Interviewing with companies have never been more fun.
It has not always been like this for me, but I am at a point in time where I am able to form basic, rational hypotheses around the types of work that I enjoy and the kinds of environments that I could thrive within.
This emergence of clarity has served an important role in allowing the formulation of better and better questions over time, leading to the following framework when diving into the deep end of researching companies or organisations:
The workflow has been similar to accumulating a dossier, in the form of a Word document that serves as the primary container of all of the disparate research notes and other miscellaneous observations.
This process of developing conviction about a company works up all the way from initial discovery to the very first stage of preparing to submit the cover letter and resume, then further still.
By the time the stars align and I get the chance to sit down for a one-on-one interview, I am not only able to feel mentally prepared with the baseline information in hand but also have the capacity to verbally articulate responses to the questions of:
These questions appear deceivingly simple on the surface but, as it turned out, they demand a certain depth of introspection — a process that can often be dark, confusing and scary. But nevertheless, it creates the necessary constraints that lead to the capacity of taking ownership of one’s life stories.
Only when our stories are clear to ourselves that we can begin to reasonably expect others to understand us better.
After crossing this threshold, the interview flow starts to feel more and more like a two-way conversation with interesting people. The focus becomes much less on ‘selling myself’ or ‘faking it till I make it’ and much more on ‘sharing more about who I am’.
I think authenticity and honesty is important in interviews because the assessment of ‘fit’ goes both ways. The interviewer wants to know whether a candidate could be a good fit for the rest of the organisation, and a candidate who ‘fakes it’ through manipulating words and presentation only serves to be a detriment to the purpose of finding fit. Sooner or later, the root misalignment will be discovered.
This also touches on the topic of failure. Is it really a failure, after sinking so much time into researching and interviewing, to ultimately discover that a company is not the right fit for you? It can sure feel like it, from all the aftereffects of rumbling with the sunk cost fallacy, but the hard truth is no.
Choosing which door to open and which doors to close is akin to making an investment of your future time and energy. If you would not invest your money in something you do not believe in, why would you invest your time and energy?
Every point in history is a crossroads. A single travelled road leads from the past to the present, but myriad paths fork off into the future.
Some of those paths are wider, smoother and better marked, and are thus more likely to be taken, but sometimes history — or the people who make history — take unexpected turns.
- Yuval Noah Harari