Every once in a while, I get asked to interview with an organization doing similar work to the work I do in my independent consulting practice. The ask typically goes like this, “We know you love the work you’re doing, but would you ever consider doing it under our umbrella?” And while I LOVE the work I get to do, the truth is, I’ve said “yes” on occasion to interviewing with other organizations doing meaningful work in similar spaces.
Here’s why . . . because I learned this helpful paradox a long time ago—to pursue my dreams with clarity, focus, and confidence, and at the same time, hold life with open hands. Meaning, do the work you love to do as long as you have the opportunity to do it but pay attention to when it’s time for a change. I also think saying “yes” to the occasional interview process helps all of us stay mentally sharp, allows us to stay curious about what other leaders and organizations are up to, and gives us the opportunity to put our own work to the test by forcing us to reexamine, do we really love the work we’re doing—and does it show?
So I’ve found myself in the interview chair on occasion over the past few years. And some of the feedback after those interviews has gone something like this:
- “Asks too many questions”
- “Didn’t have enough time to get to all of my questions for her”
- “Felt like she was interviewing us instead of us interviewing her”
ME: I was a bit shocked by some of this feedback. There’s definitely a lesson to be learned at my end on how to navigate the interview process successfully, and how to find the delicate balance of asking questions and answering questions within the allotted interview time frame. Did I have room to grow in the interviewing process? YES.
THEM: But what shocked me the most was the overwhelming theme of surprise at the interviewer’s end that I would want to ask questions during the interview, too.
Here’s why: because I believe INTERVIEWING GOES BOTH WAYS.
So, whether you’re looking for a new hire, or looking to be hired, here are a few helpful interviewing tips I learned along the way:
- Understand the person you’re interviewing may have questions of their own.
- If they do, let them know ahead of time they will have an opportunity to ask those questions at a later point in the interview, then give at least 5-10 minutes for their questions.
- If they don’t, ask them what questions they have about the organization or the process.
- HINT: If they don’t ask any questions, that might be your first clue as to whether or not they will be a good fit for your org or your team. Asking questions shows an eagerness to learn.
- Let the person interviewing you know that you have a few questions to ask them when it’s appropriate to do so.
- Let them know you care about finding the right fit for you just as much as you care about being told you’re the right fit for the job, the team, or the organization.
- Prioritize your questions, that way if you’re short on time, you get a chance to ask your most important questions first.
- HINT: If they don’t give you the chance to ask any questions during the interview process, it’s okay to ask for the chance to ask questions before saying “yes” to a job offer.
Do you have a story to share about your own interview process? If so, I’d love to hear it: firstname.lastname@example.org