Career Changing Advice: How Not To Interview

I’m not a great interviewer for one basic reason: I root too hard for the interviewee.  I want to figure out how to make it work – “how can I help make your work life better?” – that’s a good mission for someone providing career guidance but perhaps not the best approach for someone running a company and responsible for hiring people for the company’s well-being. 

So, it is rare that I find myself really not liking someone who is interviewing for one of my companies (Career Counseling Connecticut is a subsidiary of The Learning Consultants). But, that was the case recently.  I share so that readers can understand how not to interview.

The interviewee – we’ll call her Linda – had contacted me through a common connection in order to apply for a position with The Learning Consultants.  We get several dozen applicants per month.  I simply do not have the time to interview more than a couple of people.  Linda’s strong background plus her contact put her on this month’s list.

Linda started the interview by asking me “what benefits will I get if I work for your company”. Linda is a free-lancer so could continue to work independently.  I politely tried to redirect the conversation to get to know Linda better and to understand how we would sort out the thorny issue of her independent work since there would be an overlap of clients. Linda wanted to get back on track regarding what she could get from the company.  

The process repeated itself a couple of times. I gently and then more firmly tried to redirect Linda to address the question of how we would be able to figure out our working relationship. Linda would redirect the conversation to “what’s in it for me?”

Finally, I spoke to her directly.  ”Most people who get an interview express their interest in The Learning Consultants and how they would contribute to the company.  I fully understand why you are interested in how we could contribute to you but unless you want to be part of our team and contribute to us – as opposed to simply getting something from our company – then I don’t think this is the right fit.” 

When you next interview, discuss what you can do for the company, not the other way around. That’s how to interview.