Uncomfortable fit

Work interviews are a form of professional courtship between employer and candidate. It might seem like it is the company assessing the prospective employee, but ideally it is just as much that prospect assessing the company (which is why you should always have good questions lined up for the inevitable question of “Do you have any questions for us?”). The process can sometimes seem like a quest for the perfect match, when really it should be looking for the imperfect match.

The candidate should be an imperfect match for the reasons described by Marc Miller’s piece “Are You a Perfect Fit for the Job? Then You Won’t Get It”:

  • “You say to yourself, ‘I am a perfect fit. I can do this job. Who would be better?’…The hiring manager is sitting in the interview saying to him or herself, wow this is one impressive candidate. Will they get bored in six or more months and then leave? Would I rather have a less qualified candidate who can grow into the role, possibly pay them less, and have them stick around for two or three years? If you are a perfect fit, there is no room for growth! Why would you want to take a job that does not stretch your skills?…If you really are a perfect fit for a position, then you will not get the job!”

And the company should be an imperfect fit for the candidate as Seth Godin describes in his post Galvanized:

  • “Often, our best work happens when we’re in a situation we wouldn’t have chosen for ourselves. The hard part is choosing to be in that sort of situation in the first place, the uncomfortable one where we have no choice but to do better work.”

Seth Godin elaborates in his post Godin On feeling incompetent:

  • “At some point, grown ups get tired of the feeling that accompanies growth and learning. We start calling that feeling, “incompetence.” We’re not good at the new software, we resist a brainstorming session for a new way to solve a problem, we never did bother to learn to juggle…First we realize something can be done. Then we realize we can’t do it. And finally, we get better at it. It’s the second step that messes with us. If you care enough to make a difference, if you care enough to get better–you should care enough to experience incompetence again.”