|How to Conduct a Reverse Interview|
The reverse interview is one of the most powerful methods I have found to find a new job. It is also a very powerful tool for uncovering new business opportunities. I learned of this tool when reading What Color Is Your Parachute? 2010: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers. (Actually I had read a version many years ago.) In the book, Richard claims that you will get job offers even though you have never asked for jobs. Finding this idea preposterous, I had to try it – mostly as a challenge. I was sure he was an idiot – and set out to prove him wrong. What I found was a whole new way to discover the world of opportunity.
The basic idea of the reverse interview is that you will contact someone who is where you want to be in a few years, ask them to talk so that you may learn what it takes to get where they have gotten. Nothing fancy.
The Six Steps1) Decide where you want to be in a few years. This sounds simple and obvious, but I find most people lie to themselves on this one. But more on that in a later post.
2) Find people who are where you want to be – from step 1. Who is already doing what you want to be doing. Contact them and ask them for 15-30 minutes of their time. Tell them you simply are trying to learn what it takes to get to where they are today. Do not ask if they are hiring – in fact – you do not care if they are hiring.
3) When you meet with them, remember you are interviewing them, and not them interviewing you. DO NOT TAKE A RESUME. DO NOT TALK ABOUT YOURSELF AT ALL except to explain why you are there. For instance, you might say "I have been working in the telecommunications industry for the last 10 years, but I have gotten interested in doing something different, and I think I would like to be where you are in a few years. I would like to learn how you got to where you are and what you love and hate about your current work."
4) Listen, ask questions, and finish on time.
5) In the end ask them who else they would suggest you talk to.
6) Follow up with a thank you note or email. This is very important! While it may sound cheesy, I really take note when I get them myself – and I normally would not care about such things as thank you notes. So, if it works on me, it must REALLY work. (Not that I am insensitive or anything.) But at very least it helps keep fresh the new networking contact you have made. And just in case you have missed it so far – DO NOT SEND A RESUME.
What to expect1) Information. You will get a wealth of information. You are asking them to talk about themselves, which everyone loves to do. In talking about them, they let their guard down. You are asking how they feel about the work. So you might discover the company is a terrible place to work. You might discover what you thought would be a neat job really is not a fit for you. You might discover a lot of things – and that is the point.
2) They will like you. Yes, I said they will like you. How do I know? You have asked them to talk about themselves. In case you have not read Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends & Influence People let me summarize – if you want people to like you, get them to talk about themselves.
3) You are likely to meet many people on that day. I have seen these interviews take 30 minutes with one person, only to get introduced to another then another. I had an undergraduate engineering student who did this with a company and spent four hours in their offices, walking away with business cards from multiple vice presidents and multiple offers.
4) You might get offered a job! Yes – I said you might get offered a job. First time I did this the company was not hiring and I made no mention of getting a job. But when I was walking out the guy told me "Dale, we haven't hired new people in this firm in 10 years – but would you be interested in working for us." I was floored – not because I got offered a job, but because I HAD CREATED A JOB.
What if they offer you a job?Do not take it! Certainly do not start jumping up and down screaming like a schoolgirl! Act like you expect it, thank them, and remind them you are searching right now and not ready to take this step. The key here is to mean it. This "searching" is exactly what you are doing. You have moved from the person who is looking for anything to the person who is intentionally looking for the right thing. Just as you might shop for the right clothes or the right shoes, your job (or company) needs to be right for you also.
Fact is, if you decide their job offer is what you want to do, they will be there later. You will have their phone number and email address. You can later contact them and tell them that you loved what you heard from them and want to go after an opportunity in that field. Ask them if they know of anything you should approach. Notice – you still do not have to ask for a job. Remember, they like you!
What next?- Before you take a job, do this a number of times. I suggest at least ten times.
- When you get a job, keep doing this to learn new things. When you need to learn something new for the job, start with the experts.
- Never hate work again!
Originally published on DaleCallahan.com, reprinted with permission. Read the original article here.