Interrogation Vs. Conversation

This is a guest post by Sean Glombowski. I previously worked with Sean and stayed connected with him. When I saw his LinkedIn post about the job hunt, I knew I had to get him to share. Thankfully, he did. I’m proud to introduce you to Sean today and hope you take something away from his article.

Merriam-Webster defines Interrogation as: “a formal and systematic questioning”. They also define Conversation as: “oral exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions, or ideas”. Now that we know what the definition of each is I pose the question of, what method is best for interviewing potential candidates for a new position?

During the spring of 2022, myself and 1000+ of my talented colleagues were promoted to customers of our employer due to a corporate restructuring. This left us all with a new professional position, job seeker. After acceptance of my new position, I decided to let it become my new full-time employment. My first step was to utilize the service of a professional resume writer to get my resume up to the newest standards. I was amazed at the difference of what I currently had and what this person produced. My initial comment to them after the final edit was “WOW I would hire me!”. This lit the fire for me, I was excited to get my resume into the hands of every recruiter and HR representative that I could.

Unbeknownst to me this would end up being a 5-month journey filled with hopes, dreams, learning, setbacks, and letdowns. During the start of my new employment, by the direction of my coach, I hyper-focused my search into companies that specialized in fields that I was familiar with. I chose who I sent my resume to after exhaustive online searches into businesses that fit these criteria. I was met with immediate responses. I was overjoyed with the idea of getting back into the workforce and thought this would be an easy journey, I was wrong. I had many phone conversations with potential employers, some led to in-person/zoom interviews. What I wasn’t prepared for was the wait. Sometimes it was weeks, in some cases months before a response. 75% of my interactions were not responded to at all, with no return emails, no return calls, this left me with no direction on how to get better. Was it me? Was it my skill set? Was it my appearance? Was it my minimum compensation requirements? Were they overwhelmed by the number of applications? Did they already have a candidate picked out and they were going through the motions? To this day I still don’t have the answers. I kept on, more resumes sent, more phone calls, more interviews.

What I noticed in this time was how the interviews were conducted. Almost every “in-person” interview I participated in was the same. The interviewer came in with a prepared list of questions, they would ask, I would respond, then they would move to the next question. Picture yourself in a movie or TV show where the police are interrogating a suspect, a small room, with the suspect on one side of the table and a detective on the other side. Firing question after question without giving the suspect a chance to explain their answer. Was this how life in the job-seeker world is supposed to be? The interviewers seemed to want to know only answers that pertained to their specific business. There were no deep dives into the WHY’S of my answers. I would leave these interactions completely drained mentally and physically.

At this time I decided to expand my search into businesses that I had zero background in but felt that my skill set could be applied and adapted to what they do. This was the best decision that I made in my search. It led me to my current employer.

The interview process started the same as the rest, apply, send in a resume, and schedule an initial phone screening. This phone screen though was completely different. The person on the other end of the phone had already studied my resume and knew my skill set could be utilized in their business. The call consisted of getting to know me. No background, no going through the resume step by step, just a conversation between two people. They wanted to know if I was a cultural fit. I left this call with a sense of hope, finally. Did this really just happen? Was it real? Two, yes two days later I received a call for a zoom interview with my initial screener and another person. I prepared myself for what I deemed as the normal process… the INTERROGATION. My anxiety was high in my preparation, I worked through it and logged into the meeting. I was met with another conversation. The new interviewer wanted to get to know me as well! WHAT? I was floored. I felt like I was in another dimension. The entire meeting was learning about me and the interviewers helping me get to know them and the company. At the end of the conversation, I was met with a project to show my skill set. The project had zero to do with their company or their product. It was literally a project to show I could do what my resume said I could.

After my submission, I was scheduled for another interview, again two days later. This meeting was with my previous two interviewers and the VP of their sector. I really thought this would be the INTERROGATION, again I was wrong. We proceeded through the meeting as a conversation. By the end of that week, I had a written offer that I excitedly accepted. During this entire process, my initial screener and I had many phone calls, explaining all of the steps and making sure all of my questions were answered.

Now I ask all of you reading this, would you rather have an interrogation or a conversation for an employment interview? I know for a fact that I prefer the conversation.

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