People have opinions.
Most are wrong but people believe they are right about anything they say. I know that’s true because, like you, I do it all the time.
I see something or someone and, when I listen to the voice that pops into my head, I notice how stupid or ridiculous those opinions are. My mind makes up stories about what that person is like– How smart or stupid they are. How successful or what a loser they are.
As smart as I am, I have learned how ridiculous my mind can be.
When I interview people, I always ask, “Are there any firms, that for any reason, you would not consider working because of things you’ve heard, opinions you have? Any reason whatsoever?”
I do this, not to get into an argument but to learn the biases someone has.
So imagine my surprise when I called someone to schedule an interview and discover that my client was one of the firms that they wouldn’t work for (even though I had asked them).
I listened for a while and then said, “Please go. I think your judgment of this firm smacks of the sort of criticism of people who left there some years ago. Maybe they failed. Maybe they were passed over for a promotion. I don’t know. Just check it out for yourself.
“If, at the end of the day, you have the same opinion you do now, I promise I will not argue with you. I’ll ask you what you saw and what gave you that idea so that I can learn from it. But I promise not to argue.”
I would have kept that promise but it became unnecessary when I received a call after the person spent three hours with them and called me and said, “Jeff, I have never been so wrong about something professionally as this.”
I won’t go into all the details (I wouldn’t be able to quote them like this anyway). They had spent three hours with them, met five people, gotten a feel for the firm and fallen in love.
So, I want to suggest to you that, when confronted by a situation like this, don’t cancel the interview. Go, prepared to ask questions about the things you’ve heard. As my friend David did before an interview, he used Google to find former employees in the department he was interviewing for to learn about the good, the bad and the ugly about the firm so that he could ask great questions.
At the end of the day, if you don’t feel different or hear answers that make sense if you don’t trust the people or find the work boring, DON’T TAKE THE JOB.
But you may also have gotten a jaded former employee’s opinions that have nothing to do with you. You may, like this person, discover that the job is one you want and crave.
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2007, 2014, 2021
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2000 episodes.
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