Like many of us during the last couple of months, we have had more time on our hands than usual. Last week’s blog I talked about reflecting on your current situation regarding the public finance industry. This week I want to reflect on any and all interviews that you may have had in the course of the last year. What I have consistently found is that most public finance professionals are challenged by evaluating their own interview. It’s difficult for them to scope how well they did overall. As I pondered this situation, I tried to come up with a reasonable solution to help my candidates get a better handle on the interview process. Here’s a new idea that I’ve discovered that if implemented may help all of you.
An Old, New Way Of Thought
As a student of the martial arts for many years as well as a practitioner of eastern thought, I gravitated to a book on the ancient game of Go. This game is one of tremendous strategies between two combatants. These tournaments could last a minimum of a couple hours and others could be as long as days. No matter the time frame, they were tournaments of intense negotiation as players determine where they want to put down their stones to build their empires. While being fascinated about the history, I became more curious and drawn to the individual stories of the great Masters. After a game was either won or lost, it is protocol to review with your competitor the entire game that was proceeding. As I was thinking about these review sessions, it dawned on me that this was something we should incorporate into our everyday practice while interviewing for a new position. Below is a direct quote from the book “Go with the Flow: How the Great Master of Go Trained His Mind by Hunhyun Cho.” This quote summarizes why we should also reflect on our past interview process(es).
“The purpose of review sessions is to create new strategies rather than to dwell over the mistakes. It is an opportunity to identify the causes of failure, for self-reflection, and to equip oneself with more creative and new ideas. One needs to find a way of letting disappointments go that works best for oneself and regain self-confidence as soon as possible. It would be lamentable to have the past anchor one down and keep one from moving forward.”
Implementing This Idea In Today’s World:
Self-Awareness Is Key For Your Interview Process
So how do we implement this age-old strategy? First of all, we have to realize that if you did not attain the position you were interviewing for then this is not a failure. It’s simply a time for further reflection as to what you may have said or done during the interview setting. If you are continually interviewing and not getting to the next level, this should be a signal for you to determine your weakness. By identifying your weakness in your interview process, you can capitalize on that weakness to turn it into a strong point during your next interview. But if you are not aware of your actions and/or words, you will not be able to fix this situation.
Preparation & Confidence:
The Perfect Cocktail You Need For Any Interview
Self-confidence is the most important characteristic that you need to display while interviewing. You need to have your stories established in your mind in order to present them coherently, with emotion, with empathy (if needed), or anything else setting you aside from the competition. Many people will not take an interview process as serious as it is. This is a major mistake. You should be more prepared for an interview than you are when responding in person to an RFP. Take the same approach you would with your due diligence on a deal and apply it to a new firm that you are going to interview with. Your future employer is expecting this. Returning to the game of Go, the master that wins is the master that is more self-confident, better prepared and refuses to give up their position. You need to take the same general attitude when interviewing with a prospective new firm.
About Harlan Friedman, JD & Founding Member, H. Friedman Search LLC. Harlan is a thirty-year veteran Public Finance Banker turned recruiter who specializes in the placement of all level Public Finance Bankers, Health Care Bankers, Municipal Financial Advisors, Compliance Officers, Issuers, and Bond Counsels.