We need to rethink our thinking about jobs and interviewing

Recently I made a new connection on LinkedIn. I like to think of him as a new friend I’ve never met. He asked me whether I had read a particular book on statistical errors and biases.  I quickly responded with my views. Not surprisingly, those views were based on what I thought at the time I read that book.

A lot can happen in 10 years!

I am grateful to that person as that question caused me to think of the irony of that book commenting heavily on anchoring our thoughts to early, or even initial views. I’m now re-reading it (or at least listening to it) and learning new things based on the experience I’ve gained since I last read that book.

There have been countless advice articles recommending that when you apply for, and interview for a new job that you should also interview them. I agree. This is sound advice.

It does, though, miss an important point. Most people are not participating in interviewing processes. Most people are getting on with their jobs. They might be complaining about them, but mostly people are doing their jobs rather than interviewing for a new one.

It is on this basis that I think many have made the error that I referred to above. Since we interviewed for roles we typically go through performance reviews. The company re-examines whether they are still happy with you. Whether you are still aligned with their goals, objectives and values. We accept this as a normal part of work life.

When was the last time you reviewed your company? If you are like most people it was at your initial interview. If you are like most people you have become accepting that both you and the company are the same as you were when you first met. I chuckle at the idea of how much both my views on life and values (and well, my rather receded hairline) have changed over the years. I’m not the same guy I was even 5 years ago. I am now the product of recent experiences as much as old ones. I’ve changed. Doesn’t it make sense then that others, including the company you are in, as well as the compatibility of your values, may also change?

It may be that you have all “grown together” and you are now even more aligned than you were when you first interviewed. That is truly a great thing. It is worth sharing that with the people you work with.

It might be, though, that it isn’t your crappy boss that makes you unhappy at work. It might be that your boss hasn’t developed into an awful lady. It might be that she’s the same as she has always been. It might be that your views and values have changed. This tension between values is a form of dissonance. Without taking the time to look at this alignment or misalignment you may continue to be dissatisfied and not know why. It’s easy to blame the boss!

Once you make this conscious decision you can have an honest conversation and determine what you can do to get better alignment. You don’t always have to vote with your feet. You can work with your employer to be more challenged, or more environmentally active, or have more flexible hours.

There are, however, instances where your values can’t be accommodated. There are times when the company culture changes and now you feel you don’t fit. Bonhoeffer once said (obviously before he was killed by the nazi regime) “If you are on the wrong train it doesn’t help to run down the carriages in the opposite direction”. You need to make the decision and take action to get off the train.

If you don’t check your ticket; if you don’t make sure that the station you are aiming to go to is where the train is going, you’ll simply be taken along for the ride.

Thanks Iain, for the reminder to always keep thinking, learning, and questioning what I just “know”.

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Nathan Jones

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