Thursday, May 6, 2010

Honest Feedback Is Hard to Get

One of the most frustrating things about interviewing for a job is getting honest feedback on your performance from the people who interviewed you. I suppose people are too afraid of being sued to give you their true impressions. As a result, you’re usually left scrambling for the smallest clue of what might have gone awry.

Was my breath too minty or not minty enough? Was my handshake too firm or too wimpy? Was my power tie too powerful? Did a reference suddenly remember a time when I pushed him off a swing set? It’s anybody guess.

A friend told me about a time when he was passed over for a job. He called the hiring manager seeking some feedback. In a rare burst of openness, the manager told my friend that he seemed disinterested in the position. My friend took the criticism to heart. After that, he amped up the energy before every interview. The strange thing is I always thought this friend was pretty dynamic. I don’t know how anyone could experience him otherwise. Nevertheless, I’ve lived vicariously through his experience. As a result, I always go into an interview with the “Doug-o-meter” turned toward high. I figure this is what hiring managers are expecting, particularly from a PR guy.

One can express enthusiasm during an interview in many different ways. I shake hands firmly, look the interviewer in the eye, share stories about my experiences, ask questions and take notes. I even laugh when something is funny.

But is that laugh too hearty or not hearty enough? Thanks to the lawyers, we’ll probably never know for sure.