Every interviewer is looking for the same thing, which is a universal generalization that’s not one-hundred percent accurate. It is what they aren’t looking for in the interview that is always true. Interviewers aren’t looking for people who will cause them headaches and problems. If you have a tendency to show up late, or not at all, and ignore calling in with updates, they aren’t looking for you. I have worked for companies that allowed employees to skip work without any notice, something I would never so much as try. One of the more fascinating aspects was that when they allowed the employees to skip work and not call in, they did it more often as time progressed, kind of like psychological reinforcement that it was acceptable to skip work without notice, because doing it never had negative consequences. It might have been because the bosses never had to make up the slack for the missing employees, to do the work of the missing person.
I could have made this essay an extensive list of the juicy rationalizations and polite means of rejection, but my efforts are better spent elsewhere. There’s always: “We’ve decided to move ahead with another candidate”…”After careful consideration”…”Your background is”…”The position has been filled”…”We have selected another applicant”…Where I am sure that all of the credentials that I have, all of the experience, as well as the hard-won credentials dissolve into the shade when compared to some other candidate.
Rather recently the other candidate shared a surname with someone already in the organization, but I’m sure that was a coincidence. I keep seeing that same coincidence, as they (those that make decisions) keep explaining to me in those rejection emails “We’ve decided to move ahead with another candidate,” especially when said candidate has a familiar name. These coincidences keep occurring, and yet the detectives tell me they do not believe in coincidences. It becomes one of those “who do you believe?”
It seems, and I have stated this on other occasions, that my professional credential was something that, if I had it in the past I would have been hired, but now, after the time and effort to obtain the credential, it really doesn’t mean that much. It’s funny how “if you just had this” changes when you get whatever is “this” to which they were referring. When you don’t have it, it is invaluable, and when you have it, it suddenly becomes meaningless. What was meaningless all along was you, but they would never tell you that.
I won’t go too far into the philosophical significance of writing hundreds of research studies, or the improvements that those efforts have made in my perspective and insight in literacy, business and reality. I think “lifelong learner” is such a cliché that when a decision-maker actually encounters one, they are dumbfounded. People who write twenty and thirty page research documents and twenty page annotated bibliographies in their spare time make the term “lifelong learner” look like someone who does a crossword puzzle on Sundays and thinks they’re really straining their minds. For the record, I like quizzes, but I hate crossword puzzles.
The most amaroidal part of having studied so intensely is the perspective that makes me look askance at some of the people making decisions. In this vast information society, you might not be able to find out how they got there, but their credentials, or lack of them, are an easy search. While some are truly impressive, some make me wonder who they knew to get where they are, and make me even more curious as to who would be interested in hiring someone without significant academic credentials, especially when they insist that you have them. Reminds me of people whose resentment was thinly veiled when they told me they weren’t impressed. They might not have been impressed, but they seemed frightened.
During the interview you asked what you thought were good questions, like when you would be evaluated and what you had to do to get a perfect score on your evaluation. You mentioned in the area of evaluation how recent research shows fundamental attribution error has a part in evaluations. (Few people are familiar with fundamental attribution error, but it plays an important role in evaluations, as noted in the Harvard Business Review.) You gave some great background research on their parent company, including the stock target price and the P/E Ratio among other things obtained through Yahoo Finance.
The HR people keep insisting that they can’t find good people. They certainly aren’t interested in training anyone, that’s for sure. “This business is well ended. My liege and madam, to expostulate, what majesty should be, what duty is, why day is day, night night, and time is time, were nothing but to waste night, day, and time. Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit, and tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief: your noble son is mad.” Polonius, Hamlet, Act Two Scene Two