After years of working as a Software Engineer, I was ready to go back to my passion around teaching and facilitating. I applied for a “Training Specialist” position.
Of course, before applying, I needed to re-paint my brand with fresh colors, get into new circles of professionals, position my experience from an angle that was beneficial to this new field I was going into. I did a big brand makeover and I was ready.
After I got an invitation for a formal interview, I started preparing myself like crazy. I tried to dust my old knowledge about training methodologies, assessing needs, measuring impact, and ideas for making training sessions interesting. I thought it would all be about what I know. I was so wrong.
During my interview (5 long hours) I didn’t hear one question related to my training skills or knowledge.
It was all about who I was as a person
I had to dig for real stories from my work experience that demonstrated how I was dealing with personal issues, tight deadlines, risky decisions, and changes at the last minute.
It was all about real situations and me in the middle of them
I was surprised and kind of disappointed that I couldn’t show them how much I knew, that I couldn’t taste the fruit that grew out of studying for hours and hours in the last couple of days…
But as I think about it now, it kind of makes sense. Your resume is proof that you have the right degree, experiences, and that you CAN do the job. But what matters the most in whatever we do is our personality, our attitude, and our ability to learn from our experiences. Later, when we went for lunch with the interviewers, now coworkers, I learned that the question each of them was trying to answer during my interview was:
Would I like to work with her?
It all boiled down to that. They wanted to get a sense of how I’ll behave sitting next to them day by day. Would I be willing to raise my hand for an unpopular task? Could they trust me with their work while they are on vacation? Would I have a positive attitude if things get bad? Will I be help for them or a burden?
And frankly, I was checking them out as well. I wanted to make sure I’m a part of a team that will inspire me, energize me, challenge me, and support me when needed.
This was five years ago. Since then I moved on and the team members sprinkled away into various teams as well. But we still have lunches together (one just last week). We are still connected to this day, ready to support each other in any way we can. And I believe it’s because the focus of the interviews in that team was so much on the potential for collaboration.
Next time when you are interviewing, remember the question behind all the questions. The question that your potential colleagues or a hiring manager have on top of their minds – Would they like to work with you?
Henrieta Riesco is a founder of Intentional Career. She is all about meaningful conversation to empower professionals on their career journey. After experiences of being a teacher and a corporate trainer in Slovakia, a customer advocate and a training consultant for 10+ years at Microsoft, she is comfortable with calling herself a Career Coach. You can follow Henrieta via Twitter, or via her blog.