Employment Interview (fwd)

Subject: Employment Interview (fwd)
From: Betsy Perry <betsyp -at- VNET -dot- NET>
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 1998 10:57:44 -0500

I think the most important lesson to be learned is that there is no
one perfect answer to this question. Any answer that you give will
lead to some manager's rejecting you. My own solution is that anybody
who rejects me for giving a meaningful, dispassionate answer is doing us
_both_ a favor.

Helen said,
------- start of forwarded message -------

I believe the safest answer to "why are you willing to leave your
current employer" is "to make a career change" or "to further my career
in the field." If you answer that you had a personality conflict, that's
a warning to the questioner that either you don't have interpersonal
skills to help you solve such a conflict, or you are too intimidated to
stick up for yourself.


That's Helen's honest reaction. My honest reaction, to the same
answer, is to probe deeper: What sort of personality conflict? I can
imagine personality conflicts that don't reflect badly on either
party, but that are nonetheless impossible to resolve. Somebody who
wants to go home to her family won't fit in with a company that
expects all employees to be present at the 6-8 Karaoke party on
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Somebody who wants to linger over
lunch with her coworkers every day will be miserable at a company full
of "Let me get the job done fast so I can get to my real life"
workers. In both cases, the "bad fit" employee could be a great fit
at a company that suited her working style.

The answer Helen approves of, "To advance my career", would annoy me
as being a non-answer. If the employee is considering leaving after a
year, something is probably wrong. The answer I approve of, "Because
this position isn't working out" (with detailed explanation), would
strike some managers as being too negative. You can't please
everybody. All you can do is be yourself, and hope that you're
interviewing managers who approve of people like you.

For what it's worth, I have given the "bad fit" explanation in job
interviews, and have been hired. When it was necessary, I described
the bad fit as dispassionately as possible, and went on to explain why
the position I was interviewing for was an excellent fit. Instead of
saying "There was no problem", I said "There was this specific
problem, which I can demonstrate that you don't share."

Elizabeth Hanes Perry betsyp -at- vnet -dot- net

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