What is the difference between a proactive vs. a reactive interview?
A majority of the job seekers in today’s market are passive interviewees who wait for questions to be asked of them (reactive). The difficulty with this style of interviewing is that you are waiting to be asked the “right” questions so that you can give the “right” answers. This style of interviewing is not bad or wrong, but it does make it more challenging to make your case on why they should hire you to the person who you are interviewing with. When you are interviewing from the “reactive” approach, you have little to no control over how the interview will go. It is also much more boring and tedious for the person interviewing you when they have to pull information out of you one question at a time.
A proactive interview, on the other hand, is one where the interviewee has talking points prepared about what makes them suitable for the position and finds ways to incorporate these points into the interview (see my earlier article on “Blocking and Bridging“). A proactive interviewee will also anticipate any possible concerns that the employer may have about their background such as lack of skills, movement on their resume etc…and will proactively address these concerns throughout the interview before the interviewer even has to bring them up. The great thing about this style of interviewing is that the interviewee will not have to be on the defensive when a touchy point is brought up because it has already been handled proactively by the interviewee. When you proactively interview, it makes the interviewer’s life easier because the interview flows more comfortably and it makes your life easier because you can more readily address the points you want to make the strongest case for why they should want to hire you.
Candidate “A” has a good resume, but recent movement on their resume.
The employer asks Candidate “A”:”Tell me about yourself?”:
“I have been in my field over 10 years and am good at what I do.”
“I have been in my field over 10 years and love what I do. One thing that has me stand out from others in my field is XYZ (talking point #1). Additionally, I wanted to point out that I do realize that I have moved around quite a bit recently and wanted to go through my history with you so that you can have a better picture as to why I have made some of these moves.” Candidate “A” then proceeds to clearly paint a picture that depicts their reasons for leaving (RFL), anticipating the employer’s potential concern about their movement (proactively addressing a potential concern AND saving the employer from painstakingly having to go through each RFL one by one).
As my examples above illustrate, proactive interviewing skills can easily enhance your effectiveness in your next interview and get you one step closer to that job offer that you want.
Reactive interviewing can put you on the defensive and have you miss key opportunities to strengthen your case for why they should hire you.