Interviews Are Terrible

For a business blog, that title sounds somewhat immature. Not exactly the kind of thing you’d expect to read around here, is it? But there’s really no better way to say it, and it is 100% fact. Interviews, specifically job interviews, are simply terrible. The whole process is hugely flawed.

Answer me this. As an interviewer, it’s your job to get a feel for a person’s personality, behavior, work ethic, and experience. How are you supposed to really get a feel for how a potential new co-worker or business partner is going to act once you actually get to work in the span of say….half an hour? Or an hour? You wouldn’t commit to a romantic relationship after knowing someone for that long. It would be silly. So why would you commit to a business relationship after the same amount of time? What’s worse is from the standpoint of the interviewer, you may potentially have to go through this process dozens of times over the span of days (or if you’re really unlucky, a single day), trying to get a read on every single one. How do you keep them straight? How do you, with this fleeting glimpse of a person and their history, make the best decision for you and your company?

On the other side of that coin, as the interviewee you’re essentially being subjected to an interrogation. You’re forced to sit in a most likely uncomfortable chair while someone you’ve just met picks apart your work history, your personality, anything they can, to try and get a bead on what kind of addition you’ll be to their business. It’s a very uncomfortable situation to be in. It’s no small wonder so many people come out of job interviews saying, “well, I bombed that.” Can you blame them? This is not an ideal way to try and communicate to someone you’re trying to do business with what you’re all about.

Like I said right up there in the title, interviews are stupid.

Now one would think that, now that you’ve cast of the shackles of the 9-5 world and gone into business for yourself, searching for the biggest piece of PIE you can get your hands on, that interviews would be a thing of the past.

I wish I could say that was true, but unfortunately, that would make me a liar. You may have to interview a prospective new co-worker, a sub-contractor you need to do some work for you, a potential investor, someone who wants to come on-board as an investor, the list goes on and on and on. When it comes to operating a business, you are going to have to interview people.

But do you have to do it the same old flawed way that the 9-5 world does it? If you will pardon my French just this one time, hell no you don’t. Just because you may have to sit down and interview someone, doesn’t mean you have to do it in the traditional way. In fact, that’s a very bad idea. You work for yourself now, it’s time to make up your own rules.

We’ve talked before about making a good first impression and communicating effectively, and those skills will definitely come into play here. Pulling someone into a room, putting them in a chair, and then picking apart their life? Not a good first impression. Asking a bunch of vague questions that tell you nothing about what a person is really like? Not effective communication.

This is your business, and your money on the line. The old ways of interviewing someone just aren’t going to cut it. Take your time with each interviewee, regardless of the purpose of the interview. Get to know them. Really get a feel for them. Get creative. You’re not bound by thirty minutes and a crib sheet of questions. Do what feels right. Ask what comes to mind organically. While you’re at it, toss the whole “sitting in a room across a table” format out the window. Meet your interviewee somewhere you can get them to relax and open up a little. A coffee shop is good. A bar, well, you don’t want them to get too comfortable, if you know what I mean. And as your “interview” (at this point by 9-5 standards it barely qualifies as one) progresses, don’t just listen to what the conversation sparks in your mind. Listen to your instincts. Your intellectual response may be “yes, this person is perfect”, but your gut might be saying “no, this person is not the right fit.” If your instinct is leaning in that direction, it just might be right. The reverse is true as well.

The conventional interview is simply not a good way to choose people to join your business, in any capacity. This is your business, your future, and your PIE. Find a better way to find people to help you bake that PIE. A way that works for you, your personality, and your business. Not the old way that we all know is completely and utterly broken.

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