Well, it is a gamble, sort of, isn’t it? You’ve read their ad or posting, or listened to the head hunter and said “yes, I can do that,” or “I’d like that.” They’ve read your reply to their ad or posting, or listened to the head hunter and said, “maybe he can do this,” or “maybe he’s the one for us.” Nothing is for sure, but there is interest on both sides and soon you will be facing each other across the table.
Game of skill or game of chance? Probably some of both. (A note of caution: This analogy only goes so far. Gambling is generally a “win-lose” proposition while a successful interview is a “win-win” proposition. In the first case, someone folds and walks away. In the second case when the cards are finally on the table both sides say “you are just what I was hoping for!”)
I’m not an expert, but do have some thoughts on interviews based on my own experiences. Of course you know your strengths and weaknesses relative to the position in question. After going over the job description, you ought to be confident that you would do it well if given the chance. In any case, it’s probably a good idea to rehearse a bit by actually saying what your strengths and weaknesses are and why you are the best person for the job. Chances are you will be asked. Another thing, be sure that you have read the job description correctly. Ask questions about the job and listen carefully. If they restate what their needs are, you can be much more direct and specific in showing how you can address those needs. If they can’t clearly state exactly what they are looking for, it should raise an alarm. You may not consider yourself a salesperson, but in this case you are.
You have an appointment to call on a customer with an interest in you. You are what you are selling. Your future employer may not be convinced yet, but you are the resource that they have been looking for. Actually, you are the person they are looking for, not just the “resource,” “head count,” “full-time equivalent,” “CV” or “resume” in question. Try to make a personal connection in each interview. Find some common ground. Don’t be afraid to talk about interests, hobbies, places you’ve been, vacations you’ve taken, pets, families, anything. It doesn’t hurt to drop some names in the conversation and usually a little humor is OK. You will find the cues and clues in the conversation and among the things you see in the office. If the person you are talking to won’t go along with your efforts, or if there are no personal touches in their office, that should also raise an alarm, especially if it’s the future boss you are talking to. It’s a two-way street.
One time, before I was to meet my future manager, who had the last word in the hiring process, I met one of the company VPs, a person who a friend of mine would likely describe as “one of the big vegetables,” a uniquely corporate term. We had a nice talk, which he closed by saying that he was not directly involved in the search. They were looking for a PhD with teaching experience to write for them and give scientific presentations. He said that it seemed to him that I was qualified for the job. He added that he was just making sure the people they were considering could carry on a general, interesting conversation. Before you get there, find out as much as you can about the agency or company, what it does and the people who will be interviewing you. Surf the net, talk to your head hunter, talk to friends. Try to get the skinny on the place and the people who work there. Any info helps.
A receptionist once gave me the company’s annual report to look at while I was waiting for my interview. The information about the people, company and products helped me a great deal in the discussions that followed. I did get that job, which was the one I really wanted. Game of skill, game of chance? – some of both. Cheers for now.