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Friday, July 11, 2008

A Different Kind of Interview

Of the vast and various sources of information about interviewing, none prepared me for the one I had recently. It was different not because I had to wear a chicken costume or audition Tuvan throat singing, but rather because of the information asymmetry.

Most people normally go to an interview knowing the position they are interviewing for, what the job calls for, in general, and what the range of compensation is. However, for this particular set of interviews, I had very little of that data. Further, while the interviewers knew each other, they didn't provide a context as to why they (individually) were chosen to interview me.

The organization I interviewed with, while over 10,000 employees, has a very flat organizational structure. The reason for that type of structure is because they encourage small teams that are nimble and fluid. For anybody working for large companies, this often spoken of, but not regularly executed.

How does one handle this type of interview? I will have to let you know after I get an offer letter! Seriously though, if you are bad with ambiguity, this type of company is probably not for you. If you really value a title and rigid organizational structures, look elsewhere. However, if you like loose structures that are results-focused, this is your type of place.

My suggestions would be to prepare your successes in the type of position for which you are interviewing. Highlight your command of the general base of knowledge, as well as be prepared to offer suggestions as to how the company can do better. Maybe that is a better marketing plan, or different sales techniques, etc.

As always, be honest, confident, and patient. A new and ambiguous situation requires patience. Feel free to think about the questions and ask for clarification. Once you have done an interview of this type, you will definitely be more prepared in the future. You could also find some interview information here.

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