Friday, January 11, 2013

An Interviewing Lesson Learned The Hard Way

I prepare for job interviews by creating a packet of information. Included in this packet are the job posting, questions I anticipate being asked and how I want to answer them, a long list of additional interview question, and finally the questions I want to ask the interviewers during the interview.  This packet becomes both my source for preparation for the interview and the document I can use to take notes during the interview process.  I will get into more detail about the nuts and bolts of this packet later but before I do I need to relay a story to you about it and a recent lesson I learned, several lessons actually.

I once interviewed for a position I didn't get. Actually, truth be told, I've interviewed for a few positions I didn't end up getting. Happens to the best of us right? For this particular position, I prepared my packet as usual and used it throughout the interview process. When I ended up not getting the position I tossed the interview packet into one of my numerous piles of paper at home and several weeks, months, or years later, I'm not sure how long it was, I threw the packet away. My thinking was that I tried, gave it my best shot, didn't get it, and thus I'm never going to need the packet about that job again because it's clear that I am not right for the position. After all, if I was right, they would have hired me.

Low and behold, time passes and fate being as it is I end up interviewing for this same position some time later. That packet of information and especially the notes I took during the previous interview process would have been an invaluable resource to me as I prepped for this new interview process for the same position. Typically, I take notes during and after each interview not only on what the interviewers say but also on how the conversations went, questions I was asked that I wasn't expecting and new information about the position I didn't know. I would have done anything to lay my hands on that first packet again to review how the interview process went the first time.

The lessons here are many. To name a few:

  • Save your interview prep materials! Create a file and drop them in it after every interview. Not only will you start building a reservoir of interview questions and answers but you'll also be preserving valuable preparation materials that you won't have to waste time recreating each time you prepare to interview.
  • You never know where your career is going to take you. I never in a million years thought I'd be interviewing for this position a second time.
  • Don't jump to conclusions when you don't get a job. There could be any number of reasons why they chose someone else over you. We assume it's because we aren't qualified because at the time we feel rejected and jump to the conclusion that we must not be that great at what we do. But really, it could be anything.
  • Don't be afraid to put your hat in the ring again even if you didn't get the position the first time. Yes, I know it's hard to do, trust me! But our careers are like the lottery: you simply can't win unless you play the game.

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