The Transition from Interviewer to Interviewee
The business world has taken quite a hit over these past few months and as a result, many people have experienced major shifts in their professional lives - position scope alterations, sudden lack of security, job loss. These types of changes have shaken lives and families everywhere and many professionals have found themselves thrown into a career search process they did not anticipate needing or wanting. As we round what is hopefully the corner that leads us away from the center of chaos and onto the road of recovery, dust will begin to settle, but the navigation of uncharted business territory is by no means an easy one. The question “what now?” is looming above us all.
We want to take a moment to speak directly to executives and hiring managers who are facing the sudden shift from interviewer to interviewee. At first glance it may appear to someone on the outside that people with the most management experience - people who hire employees on a regular basis - would have the easiest time going through an interview process themselves. But we know from years of experience in the executive realm that this is by no means the case. Sitting in the “hot seat” is much different than holding the decision-making power.
Maybe you are one of those people. You have been in the business world for 20+ years. You have interviewed countless people yourself. But now you are on the other side of the table as the interviewee, and suddenly the process doesn’t seem as easy as it did last time you were the one asking the questions.
Before you get overwhelmed, we want to offer you some encouragement. As executive recruiters, we work with hundreds of professionals who are to some extent in a transition phase or at least considering one. And very rarely do we come across someone, regardless of their level of experience, who feels completely confident before, during and after an interview.
We know the concept of slowing down, especially as pressure rises, is likely as counterintuitive for you as it is for us. But pause for just a moment here and consider the following because we're willing to bet you are more equipped to navigate this season than you may think you are:
We have all driven through fog before. There are few things as frustrating or scary as not being able to see where we are going. For a new driver who has never driven in fog before, it might seem like the obvious thing to do in that situation is to turn on the high beams. It would seem logical that brighter lights would help visibility. But that is not the case - hence why we have fog lights.
With that in mind, let’s take a step back and look at your career options from a similar perspective. We can all agree the road ahead is cloudy, so let’s turn off the high-beams and turn on the fog lights. You might just be surprised at what is, and what is not, a reflection of your desirability as a candidate and your ability to get through this next phase of the journey. You have come this far for a reason -your setbacks, your successes, lessons learned and those you have taught. All of the latter counts for more than just something.
Tips, Truths and Tactics for The Interviewer Turned Interviewee
- Spend less time trying to come up with ways to sell yourself and more time reflecting on all of the experience you have. At this point in your career, you are bringing a suitcase full of lessons, successes and failures, perspectives, all unique to your background. Allow yourself to digest everything you have experienced throughout your career. That is how you get in touch with the genuine value you have to offer the right company.
- Think through your personal traits, both learned and natural, that have allowed you to get where you are today. Perhaps you are gifted in being able to see the perspective of the people you work with. Maybe perseverance comes naturally to you and it’s never been a question of “if,” but rather “how?” There are characteristics and choices that have been repeatedly influential throughout your success, potentially more so than you even realize. Listening skills. Strategic intuition. Emotional intelligence. Make a list.
- Consider interviews you have conducted on the other side of the table. What did you like? What did you dislike? Why did you choose the employee you hired? Why did you turn down the one you didn’t?
- Don’t shy away from past failures. Everyone falls short sometimes. A key demonstration that distinguishes great leaders from the rest is the choice to identify, admit and learn from failure. That process is the core of continuous improvement. Having the confidence to share how a past mistake has helped shape the way you currently perceive and approach leadership is not only respectable, it also shows you are willing to grow.
- It sounds cliché to say “be yourself,” but there is actually a lot of relief in the truth of that concept. You don’t want to step into a position that isn’t a great fit for you. The time between losing a job and finding your next one can be scary, but it’s also a time that can be used to regroup and decide exactly what you want and where you fit best moving forward. This is a chance to start fresh - an unexpected one, but an opportunity nonetheless and with that comes the possibility that what is waiting on the other end may be better than you expected. Maybe even better than where you were before.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for tips. There is no shame in asking someone you trust or someone like a recruiter who lives and breathes the interview world for tips on how to ace one. Especially if you are meeting with a client of a particular recruiting firm, their insight can be invaluable and make or break the impression you leave.
As you enter this new season, give your experience, intuition and unique attributes some credit. You may feel a little bit out of tune. But you are not trying to create an instrument from scratch here – the tuning is more than doable when you have the music-maker in front of you.
Voted as one of America’s Best Executive Recruiting Firms (Forbes, 2020), FGP has a large team of seasoned Executive Recruiters who specialize in a variety of industries and skillsets. We would be more than happy to provide you with some guidance. Feel free to reach out to us at any point at firstname.lastname@example.org. We believe in you, it's time for you to believe in yourself!