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By on June 3, 2014

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Two-Way Street

It seems as though I’m hearing more and more of hiring managers “grilling” candidates in what amounts to a “one-way” interview. Why do they do this? Because they can!  Most career seekers allow themselves to be throttled into answering a barrage of difficult questions which often have little to do with the task at hand. This is not a two-way street!

The state of the economy continues to reflect a buyers market. And thus companies believe that candidates need consider themselves lucky to get an audience with an employer and privileged to receive an offer. What about the needs of the person applying for the job?

In order for one to begin any new assignment with the proper attitude, there needs to be a give and take during the process. From a management standpoint a new employee should feel as though they can make a difference. At the very least the new hire should be given the impression that their future efforts will contribute to the overall success of the business endeavor. A positive sign can be displayed initially by an interviewer allowing the prospective employee the opportunity to pursue a particular line of questioning during the meeting. In other words utilize a sort of “two-way street” philosophy. Sadly however this is a rare occurrence.

What is the Two-Way Street Philosophy?

While it’s true though that the company representative is obliged, at least for the first half of the session, to derive the competency of an individual with his or her line of questioning, it just doesn’t have to be an interrogation.

If positioned correctly your value-add to an organization must become evident during that portion of the interview. But in order to determine if you would care to pursue discussions with the company, you’ll need to get your questions in during the second half.

How can this objective be achieved while being pasted with unanswerable questions or worse a potentially unskilled interviewer who relishes listening to him or herself talk?

Fear not career seekers – I have the solution! At the perceived halfway point in the proceedings subtly open your business folder. Stay with me on this. While preparing to meet a hiring manager, print a list of questions that you need answered to your satisfaction in order to consider that company the next stop in your career. (I know a novel concept!)  Make sure the font is large enough for them to notice and also leave ample room for notes just beneath.

Unless the person is totally oblivious to the circumstances, he or she should observe your action and, recognizing the bold print, hopefully apologize for monopolizing the time and turn it over to you for questions. Now you’ve got them!

Having done ones homework, an astute planner will probe to determine needs and ultimately, if taking copious notes, address those needs while summarizing past accomplishments and closing for the next interview.

Now what about those hiring authorities that don’t return phone calls? You know the ones that live on a one-way street. Understanding that in my practice I coach individuals BEYOND NETWORKING™ directly through to decision makers; it is a staple of my regimen that phone contact and not the sending of a resume is a precursor to finding that next logical career opportunity sooner rather than later. But increasingly, people in the position of hiring show very little in the way of common courtesy with reciprocating the effort. Sign of the times…maybe. Discourteous…absolutely!

Career seekers must endure the discomfort of following up relentlessly until reaching the goal of actually speaking to “the boss.” But as my colleague Jeffrey J. Fox, who penned the best-seller “Don’t Send a Resume: And Other Contrarian Rules to Help Land a Great Job” states; “average job seekers do what other average job seekers do…that is send resumes and hope someone calls. Above average job seekers get to decision makers and convey what it is they can do to make an impact on their business.”

As a component of my two-way street philosophy, it is my intention to coach clients that it is common courtesy, not even professional courtesy, to return a focused business call. And that’s what it needs to be…focused on returning on the investment of hiring them. I ask my clients if they truly wish to work for someone who ignores their calls. It suggests a lack of respect. Again if the caller explains the reason for the call and sells the listener on the attributes he or she can bring to the table and it makes good business sense, then why would they not return the call?

It’s a given that when intelligent professionals are confronted with a well thought out business presentation, he or she will more often than not return the courtesy and possibly grant you an audience. It’s hoped that recognizing a potentially sound offering has something to do with how they got where they are.  So it goes a long way to determining if you want to be employed by someone who doesn’t reciprocate the courtesy.

I submit that even if one is at the desperation stage, they should not waste their time with discourteous individuals. Cross them of your list…they’re not a prospect!

In summary don’t allow someone to drive the bus on the way to your next logical opportunity. Take control and steer your own course to a rewarding new career. Refuse to take that one-way street. Take the extra effort and map a plan to travel only those roads that provide for two-way traffic…that highway will be paved with success and you’ll be much the better off for doing so.

Photo Credit: PedroJPerez

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