Interviewing Adventure #1

Interviewing techniques evolve

Discussions about interviewing styles and good cop-bad cop routines have been, and still are, a beloved topic of mine. It’s a conversation you can have every week in the office, and you would still arrive at the moment where you rush in the room enthusiastic about a new thing you heard or saw in practice. For instance, “What are the common characteristics of wood material and alcohol?” is a good opener, and not only because a forest and enough alcohol can both leave me wandering in quiet contemplation.

 Transcendent and Transactional purpose

Following is a differentiation based on purpose. This distinction is useful when you have a lot of information but you still need to get into a time slot. Furthermore, it will allow you to have your information ready for any one of the interviewing techniques you prefer. After the talk is over you can also arrange the received information into these two categories:

– transcendent purpose – this is the story of what value a product or a service brings to life. What the products or the company stand for. Perhaps most easily recognizable when it comes to car brands and models, it’s in our nature (or habit) to try to construct symbols for events and phenomena. The symbols we choose for ourselves may or may not be correct all the time, but it’s safe to say that when the transcendent purpose of a company is being crafted by many people, the worst thing that you can get is a true but unwanted  symbol (or message). This is why we change organizations and develop people – so we can influence the transcendent meaning of work and our products;

– transactional purpose – how we work. Whether it’s how a product is being sold or how you build your strategy, this is how we plan to reach our goals. A lot of effort goes into observing your surroundings and trying to plan. At this point I don’t have to remind you that dirty tactics and cunning maneuvers are all part of business, but please have in mind that some of these events are in place with a clear transactional purpose in mind, and some remain a byproduct of office or personal politics. Transactional purpose is rather easier to fit in interviewing techniques from all cultures but still both are equally important and mandatory for a good conversation.

conversation photo

For different roles it makes sense to offer a somewhat adjusted story of the company. As an example, if you are presenting a new role for a 10-year old company maybe it makes more sense not to engage the conversation partner in the founding myth and what the MD/CEO wants next, but to put a part of the company’s experience into perspective and describe how this role would develop and where it stands on the map. All in all, it’s always up to you to decide if the other person is over- or undersold, so you can explore the current situation through a longer bit about the transcendent value.

Another benefit of this approach to presenting and participating in a discussion is that you can put all your thoughts and comments into these two groups, or link the information to these two groups to a degree, and then a clear path from one to the other should appear. It’s what makes a good story.


Photo by AJC


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