Nothing Is Perfect – So Play Along

I know this sounds a bit risky, a gamble if I must say it in a word. But, let’s see where this leads us.

Back in the day, I had a staff member who was applying for a position elsewhere in the organization. He kindly let me know in advance. A week or so later, he informed me he hadn’t gotten the job. I was surprised but secretly pleased as he was a valued employee.

The employer was unionized, and if employees met the stated criteria for a posted position, they needed to be interviewed. As luck would have it similar positions were posted in the other location. Unfortunately, he was never the chosen candidate. I was puzzled but didn’t pursue my curiosity any further.

Then, one day, he caught up while I started my lunchtime walk. He asked me if I could help him be better in the job interviews. Though conflicted, I was happy to help.

I took the approach that he was qualified. Otherwise, he would have had repeated interviews. So, I purposely didn’t address the skills he needed for the position but focused on how he presented himself in the interview.

I asked him to identify three things he wanted the interview panel to know about him. He struggled a bit, but eventually, he settled on the following: He was a team player and a hard worker and was looking for a long-term position.

He sounded good, except the interview panel was looking for a therapist. I pointed that out, and he was stunned but still hung in there to hear more.

I now challenged him to think of ways to convince the interview panel that he was an excellent therapist – but without ever saying that directly.

For example, a client he had about 6 months ago referred a friend to the interviewing candidate because of the excellent therapy he had received. This information has even more impact if he can slip it in as an aside when answering another question. For example, if asked how he handles the offering of gifts from clients, he could say that he refuses all but the most minor of gifts, such as an offered coffee at the start of a session. But he could add that a gift of a referral of a client’s friend, such as happened recently, would be accepted with gratitude.

The staff who was interviewed for the umpteenth time was finally successful.

My reflection on this scenario was that the interviewers were giving too much weight to the interview when, in fact, they were hiring a therapist to work with real clients.

Job interviews are notoriously prone to poor selections or missing great candidates. What would the world be like if we grouped the top 3 candidates and drew names from a hat? Would the new hires be better suited over time?

Please give this a bit of a think. Can you think of any situations in your life when you were trying for a level of precision that was just too high? Nothing is perfect. Could you have relaxed and figuratively thrown a dart at groups of options?

I’m curious about your thoughts. Please share your bit of a think in the comment section below. It will come to me for approval before posting.

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2 thoughts on “Nothing Is Perfect – So Play Along

  1. Patti+Dolman says:

    My example may be a bit off target but the job interview advice you gave a co- worker was brilliant. I had to give my husband similar advice when he was told that a new drug with a high success rate for treating Myeloma was not approved by one of his health insurers. He was meeting with a doctor at Princess Margaret Hospital to discuss options. I told him to dress up, walk and sit tall, mention that you’d been playing team hockey ( up until fatigue set in) and show him a photo of you holding both your grandsons. Prove to the doctor that you were a good candidate for the drug, all $120,000 of it! He was told by the second insurer that he was approved. My advice may or may not have affected the outcome but it gave my husband something to think about.

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