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Personality Type and Job Interviews

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Personality Type and Job Interviews

Changing jobs is hard to do and interviewing generally sucks. You're nervous anyway, because you want to make a good impression, and if it's over the phone you don't even know if they're really browsing the web for cartoons while pretending to listen to you.

The ethical use of Type knowledge clearly states that someone's Type doesn't indicate skill or competence. Just because you prefer to use extraverted Thinking doesn't mean you're any good at it, or that you always come to the correct logical conclusions. It is also true that people may be more likely to enjoy professions that stimulate or nurture the inherent talents of their Type preferences, and therefore that Type shows up in greater numbers.

In a good-read Harvard Business Review article, Chris Smith from ARRYVE suggests not to hire entrepreneurs, but look for entrepreneurial spirit. He says:

At the interview, I generally like to discuss our company's philosophy of supporting employees' interests outside their specific role at the firm. When I do, I want to see if the candidate gets more excited about how we can help with those outside interests than with the job at hand. I also ask direct questions like "What motivates you?" and "What makes an individual successful?" Entrepreneurial spirited individuals are motivated by, and can find success in, the everyday activity of the company and the opportunities their role affords to grow the business. The entrepreneur's answers will focus on personal achievement and independence.

Type knowledge can help with the interviewing process.

From the interviewer's perspective

Once you identify which skills or behaviors would be helpful in the position, you can phrase questions in a way that reaches candidates of all types and gets to the heart of the capability.

For example, someone who processes information through iNtuiting and/or Perceiving is going to respond more easily to those open-ended questions like "What motivates you" or "What do our values mean to you". It allows them to move from the broad to the narrow; outline the theme before diving deeper. Questions like "describe an example when you used this particular skill and overcame that particular challenge" may be too specific for them and throw them off their game.

If you have a candidate with Sensing and/or Judging preferences, the blank canvas may unnerve them and the more specific guidance allows them to shine and showcase their expertise more easily. Framing the questions in more narrow terms helps them to move from the detail up to the theme.

From the interviewee's perspective

The idea for this post really came from a friend of mine (INTP preferences) who recently went through a telephone interview for a manager position. He knew he was completely qualified for the position, read everything he could about the company, and was inspired by the information he found. Needless to say, he was really excited about the opportunity.

The interviewer asked precise questions and expected short, concise answers. This was only going to be Round 1; all candidates have to get passed him to speak to the people who actually make the hiring decisions. They spent 45 minutes on examples, case studies, and practical tests.

Here's how the INTP described his experience:

"All the time I was thinking, 'these are questions I ask when I'm interviewing for people to join my team'. And I'm not hiring managers, I'm hiring employees! I was getting more stressed and just trying to say what I thought he wanted to hear, but really, I felt like the interviewer was doubting my competence. The questions were just too simplistic. Why didn't he ask me at a more strategic level? The level that as a manager I would be facing challenges at? I wanted to talk about the general landscape first before going deeper into the issues. He even could have asked what motivated me, or what I would bring to the position, or what value I could add to their company. This was a crap interview, I'd be surprised if I get a call back."

He was right, he didn't.

Knowing your Type preferences can help ground you and recognize when you're getting outside of your comfort zone. When we're stressed, it's difficult to maintain conscious control and keep calm. Telling the interviewer what he thought he wanted to hear in this case came from the 4th (aka inferior/aspirational) Fe function. INTP's don't generally have a lot of practice with- or conscious control over it, so using Fe is draining and not always successful.

Type also gives you a non-judgmental language to describe what's going on, so our INTP could have said something along the lines of, "before I get to the specifics of your question, allow me to paint a general picture to be sure we're on the same page."

Interviews are stressful. Making space for candidates to be themselves may take a little longer, but I'm pretty sure it will result in a better fit in the long run.

Image by vincent desjardins, flickr, Creative Commons License

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Be true to yourself and ace that job interview

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Be true to yourself and ace that job interview

Vulnerability is... worrying if they'll like / hire / marry / call / promote you.

Do you want to ace that job interview?

Here are 5 simple steps, written from my NF perspective:

1. Know yourself

If you're not sure where or how to start thinking about your strengths and skills, there are plenty of assessments that can help. Please please please always talk with a certified professional to debrief the results and don't just believe everything you read black-on-white.

Email me for any of these, investment is about $120 to $150 for extensive material and debrief:

Myers-Briggs MBTI(r)

FIRO-B

FIRO-Business

Thomas Kilman Conflict Mode Instrument TKI

 

or try

StandOut - $15

Strengthsfinder 2.0 - $9.99

Strengthsfinder 2.0 can be analyzed in combination with the MBTI(r) tool, again, email me if you're interested in a thorough conversation.

2. Only apply for jobs you truly want to do

Yes, we all live in the real world and have bills to pay.

It's also true that what the world needs is happy. You'll be a better leader if what you do makes you happy. You'll have more energy at home to care for the people you love when you're happy. If criticizing and gossiping and bad vibes make you happy, give it a couple sessions with a shrink to see if you're not actually compensating your shitty childhood. You can defend your country and protect your community from a balanced happy place without playing into the tough-guy stereotypes. I dare you.

3. Get clear on what you need

Know your expectations for salary, benefits, work environment, team work, and individual freedom, and be prepared to discuss them. Be equally clear on what environment you want to work in. Does your ideal company have community outreach, charity components, a people policy? Does the industry align with your values? Will you be proud to hand over your business card for them? You'll make it easier for the HR rep and hiring manager to say "yes" to you when they get the feeling you know what you're getting into.

4. Research the company

At the very least, know their facts, figures, values, vision, mission, major portfolio and competitors. You'll stand out, because you'll be able to knowledgeably discuss what's happening in the industry and the challenges they're facing. It's not just what they can do for you, it's also what you can do for them. You'll get the vocabulary to describe your skills and contributions in a non-sucky way from Step 1.

5. Be yourself

Go in and have a conversation. By consciously acting and showing them what you think they want to see, telling them what you think they want to hear, you are making yourself vulnerable. You are placing your own worth and value on a lower level - theirs is more important. Don't fall into that trap, no matter how seductive. Show up. Be yourself. Dare greatly! If they hire you based on a show, you'll have to keep performing and risk feeling like a fraud.

OK, that last one is geared towards FJs, those of us who lead with extraverted Feeling, because we tend to adapt to our surroundings and the people we're with. I've done that in jobs and relationships too many times, and am here to share it's not sustainable in the long run.

Other advice you have? Leave a comment!

Image by photologue_np, Flickr, Creative Commons License.

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