It’s smart to take a last peek in the mirror minutes before a job interview – to smooth an unwanted wrinkle in a skirt, or to straighten a carefully chosen tie.
It’s the natural thing to do.
Recently, job seekers have been taking a much longer look in the mirror, months before the interview process even begins.
That scrutiny is becoming more necessary as individuals and employers engage in a rigorous “matchmaking process,” says Jody Beke, an associate consultant at human resources firm DBM.
|HR consultant Jody Beke sees job attitudes changing.|
“One of the most important things for the individual, and the organization, is for the job candidate to know his or herself well, and be true to themselves.”
In the past few years, Beke, and colleagues she recently canvassed for Business Edge, have noticed significant changes in the hiring process.
On one hand, employers are investing more time and money, adding several layers of interviews and tests to ensure they make the right hire. On the other hand, career-transition specialists are encouraging job seekers to examine their hearts and minds, to lose their inhibitions and choose careers they are passionate about.
People just aren’t taking jobs for the sake of having a job anymore, notes Beke, who suggests our attitudes have changed for several reasons, including the impact of 9/11; a lack of loyalty among organizations; an aging workforce that has the financial wherewithal to wait for the right opportunity; and an unwillingness to put up with the stress and long hours that are common in today’s workplace.
At DBM, a firm with 225 offices worldwide including Edmonton and Calgary, and as a leadership and transition specialist with her own Calgary-based company, Beke explains that helping people has become a near-holistic experience.
“At DBM, we go through an extensive assessment process to help people look at their strengths, areas for development and to look at ideal work preferences – what they can do, what they want to do and what is the best fit.
“Many people are looking for something different than they were looking for before. They want something that has meaning and purpose, that aligns in terms of head and heart.”
But getting to the heart of matters isn’t always easy. An individual who has been downsized, for example, is often in a state of confusion, reluctant to “look in the mirror.” It’s easier to put energy and emphasis on practical job search components, such as building a resume and preparing for interviews.
People don’t want to discover their blind spots, says Beke, don’t want to deal with conflict and don’t want to move through their fears – such as the fear of rejection, fear of failure and fear of losing control.
But they become better prepared as transition experts help them understand previous situations, recognize their responsibilities and accomplishments, and get to the core of what is satisfying. More confident, they prepare resumes, establish networks and do mock interviews.
And with newfound self-awareness, when they reach the interview stage, they are better able to assess an equally expectant employer.
Beke explains that job candidates, especially those who haven’t been through interviews recently, might encounter these scenarios:
* Telephone interviews as first points of contact. Online psychological and communication-style screening, perhaps done before the telephone interview.
* Three phases of interviews. In Phase 1, a meeting is held to share information, set the context, talk about cultures, the challenges, specific position and responsibilities. Then the individual receives a task, a project the company is working on, and is asked to make a presentation on the project.
In Phase 2, just days later, the candidate makes a presentation. Then he or she discusses what they would do if they had the position, offering more detail and suggesting how they’d work with the team in terms of better practices, etc.
In Phase 3, now that challenges and the company culture are better understood, the question arises: Is the candidate still interested in the position?
* Behavioral description interviewing is used in most processes: “This is a situation I faced. This is what I did. This was the result.”
* There are theoretical questions (think-on-your-feet material.) After the presentation, for example, the interviewer might pose scenarios to see how the candidate prioritizes and rationalizes events.
* Questions are relationship-focused, getting-to-know-you queries on issues around strengths and areas for development.
* More questions are also being asked about understanding systems and processes, to determine if a person can hit the ground running.
* Prospective employees are introduced into the workplace where they may job shadow, where they observe and are observed.
* Interviews may involve three or four people on a panel, including a line manager, a union or HR person and a manager from another department.
Beke explains that a well-prepared candidate isn’t intimidated by the scrutiny.
“The interviews go both ways,” she says. “They are interviewing the company, and the company is interviewing them. It’s not so new, but we do put a lot of emphasis in that.”
Candidates are trained to watch for red flags to measure if they fit with the employer’s culture.
“They pay attention to things that are noticeable – dress codes, the way people talk, values, how the environment is set up.
“They listen for statements such as: ‘You may be required to work some weekends;’ or ‘There may be some other things that you may have to do, that I won’t get into right now.’ ”
While this matchmaking process seems onerous, it eliminates surprises that can lead to future heartache, says Beke. It means an individual can take a job, and when they look in the mirror, know they’ve made the right decision. Web watch: www.dbmcanada.com