Houston (and Texas) IT Jobs Blog

Thursday, October 13, 2005

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7:36 AM     Break The Rules and Get The Job!

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If you're a job seeker and have read any book at all on interviewing or ever been to a recruiter, you're always going to get the same piece of advice:

"Never, Never, NEVER make references to age, race, religion, politics, or sexual preferences"

I read another self-styled "Job Hunter Coach" offering the advice above and, turthfully, I'm sick of hearing it.

Here's the best advice you'll get for interviews: USE age, race, religion, and politics in EVERY interview in order to get the job!

Now, let me explain.

First of all, to get it out of the way, the "Job Hunter Coach" I read was the first to mention "sexual preferences" in the list of things not to talk about. Let me be clear: if sex comes up in any form or fashion in your interview, you're in trouble (unless you're interviewing for a "sex trade").

The others, however, are fair game AND the best way to make a connection with the interviewer.

"But, wait a minute, Dan!," you say, "I was told that talking about age, race, religion, and politics would immediately get me knocked out of consideration!"

Well, yes and no. What you have to understand (and then use to your advantage) is WHY you're being told that.


As you know from your own personal life, the people that you feel closest to have several PERSONAL things in common with you. Whether you realize it or not, it is these "emotional bonds" that make you feel close to someone.

Most people, while they get a lot of meaning from their work, don't feel close with everyone that they work with. That's because most people don't have a warm, lovey-dovey feeling for the company that they work for. In other words, most employees don't stay up at night worrying whether the company is going to make a profit tonight.

However, there are plenty of people in Houston who are going to lose sleep over whether the Astros are going to win the National League Championship. Why? Because it is much more PERSONALLY important to them.

It is EXACTLY the same for age, race, religion, and politics. These are some of the MOST important things to people. That is why, as you'll see in a minute, it is both dangerous AND beneficial to use them.


Now we get to where that "Never, Never, NEVER" advice comes from. You see, if you are vocally on the other side of a age, race, religion, and politics position that your interviewer holds dearly, you are immediately an enemy.

You might as well fold up your tent and walk out of the interview at that point.

On the other hand, if your interviewer thinks that you're in agreement with them on those issues, they immediately (but frequently can't explain why) like you. "Likes you" can't overcome serious flaws in your candidacy like "Has no skills", but it WILL give you the advantage where there are 2 or 3 candidates who are, more or less, the same. This happens a LOT.

Getting back on tract, this process works almost every time almost like magic. This is why (for those of you who are single) the best place to meet a mate is at places where people are emotionally involved. People don't love their bar, but they do love their church, cause that they volunteer for, hobbies, etc.


Now, some people will read the above and read that I am telling candidates to fake an emotional attachment of the same things that the interviewer likes.

I am not in advocating this any way, shape, form, or interpretation.

Only the best actors can pull of "emotional faking" successfully for more than a few minutes. People will pick up if you're faking an emotional involvement and immediately distrust you.

However, if you can FIND an area where you are on the same side of the issue (which is a separate topic in itself), THAT will get you remembered fondly. And these areas are going to most likely be in the categories of age, race, religion, and politics. And kids, neighborhoods, taxes, weather, and sports.


One word of warning. Experienced HR folks are also well trained (although normally not most hiring managers). They will actually fake a like or dislike to try to draw you into going off the deep end.

Whatever you do, no matter who you talk with, don't go off the deep end! Agreement and discussion are all good. Ranting, raving, and talking about how you're going to overthrow the government are all BAD!

With these HR-types, showing that you have and can defend an opinion is the way to proceed. Just be careful of the trail that they're trying to lead you down.

Also, many managers have build up defenses around them against talking of emotional issues. If you say, "Nice lookin' kids - how old are they?" and the person completely shuts down, they are putting up defenses.

If you try to scale those defenses, they will resent it and you. Just have a normal interview with these guys.

Now go forth and get that job!


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