The Employment System preaches that there are special job hunting skills you must develop before you can seek a job. Skills like writing a great resume, answering the Top Ten Interview Questions, and how to shake hands in the right color suit.

Meanwhile your competitor, the headhunter, is busy learning exactly what work the client needs to have done, and what work skills the perfect job candidate needs to demonstrate in the interview.

Interview skills have no statistical utility

Any good headhunter will tell you that employers don’t pay for job hunting skills. On the other hand, every personnel jockey will emphasize the importance of “learning to play the game.”

You might be surprised to learn that there is little correlation between how well a candidate interviews and how well he or she performs on the job. What we know about the traditional interview is even more stupefying than that. Annette Flippen, a Columbia University organizational psychologist, says, “The traditional interview has been shown to have little or no statistical utility as a selection technique.” That is, traditional interviews stink as a method for hiring the right worker.

Work skills win the job

So, how do you hunt for a job? With the only skills that matter — your work skills. Identify employers that need your work skills. Find out who exactly: the specific industry, then the exact companies, and finally the specific manager. If you’re good at your work, talking to the relevant people will be easy. You have everything in common with them. Find out what exactly are the problems, challenges and opportunities these employers are facing. Follow these steps, and you’ll be talking with the right people about the right job.

If you’re good at your work, you can be good at interviewing. The kinds of interviews where people get hired are ones that are about the thing you are already very good at: your work. What you need to bone up on is the problems and challenges the employer is facing. Then you can appropriately apply your work skills to demonstrate how you’re going to handle them. That’s what I call The New Interview™.

Review your work skills, and answer the only question that really matters: What can you do to help this employer succeed?

Think that takes more research? Absolutely right. Do what the headhunter does: Talk with other employees at the company, talk with the company’s vendors and even its customers. Figure out what the work is all about before you interview.

Employers pay headhunters for candidates who can do the work profitably, not for clever interview repartee. So, headhunters make sure their candidates are prepared to “go live” in the interview and do the job. That’s the skill that wins job offers.

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