Three Types of Interviews for Job Seekers

September 16th, 2015

In my job search I went to a weekly meeting where they would ask if we did certain things (or, hit certain metrics) for the previous week.  One of the metrics was to have 2 “interviews” each day.

I thought this was kind of ridiculous, because I really didn’t have that much control over whether I was going to get a chance to have and interview or not.  But then, they explained that it could be an “informational interview,” which is something that I did have control over.

Over the years I’ve thought about the types of interviews that a job seeker could have.  Here are the three interviews that every job seeker should know about:

The Formal Job Interview

This is the one that everyone thinks of… a company has an opening, they bring you in, and ask you questions that they just pulled off of google. Whether this is effective or not is questionable, but it’s part of the process.  Sometimes they are checking to see if you are competent, other times they want to meet you in person so they can judge whether you will fit into their organization or not.  Much has been written about succeeding in a formal job interview.

The Informational Interview

This is one of my favorite topics, and a super high-value activity that every job seeker should incorporate into their strategy.  The basic idea is that you ask for 20 to 30 minutes of someone’s time so you can have a conversation with them. You don’t ask for an “informational interview,” and you don’t give them your resume or ask about openings at their company.  The information interview is really networking on steroids… it is very purposeful and tactical, and by doing them correctly, you should see great strides in your job search results.  That is, if you do enough informational interviews well, you should start to see more formal job interviews, and learn about real leads, and get introductions to hiring managers who have openings that are right for you. Sound unreasonable?  I dare you to make informational interviews the bulk of your time.

You can learn how to do effective informational interviews in this course, which you can access for FREE (see how here).

The Informal Interview

The informal interview is what happens every minute of your waking hours.  When you walk in a room, I interview (aka, judge) you.  When you talk to me, I interview (aka, judge) you.  When we are at a restaurant together, I watch how you treat the server.  If you treat the server with respect and dignity, I make a mental note of that.  If you treat the server with disrespect, I judge you and think that you’ll treat others on my team or at my company with disrespect.  When you follow-up with me, I judge you.  If you don’t follow-up with me, I judge you.

See how I changed from “I interview you” to “I judge you”?   I did that on purpose.

I’m not hiring anyone right now.  But I’m always looking for people to be on my team.

Does that make sense?  I don’t have any openings, but if the right person comes along, with the right skills and the right attitude and the right work ethic, I might find a way to get them on my team.  I will move budgets around to get the right person “on the bus,” as Jim Collins wrote in Good to Great.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about… whether this happened or not, it’s highly believable (sorry for the insinuation of potty language, but it’s in context):

The thing is, you don’t have to be so blatantly rude, or off your game, for me to make a decision about you, and whether I want you on my team or not. It really could be something as simple as being at a network meeting or conference, and judging the quality of your question to the presenter.  Or how you spend your time.  Or what you chose to wear.

I don’t want to sound that shallow, but this is reality.  People are constantly judging us.  Some wonder “would I hire this person?” Others wonder “Would I want to work with this person on my team?”

Here’s the clincher: some of the people “interviewing” us are not in a hiring capacity at all.  That church lady who offers to help us… she’ll wonder if she could make an introduction for us, to her friend.  If she judges us to be in a bad place (or rude, or not good enough, etc.), then she might not make the introduction.

So there you go: three interviews that every job seeker should know about.  Now, what are you doing about any of these three?

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