being tested

Being Tested

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Most of us have become immune to the idea that we are being tested. We act as though tests ended when we completed school when nothing could be further from the truth. We are constantly being scrutinized, and measured against someone’s benchmark for the right performance. We know we do it with politicians and athletes. Heck! We do it with our commute! The train or bus is awful. That driver is terrible. Constantly, we critique and evaluate others and ignore that others do it to us, too. Amazing!

So, people go on job interviews knowing full well that they are going to be measured and critiqued for their performance and what do they do? MAYBE, just MAYBE, they do enough preparation to be bad, particularly those who manage or at Director levels. Why? Because they think they know what interviewing is about because they have hired people for themselves. They forget that other firms and other leaders have different expectations and assessment criteria than they do. As a result, what I measured in my 40+ years of work in search before moving into coaching is that managers and Directors, in particular, are the worst at interviewing no matter what the field or industry. So, like an inverted bell curve, managers and directors, people who should be performing at a high level because they know better. Their staff and their boss’ usually perform better than these middle management professionals who are relied upon.

What can you do?

1. Decide in advance the direction you want to take your career next.  Generalities won’t cut it for you when you are asked about your career aspirations and expectations. You need to prepare a truthful answer.

2. Conduct informational interviews. Test your hypothesis for your future with former managers, bosses, peers . . . anyone who might have perspective of you and your abilities plus the wisdom to be able to discuss it with you without giving you BS. Remember, you don’t know what you don’t know.

3. Fix your deficiencies. It is up to you to improve. No one can do that for you, nor will they pay to have you upgrade your talents to take it elsewhere. You are kidding yourself if you think the next firm is going to write a check to train you to do something to make you qualified for the role you want. After all, why should they give that training to an outsider who they don’t know, rather than one of their existing staff

4. Practice interviewing past ugly to good or great.  My friend, Alain Hunkins, once described most public speakers as being people who practice enough to be “ugly.”In other words, they practice enough to be mediocre, rather than excellent. Folks, you need to practice past “ugly.” Step up your game!

5. Understand that interviewing is combat where you don’t know the enemy. The enemy is not HR or the hiring manager. It is not the applicant tracking system the firm uses or the junior person who is brought in by the manager to interview. It is “the unseen enemy” with whom you are competing. You need to annihilate them with excellence. As you know, good enough isn’t yet that is how you enter the arena.

6. Get clear about your value and don’t MSU. Most people “make stuff up” (MSU) when it comes to their value. Your company doesn’t give out $50000 raises in base salary yet you think the next firm will even though that will put you into a position that you are not qualified for in order to earn the money you want to earn. 

7. Practice Interviewing. You can’t coast into your next job based upon success in your current organization that no one in the next one has seen. You need to be ready to perform on the stage called a job interview knowing that there is a critique in the 7th row on the aisle who will be writing a review that will make or break your show.


Many years ago when I was at the midpoint of my career as a recruiter (I no longer do recruiting; I coach job hunters), I remember listening to a trainer talk about how to recruit someone effectively. His sales technique translated into, “The person who gets ahead isn’t always the smartest or work the hardest . . . although those are great qualities to have. The person who gets ahead is the one who is alert to opportunity.” To which I add that sometimes those are internal to an organization; usually the are external.

I also add that this person needs to be “prepared and ready” when they hear a metaphorical knock on the door with an opportunity. Otherwise, the door will close quickly on you.

For more, read, “It’s Easier to Network Than You Think.”


© The Big Game Hunter, Inc. Asheville, NC  2017, 2024       

Reverse Engineering the ATS for Results


People hire Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter to provide No BS job search coaching and career advice globally because he makes job searchJeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter and succeeding in your career easier. 

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