Tim Vincent, CEO of Rembrandt Consultants, ends his newest book, “Nail That Interview” with one of the strangest pieces of advice anyone has ever given to a job seeker about the long and arduous process of landing a new position: “Hold tight and enjoy the ride.”
Personally, I’ve never once thought of the job hunt as a “ride,” much less one to “enjoy.” At best, though, I guess you could think of it as a particularly tortuous emotional roller coaster.
Then again, Vincent gives a lot of non-traditional advice throughout the course of the book, including:
- “When you accept you know nothing, you have everything to learn from scratch,” which sounds more like Socrates than a headhunter
- “The interview is a misunderstood [business] meeting,” which is only strange because you’ve never realized that it’s true
- “Questions reign supreme; 80 percent of what the interviewer will recall will be the type, style, content, and inflection of your questions,” whereas most of us probably go into interviews fretting over our answers, not our questions.
But, here’s the thing: all of this strange, seemingly counter-intuitive advice is to the credit of “Nail That Interview.” How many “land a job now!” self-help books are out there? And how many of those books counsel job seekers to thoroughly disrupt the traditional power balance between interviewer and interviewee?
This tipping of the scales is at the heart of Vincent’s book, and that’s why it stands out from the crowd. Throughout the entirety of the 10-step process presented by “Nail That Interview,” Vincent challenges job seekers to stop thinking in terms of doing whatever it takes to land a job. Instead, he takes a sort of zen-like approach, urging candidates to enter the interview process with the attitude “I only really need and want this job if it is right for me at this time.” Vincent recognizes that landing a job is about selling yourself, but he adds a new caveat that radically changes how we think of the interview process: it’s not about selling yourself at all costs, but about selling yourself to the right customer.
You have to admit: the balance of power between interviewer and interviewee needs some disrupting. As it stands, the interviewer runs everything, and the interviewee is generally at their mercy. How are hiring managers going to identify the best talent when they’re too busy power-tripping? How does the talent pool shine when it’s been taught through experience that it should only shine in the ways a company wants it to shine? But Vincent flips the script, encouraging job seekers to be more prepared than their interviewer, to ask more questions than their interviewer does — to, in short, run the meeting.
Another one of the book’s strengths is its structure. “Nail That Interview” is not your typical self-help book. Vincent brushes aside cheap platitudes and New Age-style confidence building exercises in favor of a more practical approach. Fashioned almost like a college-level workbook, each chapter of “Nail That Interview” revolves around specific, actionable steps for job seekers to take in preparing themselves. For example, Vincent doesn’t just say “Practice before the interview with a friend”; he gives a generous, multi-page overview of exactly what your practice should look like. The book is a process: by the end, you’re armed with stories, questions, journalling exercises, and a slew of other tangible resources you can add to your interviewing arsenal.
But because this book is, in some ways, kind of radical, it may not be for everyone: if you’re a job seeker who feels uneasy reading about Vincent’s brash advice to take control of the interview and run your job search on your own terms, then you can skip this read. To be honest, though, you should ask yourself: “Why does having more agency make me feel so uncomfortable?”
Similarly, if you’re a hiring authority who enjoys the traditional ways, you may not be keen on Vincent’s counsel. But he knows that, and, frankly, he thumbs his nose at you. Maybe you read that Vincent encourages job seekers to ask rather pointed “vision questions” about what your company can offer them in the future and think, “Well, I’d never hire someone who would presume to ask me something like that in an interview.” Sure. Your choice. But Vincent would likely categorize you as a “bad boss” and tell his candidate to move on up to someone better.
Vincent has a definite point: if you’re going to do more than pay lip service to popularly asserted business values like “culture,” “creativity,” “success,” etc. – well, you’re going to need people like Vincent’s proteges, who are creative, successful, focused, determined, and confident. So while this book may seem on the surface like a guide for job seekers only, I’d recommend that anybody who sources or hires talent read it, too. There’s a good chance you’re conducting the sort of stiff, misguided interviews that Vincent rails against. Learn to let your candidates take control and show off who they really are, not who they think you want them to be.