and passions.
Years later, I met with a good friend of mine, Marcus Harwood, who works in the field of Intellectual Diversity. We discussed the unfortunate statistic that nearly 70% of all workers hate their jobs. After reflecting on my interview process coming out of college and on my discussion with Marcus, I decided to “assist” my then-high school children. I hired Marcus’ firm, OND LLC, to take my kids through a process (called Method Teaming®) of discovering their strengths and passions.
You can imagine how “thrilled” two high-schoolers were when I told them they were required to spend a weekend going through a battery of psychometric profiles and personal interviews. We actually went through the process as a family, and the outputs were phenomenal! We each learned our strengths and weaknesses, what we love and what we are naturally gifted for. This clarity gave our kids greater confidence going into college, and it helped all of us pursue our paths with greater focus, energy and commitment.
Many interview tips focus on you getting ready to be interviewed. However, in my opinion, it is more important for you to be prepared to do the interviewing.
Take charge of your life: become the interviewer, not the interviewee!
You need to come out of your interview process having asked all the right questions that are pertinent to you to determine if the job you are interviewing for is the right fit for you. The following is my recommended Personal Fit Assessment Checklist:
Does this job inspire me?
I know this sounds rather obvious, but the only way to avoid becoming part of the 70% of workers who don’t like their job is to do something you love. The way to do something you love is to know what you like and dislike.
Working with OND, my kids were able to develop a list of questions that helped them determine if the work they were interviewing for would inspire them.
Please don’t just gloss over this one. Work is work, but I strongly believe your job can be inspirational. Take Brian Kaemingk. Brian works in EY Advisory’s Digital Analytics practice and is committed to building a better working world. As a high performer, Brian was selected to partake in the EY-Earthwatch Ambassadors Program. Participants travel to countries in Latin America to provide skills-based volunteer services to local businesses and engage in dynamic scientific field research. After returning to the US, Brian wanted to give back even more! He engaged one of his teams in a full-day data hackathon for the Earthwatch Institute. Brian is a great example of a professional that has figured out how to align his personal passions with his work.
What are you passionate about? What inspires you? Consider these questions and align them with the field you would like to pursue. And go to the “interview” ready to seek answers.
Does this job align with me?
I am good at a few things and bad at a lot of things. If you are honest with yourself, you may realize the same is true for you. It is no secret that we enjoy doing things we excel at, and avoid those that are challenging or we have failed at in the past.
Take time to assess your strengths. Based on how you are wired, ask plenty of questions to ensure that the specific work you will be asked to do will maximize your strengths. If not, do something else. I don’t care how much money they offer you; it will not end well. It simply isn’t worth doing something that you’re not good at (or want to get better at), you don’t enjoy or are not passionate about. Accepting such a position definitely falls into the “life is too short” category!
Does this job support me?
Years ago, a friend of mine encouraged me to interview with his employer. I met with a stuffy senior executive in a stale company and was subjected to a technical “root canal.” It was an awfully uninspiring interview. The interviewer never once showed any interest in me, nor did he provide an opportunity for me to ask my list of Personal Fit Assessment Checklist questions. Later, the HR team seemed puzzled when I told them I had zero interest in continuing conversations with their company.
Every job has a supporting “environment.” Some have no travel. Others require a lot of travel. I find it fascinating that the people who want to travel aren’t, and the people who don’t want to travel are. Some environments are entrepreneurial. Others are more steady and hierarchical. Some companies fully embrace diversity and inclusion. Others do so only from a purely statistic-tracking perspective. The environment you work in matters a lot, and the interview is a time to seek answers to help determine if the environment is right for you – and you for it.
As you engage the company you are interviewing with, how does it feel? One of our recruiters recently asked me to do an “urgent” interview. I did a video chat with the candidate as he walked down the streets of Disneyland with his family. Accommodating his schedule was a very small thing to me (other than having to listen to “It’s a Small World” over and over in the background), but he commented that it spoke volumes to him about the “EY environment.”
Spend a great deal of time assessing the environment you will be working in to help ensure that the company and its culture feel like the right fit for you.
Interviews are a keen opportunity to address and better understand what you want out of your career. Don’t make the mistakes I made. Don’t fret with preparing to be interviewed hoping you get the job. Use my Personal Fit Assessment Checklist to take charge of your career search. Make sure before you accept a job that your passions, knowledge and experiences are aligned with the organization’s purpose and ambitions. Interviewing is not about settling or accepting, but about taking steps forward to maximize your professional adventure.
Turn the tables – be the interviewer, not the interviewee!
About the author: Bob Patton is the EY Americas Vice Chair of Advisory Services. He has extensive experience working with Fortune 500® companies in the consumer products, utilities and high-tech industries, as well as experience working with key public sector organizations. In 2011, Bob was recognized byConsulting® magazine as one of its Top 25 consultants, honored in the category of Excellence in Leadership. In addition to his LinkedIn profile, you can also interact with Bob on his Twitter account @BobPattonEY.
Contact John Assunto for all of your Education Recruiting needs! Johna@worldbridgepartners.com or 860-387-0503