Friday, June 02, 2006

The Job Interview: Mastering the Art of YOU

In 1996, I responded to a job ad placed in the Dallas Morning News by the Recruiting Manager at AT&T Wireless (Sue Baker). The newspaper ad contained two job postings: Training Manager and Corporate Recruiter.

Enduring Sue’s brutal, hour-long interview atop the toilet in our master bathroom (I swear, it was the quietest room in the house and as far from the toddlers as I could get); I ultimately received an offer for the recruiter position. Steve Stone (whose name stays the same so as not to protect the guilty) got the offer for the Training Manager job.

I’ll forever be grateful to Sue, as she gave me my first shot at corporate recruiting (note to Sue: it’s entirely your fault….look at the monster you’ve created!). And, too, I was fortunate to cross paths with Steve, who became a colleague and friend who provided encouragement to me as I was feeling my way through the developmental years of my recruiting career.

One of the lessons I learned from Steve was directly related to “interviewing.” Steve told me that he made it a common practice to continue interviewing for new opportunities even while happily employed. The reason? He believed that even the best interviewees got better with practice, and that nothing could substitute for the dynamic of the interview process. It sharpens our skills and allows us to master the art of “telling our story.” Steve believed in this process whole-heartedly, and reminded me that I would be grateful for the practice should I ever have the opportunity to interview for the job that I really, really wanted.

I took Steve’s advice to heart. No, I’ve yet to become the President of the United States, but I’ve found my place in a career that I love and in a company whose culture fits me like the comfy rust-colored paisley shirt that my wife tried to throw away 10 years ago.

Steve obviously followed his own advice. Today’s he’s the big-cheese of Learning & Development at one of the largest financial institutions in the world. And none of us are surprised.

So, job-seeker, I offer up to you the advice of a former Training Manager who made it big. Don’t just endure the interview process. Use the experience you gain from each interview to help you master the art of “you.” Make no mistake – the interview is the one thing in life that really is all about you.

Good luck,

Dennis Smith
T-Mobile Recruiting

technorati tags: job search, job interview


Kris said...

So what if you interview and get the job offer? How do you politely decline without saying "I wasn't really interested in the first place I was just practicing my interview skills?"

Dennis Smith said...

Hey Kris - being in the recruiting business, I've had this happen to me so many times over the years, that my perspective is a bit different.

I would suggest that one decline moving forward in the process prior to getting the offer. Should the offer present itself before this happens, I politely decline, letting them know that I have decided it would not be in the best interest of my career development.

Certainly, it would not be wise to do this once/quarter :), but I believe that it's too easy to get "out of practice" if we only participate in the interview process when we "need a job."

Kris said...

Thanks for the advice. I have been out of interview practice for a while and noticed I could have done better in my last interview. Hind sight.

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