When Others Speak For You

This post could get me into trouble. I have a love/hate relationship with recruiting experts. Though the intentions to educate and inspire creative thought are clear to me, I worry their readers are missing the boat on what is really happening at times. So much advice comes off as “do this” and “say that” directives. I fully believe the goal is usually to help job seekers understand the reason certain questions are asked and what employers are hoping to learn about potential hires. When it reads more like telling people exactly what to say in situations or in response to specific interview questions, it gets dicey. It turns me off, honestly. There are individuals who will take suggestions, word for word, and spit them back to interviewers. How is that a good thing?

I see a few problems with the concept of providing stock answers to questions. First, what if the canned answers don’t ring true for the individual? Winning a job because of great answers could be setting the person up to fail if he wasn’t truly cut out for the culture and expectations. Sometimes not getting a job is the best outcome. Secondly, spoon feeding shuts the brain down. When the focus is more on helping individuals think through the situation at hand, they’ll be able to consistently provide valuable answers to questions in interviews. They won’t have to rely on the employer asking them the questions they’ve been able to prep for. It’s the old “teach a man to fish” analogy. Third, just as candidates are reading the articles and blogs built around how to answer interview questions, so are employers. Hiring managers frequently complain about candidates being too practiced in the interview process. They are doing their own research in order to get a handle on what candidates are being taught to do to get the upper hand. It’s hard to tell what’s genuine and what’s show. If an employer suspects candidates are giving them stock answers, it makes it hard to trust that individual’s account of his interests and abilities.

The point I’m attempting to make is that anyone reading an expert’s advice should be paying more attention to the thought process behind a recommendation versus focusing exclusively on what they believe the expert is saying to do to the letter. Once you understand why an expert believes certain responses or actions are ideal, it’s easier to determine how the advice suits you and what alterations you may need to make on your end.

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