Thursday, April 18, 2013

Interview vs. Ambition

During a job interview, should I lie about what I want to be doing?

It seems like there's an obvious answer.  Of course you shouldn't lie.  Interviews need to be polite, maybe reserved, but you should always be honest about your experience and your skills.  

But everyone you meet wants to fit the square peg in the round hole.  I walk into a interview and I know what they want from me.  They want me to be the job description.  They want me to be the corporate culture and all the other marketing-speak on their website, and they want me to figure out the subtext of our interview and the job description (examples: we need someone organized because the last person was a mess; we need someone with perfect grammar because these documents go to our clients; we need someone who's no nonsense because this role gets very little intrinsic respect).  

They're going to ask about why I'm looking for a job now and what I want to do in 5 years, but I'm not sure they care.  More than that, I think they might prefer not to know.  

It's a dichotomy:  On the one side, most companies aren't interested in hiring someone who has no ambition.  On the other side, no one wants to hire someone who walks in thinking their role is a stepping stone to something more.  Or do they?

I'd hope a good employer would want the person with crazy strong ambition.  As long as that person is also loyal, wouldn't it to be great to grow a customer support rep into a vice president or an administrative assistant into a director?  I've seem team leads say they would be interested in that, but I don't know that it's true.  

I do know that many companies prefer pigeonholing.  They hire you to do X.  Maybe in 5 years you can move to Senior X.  Maybe even X Team Lead.  But what if you strive for the sort of dynamic career that the most interesting and successful people have?  I am starting to feel like no one wants to hire that person. 

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