I’ve done a lot of interviews in the last couple years (since leaving my firm I’ve been on contract jobs that always require at least one). Although initially painful, I’m grateful for the experience. It’s made me grow up and understand who I am as a professional. At the beginning, I couldn’t tell a coherent story. I couldn’t discern if I was a good fit or not. I was scared and, frankly, mostly interested in putting food on the table for the family. I would have shovelled shit if necessary.
Later, I got more picky. I’d sniff out the interviewers for signs of bad politics, project success rate, team agility and transparency. It kept me out of a few really bad projects (I’d learn later from friends inside the org).
Ultimately I came to the conclusion that interviewing is really “sales” where I’m the product. That was a great revelation b/c I could solve the sweaty palms problem. In the early days I’d get seriously anxious at interviews. Stammering speech, nervous ticks like pushing my glasses up, and clammy hands–I had ‘em all. Most of that was b/c I internalized the process, equating an interviewer’s rejection with personal failure. If I didn’t get the job, I would be “worthless.” (yes, I’ve got issues, just pay attention). Later I realized that I’m a good product, but this product might not fit here (I don’t due well in slow, bureaucratic places). The interviews became more clean. I wasn’t giving an “apologia for my life”; I was peddling a product. “You wanna buy? If not, that’s OK, others will.”
Guy Kawasaki’s recent post “Everything you wanted to know about getting a job in SV but didn’t know to ask” is wonderfully articulate, witty, and on-the-money. Advice delivered as only Guy can. I particularly loved the “cast of characters” you will meet, their key question, and your key response. The wunderkind, mom, Mr. CPG–hilarious. Valuable reading for interviewing outside of SV, too.