My experience: Demonstration of power during the job interview
Job Seeking October 4, 2022
A situation that I recently experienced myself in the process of looking for a job, and which I had heard about before from personal experience from various sources, from the stories of friends and acquaintances, and about which I read as the topic of weekly columns, psychological manuals, and various blogs, inspired me to write this blog.
It is about the phenomenon of demonstration of power, i.e. the presented values of the company during the interviewing of job candidates, and finally, about the lack of positive direct communication. Can you guess what I’m talking about?
Namely, based on a good recommendation, my well-written CV ended up on the “big and important” director’s desk of a successful company, to be read and considered (I hoped), so that I might be invited to an interview. Fortunately for me, I was invited, and very quickly.
I was very pleased that such an opportunity presented itself to me because I considered that “big and important” also means capable, innovative, inspiring, and everything that logically goes with that. Armed with a positive attitude, freshness, and “good energy”, I appeared ten minutes early in the center of that well-known company and was asked to wait until the Director’s Personal Assistant came to pick me up.
And while I’m sitting on the sofa and renewing what will be my “key points” in the conversation, I see a younger woman, dressed for business, approaching me, and I smile because I realize that this is the person I’m waiting for, but at the same time, I notice how her facial expression doesn’t change as she walks towards me, that she is very strict and “cemented” on that face. Now the young lady is in front of me, but she doesn’t say good day or anything like that, nor did she smile at me, but with an unchanged stern expression asks me if I’m That and That? I confirm that I am, “Good day, how are you”, I say, and I only get the instruction “Follow me”. And I follow her. The first “touch point”. We all know how important the first impression is, and how, among other things, it is an important transmitter of the company’s value and an indicator of the climate that prevails in it. My thoughts stimulated by such a first interaction are naturally diverted from the positive, my expectations change as I walk through the corridor, and now I estimate that the price here is some rigid strictness, “great importance”, and kindness and immediacy probably do not share a priority place on “know-how” lists. OK.
The personal assistant opens the door to the Director’s office, and now the two of us are standing in the office near the door. The director’s desk is opposite us, so he would be looking right at us, actually me, if he would like to look!
Although the opening of the door was heard, and it was more than evident that someone entered the office, the Director does not raise his head but continued to look at the papers, it seems, and this continues now… I am confused, not only because he did not look at us but also greeted us, but also by the fact his assistant is not saying anything (in my head I should say something like Director, So and So arrived as agreed, or at least Good day). The assistant is standing next to me, and the Director still doesn’t look up. My thoughts impose an idea: he’s important, he’s testing me, or he’s really busy. I do not know. But that’s how I say Good day first! And I stretch my lips into a smile (measured, of course). Even though it’s Good Day, it turned out to be somewhat sound considering the given situation.
The second “touch point” leaves me with a variety of impressions. The director is now busy and I am irrelevant at this moment and now is not the right moment for me and that’s all… there is a very “important” man in front of me (who will use this opportunity to demonstrate his importance and to test a potential “follower” in a certain way), as well as the impression that the Director has no problem rejecting prosaic etiquette.
Good day! And a measured smile. The director raises his head, confirms my presence, greets me, and tells me to sit down, while his assistant is still standing and does not speak, and leaves after the instructions he receives, among other things, to bring me water. I greet her and thank her. I think she also said hello to me at that moment.
The conversation with the Director lasted only a few minutes. He asked me one question about what I did at my previous job because it was a well-known and well-known company in the region. He referred me to an interview with the HR director of the company and I left his office as fastest as I could. Just when the water was coming.
In this instance, the situation improved a little for me, because the HR director was a nice older lady who has probably been working for the company for a long time, quite formal, admittedly, at times it seems as if she is “doing what is necessary”, but who, on the other hand, with spent a whole hour and a bit with me, although at the beginning she emphasized that our conversation would last 30 minutes, and with whom I had the impression that I had talked. When I was leaving, the HR director escorted me to the exit and I thanked her, “It was nice talking to you”, which she did not say back, but politely said goodbye. We will be in touch.
This experience got me thinking. The director certainly wanted to get to know me (because he needs to find someone or to “follow up” on a recommendation), to get some impression, and that is quite desirable and expected. I once read somewhere that when you need to demonstrate the importance, you should not speak for more than two minutes. And it suddenly dawned on me on the way back. Of course, there are many other ways to demonstrate power or to speedily “test” one’s character (although this was perhaps too speedy for even the most judgmental mage).
My conclusion from this experience is that in such situations, you should stick to your own views and principles, and not allow someone else’s approach to confuse us or cause us discomfort. Give yourself space to assess the situation, make an effort to tolerate the uncomfortable silence and “non-reaction”, and finally make an effort to “fight it out” for yourself.
In such business environments, it is probably a pyramid-structured company whose values do not prioritize positivity, openness, initiative, criticality, and flexibility. My “good energy”, freshness, and kindness, were not accepted, nor were they probably interpreted as if I was a good “fit” for this company, and various questions opened up in my head, such as these: Is it positive in such systems immediacy a threat to one’s greatness or is it too expensive, difficult and unnecessary? Does it level or reduce the importance and seriousness? Does it represent disrespect for authority? Can authority be kind and accepting? Even now, I could list many more questions in this regard, but I believe that you understand what I am trying to say, and above all, I understand it myself. Anyhow, choose the work environments you want to work in carefully. Not every company is for everyone, regardless of reputation and external impression.