How to go from an Extra in a job interview to a Starring Role

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Have you discovered that you were an extra in a job interview, when you thought you were auditioning for the lead role? Usually, you do not find out about this reality, but if it is discovered, how do you handle the knowledge? Allow me to use the movie metaphor throughout this article to make a few points that will hopefully be of benefit to you.

When interviewing internal candidates within an organization, there is usually a preferred candidate. This person is the odds on favorite, a person who it is their job to lose, who will get the job unless they are an embarrassment and fall on their face during the interview. Don’t be naïve going to the interview thinking that this is not a reality. What can you do to shift the odds in your favor or set yourself up or your next career move?

Secondly, even when interviews involve candidates from outside the organization, judging by recommendations, review of resumes, and telephone screening, there are still candidates who on paper, the interviewer may feel have an edge. What should be your mindset going into the interview? You should assume that you are interviewing against a pool of talented individuals and securing the job will require your best performance. You cannot be distracted by the competitive field of talent. You should feel thankful for the chance to show the world why you are the person for the job and did deliver a powerful, mind altering performance.

Interview preparation

Prepare yourself for a courageously effective interview, as if you were competing against the most potent candidates in the universe. You must know yourself thoroughly and be ready to present your credentials in the most authentic, persuasive and powerful means possible. Your focus should be on delivering the best audition, reflective of your skills and abilities, to perform the job at a very high level. Your research into the organization should enable you to craft a strategic vision of how you could do the job better than anyone else. You should visualize yourself in the job, performing the job and achieving beyond managerial and company expectations.

It is company policy in many organizations to post a job, even when a person has been identified to fill the position. This may seem like a sham, but it does provide an opportunity for other people to audition for the vacancy. It may feel as if you are going through the motions and it may feel unfair, but it provides an opportunity that would not be there without the Human Resource Department (HR) involvement.

I have been on both sides of the situation. I have had people who were targeted for a specific role as a part of their professional development. When the role became available, I wanted to immediately put them in the job, however I was told by HR that the job needed to be posted and others given the opportunity to pursue the position. In other words, the people had to earn the position. HR wanted people throughout the organization to have a chance to pursue available and appropriate positions. Otherwise, people would leave jobs and be replaced based on favoritism and preferential treatment. It was better for the organization and the rationale made sense to me. However, it was incumbent upon the interviewers to be open-minded. This was a challenge and everyone had to be held accountable, which required challenging the judgment of everyone involved in order to arrive at a fair and equitable decision. There were instances where initial feelings were changed, based on the skills and abilities of a better candidate.

I have experience interviewing for a job when I knew I was a part of a crowd scene. I was an extra, to allegedly give credibility to the interviewing process. I did not want the job, but I was encouraged to interview for the job because it would be beneficial for my career. Interviewing for a job requires preparation time, which I did not want to spend because I wanted a different position. I did not want to deliver a poor interview because it would take me out of consideration for the job I really wanted. The feedback I received, after I did not get the job, was they could tell that my heart was not in the interview. I thought that was amazing, since I told them in the beginning that I did not want to interview for the position. My presence in the interview, gave credibility to the person and the interview process. It also showed my willingness to be a team player.

Initially, I felt they could have given the job to the individual without putting me through the process of preparing and executing multiple interviews. Serving as an interview extra however, ultimately worked in my favor. He was an amazing candidate and ultimately I got the assignment I wanted.

How should you perform when you suspect that you are an extra in the interviewing process? Should you follow through with the interview? Should you complain to those interviewing about your suspicions? Should you withdraw your name from consideration because you view it as a waste of time?

Many managers would suggest you approach the situation from a strategic point of view. They would suggest that you consider the following;

  • The interview process may not be as open-minded as you would like
  • The interview is an opportunity to showcase your talents, skills and abilities
  • The interview allows you to network and expose other individuals to your career aspirations
  • The interview allows you an opportunity to practice your interviewing skills in a manner sanctioned by the organization (receiving interview practice by interviewing for jobs outside the organization would not be smiled upon)
  • You could enter the interview with the mindset of making it very difficult for the interviewers to offer the job to their preferred candidate
  • Your stellar performance could set you up for a recommendation from the interviewers for an even better positionThe moral of the interview process is that even though you may knowingly or unknowingly be an extra in the interview process, it is a golden opportunity to network and showcase your talents. It can be the move that can set you up for an even greater job, building relationships, advocates and individuals anxious to recommend you and potentially bring you onto their team.

 

  • Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

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