The Victim Mentality Candidate
I do believe that in South Africa we suffer from what I call the victim mentality”. From very early on in our careers we are told that there are massive amounts of unemployed people walking the streets. The fear of the dreaded interview or unemployment failure is embedded into us almost immediately without us even starting work. This constant flow of negative publicity is brought to us through all sorts of formats especially in the media and recruiters.
Once we are in a position to start looking for work and starting to apply and then start with interviews there is an element of fear already in our minds especially when it comes to the actual face to face interview. I often meet and interview candidates who tell me at the beginning of the interview that hey do you not think they will find a job and even worse find a job that will be suited to them and hence are prepared to take any job that comes their way.
One of the many issues that I have had to face with my candidates is that of trying to coach them when preparing for their interview. Any individual, when faced with going to an interview, is met with the daunting task being interviewed by a potential employer under unnatural conditions.
In most cases, the interviewer tries to place pressure on the interviewee to gauge how he or she will behave in a high-pressure environment.
The irony of course with this type of interview technique is that the interviewee is already in a high-pressure situation and knew that they would be in this awkward position before the time. The candidate, therefore, is actually prepared themselves mentally and hence acts differently in any case. Often interviews are conducted by junior HR managers that have not had enough face to face interview time. These screening practitioners often do more harm than good. This confidence killing practice further enhances the candidate's poor interview technique leaving the candidate with a feel of pro self-confidence and fear of future interviews. The interviewee also fails to really gain insight into whether the role is actually suited to them. Why does this type of negative interviewing technique persist? Can’t the candidate also be allowed to the opportunity without being bludgeoned with an applicant type approach?
Maybe this is the fault of the recruiter or the screener, as the need to interview large amounts of candidates for one role is still the norm with many companies. Further encouraging the screening practitioner to interview in a very cold and aggressive fashion. The result however of this poor interview regime only serves to fuel the candidate's victim mentality. Ironically I have found with the more experienced HR Executives especially the strategy differs significantly, as this type of interview is more of a conversation. This senior HR practitioner tries to rather understand the larger issues at hadn’t like corporate culture fit and career expectations.
Most individuals carry this victim mentality through their careers without ever addressing the heart of the problem. I see that this with executives and graduates alike. There seem to be no boundaries to this hidden lack of confidence when entering the job market.
So how does this victim mentality manifest itself? When arriving at an interview often we are put into this position with the interview where will be screening and scrutinising the candidate.
Of course, everybody knows that when moving into an interview there needs to be some form of screening. However, experienced hiring managers and recruiters know that cannot with you all screen model comfortable really bring out the best attributes rather than having candidates in an uncomfortable high-pressure situation.
With traditional interviews, there is a set format allowing the candidate to ask all important question at the end of the meeting. The candidate waits patiently to ask this all important one question and feels the pressure to ensure that the question is not too long or complicated.
Of course, the normal vetted response follows. This does not have to be so!
Remembering that one needs to be mindful of moving into an interview process and expecting to talk 24/7, as most HR practitioners will discount you from the shortlisting if they feel that you have asked too many questions or spoken for too long during your interview.
So how do you banish the victim mentality mindset during an interview whilst ensuring you gain enough inside to establish if you actually want to consider the role, without becoming the next regretted candidate?
My advice as follows...
I believe you must strategically ask questions during the course of the interview in order to conduct some of your own detective work (or what I call “becoming the detective”).
In order to put yourself in a position where you become the detective, you will need to stop thinking like a victim and become the opportunistic candidate. The method that you will need to employ during an interview to ask these questions is quite complex and is normally a mix of thinking on your feet and watching your interviewee’s body language. Just to mention two on the list.
In my book, I speak a lot about the first interview as being a place where you need to explain your story hence the title CVforLife. This story needs the flow! You cannot expect to go to an interview and be shortlisted if your story doesn’t flow and create a good impression with the interviewer.
The interview actually needs to become more of a conversation allowing both parties to gain insight. (Often this only happens at the second interview).
If you prepare your CV story or plot the pressure you face in your interview will subside and allow you to move away from this victim mentality outlook to a more focused detective approach.
Preparation here is key and you should consider that if your CV has been written in such a way that it tells a story you will be able to use your CV as a script rather than a mismatched sequence of events. (obviously with the need for some practice required hence the very appropriate title - script)
However, managing your interview technique is only one answer. The most powerful solution to overcome the victim mentality mindset is summed up in one single word - research!
My next article...
In my next article, I will address this all-important topic and shed light on how you can further overcome this hurdle using research as your strategy.