To say that job hunting in today's economic conditions is harder than ever is an understatement. Nothing newsworthy on that front. But even before the downturn for many years the professional white collar job hunt was going down hill fast.
Way back when I started my [so-called] career interviewing as just that. A discussion between the candidate with skills and experiences talking with an employer with a position that needed to be filled because there was work to be done. They described the work, you related how your training/education/experience/skills would be able to accomplish the work. Seems simple enough.
The "calling card" document was always your resume.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines "resume" as: A brief account of one's professional or work experience and qualifications. In other words, a resume is your list of what you see as your qualification for the job being applied for.
Unfortunately, today too often your resume is taken as a chronicle or journal of your life.
For example, on the interview the interviewer just goes down the list of positions you've held, what you did, and why you left. Heaven help you if there's a gap in work history! Even in this day and age where you could be laid off at any moment and take months to find gainful employment again interviewers – even supposed professional headhunters – don't seem to recognize this.
Another aspect is having to defend why you did some work this way and not that way. It is reasonable to ask how something was accomplished and why it was done that why. But the reality is that as an employee you have to work with in the limitations of the resources, tools, and policies your employer has. There may be other ways, perhaps better ways, to accomplish a task. But if those other ways involve tools your employer doesn't provide, costs your employer won't pay, or just policies your employer isn't flexible about there's little you as an employee can do.
The point is, very quickly the interview can degenerate into having to defend your life with your resume as State's Evidence exhibit #1.
I don't blame interviewers (too much). Interviewing skills for managers just aren't talk in business school or trained by employers. Most managers are just regurgitating the same dumb questions they are asked when they interview. Or they do a quick Google search for interview questions and go down the list.
I also think there is an element of frustration in there too. Frustration at not being able to find the mythical "perfect candidate" with all the skills, experience and knowledge they think they want in a candidate. Funny thing: Even if they did find such a person they are likely to pass on them think the person will want too much $$$!
And unfortunately as the economy worsens and more and more people are looking for fewer and fewer good jobs employers and interviewers can get away with making you defend your life.
I don't have an answer. If anyone does, let me know too.
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