Interview Season: A Interview or a Conversation?
Now that I have had the opportunity to interview dozens of applicants for a number of roles (school, organizations, employment etc.), I would have to say that the most successful experiences have been when the interview did not feel like an interview at all. Instead, the applicant approached the conversation as just that – an actual conversation, a bi-directional dialogue that was beneficial for both parties involved.
When you meet someone for the first time, let’s say at a reception or even a friend’s home – how do you strike up that conversation? After the requisite introduction, the conversation centers around finding a commonality between the two parties. Are you from the same neighborhood? Do you work in the same field or location? Do you know the same people or attend the same school? You learn about each other by not only asking questions but providing information in an effort to provoke additional fact-finding. The same can be said about an interview – not only does the interviewer want to get to know you, but you should take advantage of the time to get to know the interviewer and her/his thoughts about the school.
This skill of talking to strangers does not necessarily come easy to many – in fact, some of you assuredly dread meeting people that you do not know or are shy when left in a crowded room without someone to talk to… However, this is indeed a skill that is learned and can be practiced with ease.
As health care professionals, we are responsible for communicating with a significant purpose – helping that person who sits in front of you. Do you know that person? No. Have you ever met that person? No. Are you responsible for making them feel comfortable? Yes. Turning your medical assessment questions into a conversation allows for a level of comfort that invokes a greater sense of trust by the patient and is beneficial as you develop and propose a treatment plan. You have to be more comfortable than the patient when it comes to talking with strangers or else it will be a rather awkward interaction that will not be productive towards that patient’s care.
The parallel can be made between talking to strangers at a party, talking with patients, and taking part in an interview. When you enter the room, be at ease, be polite, and realize that the conversation is as much about the other person as it is about you. Granted, the interview may initially be a little more one-sided as there are questions that the interviewer will want to present. Seek to turn your responses into an open ended opportunity that may glean follow-up questions or allow you to pose a question. It will be a natural conversation and will help you prove your ultimate point – that you can communicate with ease.