We all know that necessity is the mother of invention, right? Well, in that spirit, I’d like to take a few moments to explain why a job interview is a great tool for establishing a career vision.
Let’s not get too hung up on how clumsy the term ‘career vision’ actually is. Think of it, in a more wordy way, as the act of formalising what you want to do with your career and creating a strategy that will help you achieve it. If that is something that you struggle with, the business of prepping for an interview – combined with a thorough debrief after the interview – can really set you on the right track.
A job interview is great for establishing a career vision because it gets you to state your ambitions out loud and to an audience. Not wishy-washy thoughts in the mind, or the very efficient clipped sentences that we might jot down as a ‘note to self’. At an interview your audience is a captive one. They’re not going anywhere (unless you really mess it up). The other reason why an interview is good for establishing a career vision is because you get to appraise what you’ve done, to reflect on why you’ve made certain choices, your achievements, the challenges that you’ve faced and how you overcame them. In other words, it compels you to spell out what you enjoy most – and least – about the work you’ve done and, also, to really focus in on what you intend to do.
One thing to mention is that these days, a company or potential collaborator might not use the word ‘interview’. It might be ‘meeting’ or ‘informal chat’. However, if it’s anything to do with business, projects and money, it’s an interview all the same. The dynamic will be the same, if not the actual structure and presentation; each side is looking to satisfy themselves of a pre-existing set of qualities that they hope to find in the other party. So whilst you might not be asked outright, ‘what are your strengths and weaknesses?’ you’ll be expected to divulge this information, just dressed in another coat.
After the interview, write down the questions you were asked, the ones that you remember, and think about the answers that you gave. Did they truly reflect your career vision, your ambition and your desire, your skills and achievements? There’s usually a little fine tuning that can be done, but after the prep and the debrief you should really have a much clearer idea of what you want from your career, your colleagues and, if applicable, your employer.