Manoeuvring descriptions to get to the real job

How many times have you asked yourself if the work that you are involved in is actually what you were hired for? Does your work really justify the job description communicated to you or vice versa? The ambiguity or lack of alignment may work for some but may do more harm than good for some. Plus, what of the cost to the organisation for such misalignment?

Linkedin alone has posted some 6 million jobs in the this year. This number will surely, if not drastically, increase if we factor in numbers from independent job sites. What is the sutradhaar that connects the job sites, employers, recruiters and job seekers? One, of course, is a vacancy but the other is the Job Description (JD). A JD has to be the most crucial set of words that pulls us towards or pushes us away from a job opportunity. It comes in different shapes and forms. Some are really long and discuss the job in great detail (with categories and sub categories), while some are short and crisp and give out only as much is required to pique our interest; and then there are also those that spell ‘we have no clue what the role is but we are looking for someone for the job’. I have utmost faith that each one of us goes through each JD we receive with focus and diligence.

Recruiters and interviewers take pains to hire talent and they make sure they share that pain with the candidates too. The interviewers try to understand what we’ve been upto, what we’ve done or not done, our ‘strengths’ and ‘areas of opportunities’, how we would contribute or bring value and so on. Yet, we find ourselves being misfits or not doing what we were hired for.

Most organisations have adopted Behavioural Event Interviewing (BEI) techniques to gauge candidates’ depth of experience and the truthfulness behind it. If an interviewer has asked several probing questions about a particular statement made during an interview, it’s likely that they’re using BEI. It’s a very effective interviewing technique. However, only for the interviewer or recruiter. What about the candidate? How does the candidate ensure he is not being tricked by the glossy words used in the JD? How do we see through the JD and get to the real job?

The answer lies in how attentively we listen to the interviewer and are able to reverse-apply BEI.

The idea behind BEI is to ask deeper questions that clarify a particular statement, layer by layer, and with examples. Here’s an example. When the interviewer talks about expectations from a role, probing could reveal more about the role compared to the usual one way ‘you talk I listen’ street. Example: Asking what outcomes are expected from those expectations or what was the last project completed by the team and how the role contributed to it could bring more clarity. Or one of the best and good-old fashioned ways is to ask how a day of the role-holder looks like. The clarity with which the interviewer responds should help decide whether to honour or dump the job so illustriously described in the JD.

Some tips and tricks:

  • Read the JD carefully (of course you do that) and call out the aspects that attracted you to the job. These are where you need clarity.
  • List out your questions beforehand. If possible seek clarity from the recruiter regarding certain broad responsibilities, like whether the role entails people management.
  • If a telecon, keep a pen and paper handy during the interview to make notes and then ask your questions.
  • Remember to ask questions — mention at the outset that you will be asking questions. Organisations appreciate curious minds.
  • Research BEI and you’ll find templates that you can readily use. Though these are for interviewers, customise them for your use as an interviewee.
  • Seek clarity through examples. You may not get them that easily due to a variety of reasons like confidentiality, but try nonetheless.
  • Ask how your role is going to be different from your manager’s. Large organisations sometimes fail to distinguish work levels clearly leading to lack or little distinction in what a subordinate and manager does.

How have your interview experiences been? What anecdotes can you share, and through those, learnings for others? Waiting to hear from you.

Like what you read? Give anu sirauthia a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.