Your Emotional State
On top of these new issues in the interviewing and hiring workplace, you, as a candidate, still have to confront the age-old issue that looking for a job is an emotionally difficult thing to do. Having to find a job, whether you have one or you are looking full-time, is an emotional strain. Next to death of a spouse, death of a parent, death of a child, coupled with divorce, looking for a job is the fourth most emotionally stressful thing we do. Today, more so than in any other time in our history, even though the economy is on healthy recovery, research shows that you as an individual are very insecure about keeping your present job. If you have a job, you are scared that if you lost it, you couldn't replace it at the same level.
No matter how often a person looks for a job, it is still emotionally stressful. People are usually scared and frightened. I discuss this state in detail in my book The Job Search Solution, but suffice it to say here that when people are frightened, scared, and emotionally distressed, they won't interview well unless they are prepared for the shock.
When it comes to answering interview questions in this state, unless a candidate thoroughly prepares and practices, there is a great likelihood that this emotional unease will be revealed and thereby destroy any chance at a good interviewing process. When people are in such an emotional state, they have a tendency to focus on their own needs and forget that their goal in the interviewing process is to sell themselves to a perspective employer. They have to focus on what they can do for the potential employer rather than what the employer can do for them.
When people are emotionally stressed, they usually want to focus on their own needs, rather than on the needs of someone else. They often forget that, in order to get a job offer, they have to focus on how they can solve the hiring authority's problem—his or her needs, not those of the candidate.
I would emphasize that one of the purposes of this book is to prepare you for the emotional strain of looking for a job that is reflected in the interviewing process, especially in answering and asking questions. If a candidate answers and asks questions in a nervous, self-centered, fearful manner, he or she simply won't get hired.
There are many ways to deal with the emotional strain of interviewing, but one of the most important things that an individual can do will be emphasized in this book and that is to practice for the interviewing process so well that fear is minimized, if not eliminated. If you practice the answers to the questions in this book and understand the real reason that certain questions are being asked, the emotional strain of the interviewing will be minimized.
Likewise, if you are prepared to ask the right kind of questions about an opportunity, at the right time, the probabilities of making a mistake in taking a job will be minimized. Again, asking these kinds of questions takes practice. Candidates are so often anxious about getting a job offer and possibly losing or taking one that they often forget to ask the right questions, even if they know them. This book will keep that from happening to you.
Paradox of Interviewing
There is a great paradox of interviewing that has become even more prominent over the last few years. Just recognizing this paradox is going to put you one step ahead of your competition. The paradox is simply this: You are going to interview and are being interviewed for a position as though the position was one you are going to be at for the rest of your career.
It is very rare for any hiring authority or hiring organization to admit that it's going to hire you or anyone else for a two-and-a-half- or three-year period of time. Most organizations would be better off to admit the average tenure of the individuals in the particular groups in their organization—i.e., accounting, engineering, sales, and so on—and interview people with that kind of time span in mind. In other words, they should be asking themselves, "What could this person contribute within the two-and-a-half- to three-year period of time she will be here?" But I've run into very few hiring authorities or hiring organizations that will interview in this manner.
So, you are going to interview for each position as though it is going to be for a "forever" relationship. But you know and I know and your hiring authority knows that's not very likely. This is one of the illusions to the interviewing process and one of the reasons that it is a staged-contrived event, which I will discuss a little more in another chapter.
The importance of the transiency of the new position that you might take is this: Since you are probably not going to build a "career" at your next job, you'd better view your next position as a "building block" for your career. In other words, you have to be asking yourself in the interviewing process, to the best of your ability, "Does this job build upon the experience that I have had before? Is it going to enhance the experience that I've had before? If I get two and a half years of this kind of experience, can I leverage it in the future?"
Now, these kinds of questions, especially the one about leveraging the new job in the future, are going to be very hard to answer. The business environment, as I will explain in the next chapter, is more erratic than it is ever been and it isn't going to change. So, knowing what you can do to leverage the experience of a new job may be very difficult to predict. But you need to be asking yourself that question.
If you've been out of work for the last six months and you manage to get a job offer, this issue may not be as important to you. But, with the expansion of the job market, you will hopefully have more than one or two potential job offers. So one of the questions that you have ask yourself (a question that people have not had to ask in previous generations) is, "Is the job that I have been offered a positive continuation of the experience that I've had, and will I be able to leverage it for a better opportunity for to build my career two and a half to three years from now?"
The answer to this question may make the difference in the job offer that you may take. No one is ever going to be able to predict the future accurately, but you need to get some sense of "where can I go with this experience later on when I change jobs again?" There will be some job opportunities that you may get that will be better for you in this regard.
So, the paradox of the interviewing has a great implication on your career. Simply take it into account and be mindful of it.
How These Things Affect You
What all this means to you is very simple. You need a job or you need to change jobs. But the process and decision making used during your job search and interviewing processes is a lot more complicated than it is ever been.
Even though the job market is expanding and there are more job opportunities than there have been in the past few years, it is likely that you will change jobs more often than you ever imagined. You are more afraid of losing the job you have, if you have one. You are insecure about being able to replace the one you have if you have to leave it or you lose it. Your competition over the next few years will be people from four different generations of workers. You're going have to try to build your career on a number of different jobs with a number of different companies. And, on top of all of this, you still have to deal with the emotional distress and disease of finding a job . . . again and more often than you like.
You need to be better prepared for every interview. Knowing how to deal with the toughest interview questions as well as asking the most important interview questions for your own protection are crucial to your job search success.