That’s right, do not prepare the interview answers for what you may or may not be asked, instead interview your next job. Often times, I have seen candidates treat an interview like it is an examination and to be honest, I am guilty as charged too. Early in my career, there were times when I used to predict questions I was going to be asked and then prepare for them. I used to write answers down and memorize them in certain cases. But somehow, through the years, the way I started to approach interviews has evolved and there have been some marked changes. Instead of rehearsing answers in my head or reading articles about common interview questions and smart answers, I took the proverbial “road less traveled!” I decided to interview my next job instead. I started asking questions about how a job fits in with my short and long-term goals and began to get my hands on any information I could find about the company I was interviewing with. Just as a company would put me (a potential hire) under the microscope, I started to put the company and the job under a microscope too – in short, I was interviewing my next job.
Here’s a disclaimer; interviewing your next job calls for more effort than just preparing interview answers to specific questions. It means studying a company’s internal and external environments, the organization’s structure, its financial health, getting behind the existing processes and much more. As a candidate, you most definitely need to look at the company’s culture and long-term goals too. The exercise is not just for fresh-faced candidates new to the job market, I know a few C-Level executives who have a systematic approach to interviewing their next job! This is where journalism’s popular five “W’s” and the all-important “H” come into play. Transform yourself into a journalist/reporter, prod and ask “why”, “what”, “where”, “who”, “when” and “how,” during the process of interviewing your next job. This makes all the difference. Like most exercises that require great effort, the reward too is great for this exercise.
Here are some hefty rewards you can reap from interviewing your next job:
Get better clarity
By interviewing your next job, you gain a better understanding of several aspects. I find that many candidates who come in for interviews lack clarity as to why they want a job, how they see their career panning out within an organization or if they actually even want the job. Even if an opportunity matches your skillset, your ambitions and expected compensation, you could discover that you may not be a good fit for the company’s culture. This is where you need to address “how” you would be working on a day-to-day basis and if the job in question will really make you happy.
Learn about the industry
When you interview you next job, you learn about both the company you are applying to and about the industry as a whole. The onus is on you to understand the internal and external environments of an organization. Do a SWOT and PEST analysis of the company. This way, you are not just preparing for the interview with one company, but many more opportunities within your chosen industry. By the end of this exercise you will be more knowledgeable and as the old saying goes, “knowledge is power.”
Expertly tackle questions and ask them too
Now that you have equipped yourself with the right kind of information to tackle the interview, you are ready to shine. My guess is that you can expertly handle most questions directed toward you and for the ones that you do not know the answer to, there is no shame in telling your interviewer that you will get back with the answers later. As your interviewer is done questioning you, the floors now open up for you to shine some more. Here comes the clichéd “do you have any questions?” part. Thanks to your research, you do not have to think hard about the questions you want to ask or ask irrelevant questions because you already know what to ask!
Stand out from the crowd
For any given job, I guarantee you that you are not the sole candidate appearing for the interview – there would have been other candidates interviewed before you and there would be many more who will be interviewed after you leave the room. So use all the knowledge you gained while interviewing your job and go on to wow your interviewers. Having interviewed candidates numerous times, there is nothing I like better than a candidate who stands out by sharing thought-provoking answers and by asking questions that challenge me. It tells me that the candidate is proactive and is also serious about his/her career.
Take the pressure off
As you interview your next job, you reduce the pressure that comes from preparing for specific questions. Picture a situation when you have prepared the answers to a list of questions but are asked something completely different during the interview. In most cases, you could hit the panic button, may need to think on your feet or may not come across as well-prepared. Preparing for an interview is more organic and less forced when you interview your next job.
Now that I have outlined some of the benefits that come from interviewing your next job, watch out for my post on How to effectively interview your next job. And if I haven’t made myself clear already, here’s stating my original point – do not prepare the answers for your next interview!
Edwin Miller, the CEO of 9Lenses, is an accomplished four-time CEO recognized as both a growth and a turnaround thought leader. He has proven his skills of leadership, motivation and business model assessment and creation in both both the public and private theaters. He has successfully transformed domestic and international organizations through both organic and acquisitive means. His experience spans many different technological, horizontal and vertical markets.
Edwin has authored 9Lenses Insight to Action:A Social Approach to Business Optimization and Snapshot9 What’s Your Picture?:Accelerate Your Business Performance. Click here to download the first chapter of 9Lenses Insight to Action for free!