Thursday, November 19, 2009

Being #2 Can Feel Like Poo

It kind of sucks to apply for a job and never hear back, but it really sucks to have someone else get the job and come in #2. You've jumped over HR hurdles, interviewed pretty darn well, gotten your hopes up, and all of that time spent interviewing feels like a huge waste of effort.

I'm a pretty good interviewer, people like talking to me, but what has happened more times than I care to admit is that I come in #2. My theory is that I was never the best for that job in the first place, meaning I was ultimately competing with someone who had more appropriate skills, but I tend to get really far because I'm good at sounding like I know what I'm talking about. At the end of the interview process, determine that I COULD do it but this other person HAS done it, and I come in #2 (feeling like poo).

However, I started realizing that being #2 is the best learning opportunity in the world. In late 2006, I interviewed with Google for a recruiting job. Everyone know Google hires smart people, and in the process of interviewing, I had face time with some really bright folks. I got to see how they interview, what they want in a candidate, how they treat people, why they were talking to me, etc. In addition I got to learn about Google's business, how they compete, where they are going, yada yada. I learned a ridiculous amount about Google in a short period of time. It also turns out that recruiters at Google don't have the best reputation among prominent recruiters or among Google employees, and later on I was glad that I didn't get the job.

The next time you come in #2, reflect on what you've seen and heard. If you didn't learn something, you were talking too much (which may be why you didn't get the job - I've been so guilty here so many times). If you can push past your feelings of frustration and failure, you'll start to benefit from all of the others experiences you've just been through. I KNOW failed interviews have helped me prepare for future opportunities.

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