Friday, February 18, 2011

Interview Dictionary: Stand-Out in Your Phone Screen

It takes attending about two "Interviewing Workshops" to tire of hearing the standard schpeel on why it's important to research the company you are interviewing with. "Go to the website," they tell you. "Read recent news articles." I understand why they tout these practices at a one-sized-fits-all workshop; after all, I am guessing many companies of all sizes tire of bringing in interview candidates who clearly have not even made the effort to learn more about their business or products. When you're interviewing for competitive positions, however, if it isn't obvious that you should thoroughly research the company before interviewing, you have MUCH bigger problems than attending a bland interview workshop. 

I think what frustrates me most about the typical workshop, it they often seem to sell that the ways you can "set yourself apart" are by researching the 
company or having more verbs on your resume. Shouldn't these requirements be the obvious baseline assumption to begin with? To get a chance at the most competitive stuff, you need more.
There will be a whole series of postings with interview tips. This one will focus on setting yourself apart during the phone screen, by making (what I call) a Company Dictionary.

Sometimes I get awkward responses to this idea, like, "But wait, isn't that sort of cheating? I'm not going to mold myself into someone I'm not." My best response to that is that if you the way you go about using this Company Dictionary is somehow making you or your personality less authentic, then you're clearly taking the metaphor way too seriously. It's meant to be a helpful tool. Imagine if you were deciding to travel abroad in Spain and on a hunt for housing in a small community; wouldn't you take the time to learn a few basic cultural words to bridge the communication gap? It's true that you could stomp around insisting on being an authentic American, but most new opportunities involve meeting halfway.

Walking home from work yesterday, I had a real laugh. A roughing-it gentleman of the streets stumbled up to me and informed me I had "a beautiful feet." I hope he meant face. Maybe he's from a country where complimenting feet is a real honor, but I can guess that unless he learns the way ladies get complimented around here, he may just strike out.

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