Beware of Interview Help Snake Oil!

One of the great features of the SEI interview process is that it is run almost entirely by SEI consultants. We are not recruiters working off a template of questions – we are actual consultants talking with people who, if hired, will become our peers in this company. This is an invaluable opportunity for a candidate to learn about SEI from the inside out, and make sure that SEI is what he or she is really looking for. Candidates see that our interview process is far from a drawn-out barrage of questions thrown at them. We’ve all heard the term “two-way street” applied to the interview process before, but let’s face it: sometimes one side of the street is much narrower than the other.

I can safely say that the SEI interview process is as much of a true two-way street as I have ever come across. It will let a candidate get precisely the information that he or she wants, while making sure there is a mutual fit.

Opinions, Everybody Has Them

I have now racked up quite a tally of interviews across the different branches during my time with SEI. It has also set me reading, with great interest, articles on interviews and interviewing that appear on career websites. From the perspectives of both interviewer and interviewee, the advice appears to be never-ending, mostly well-intentioned, but of wildly varying usefulness.

I recently read articles that spanned quite a range, from proclaiming a single, magical question for interviewers that will unlock everything you need to know about a candidate, to a list of 100 (!) questions that all candidates should be able to answer.

Interviewing is hard on both sides of the table – if it were not, then we’d certainly find a much more cohesive and helpful body of information for everyone to use (not to mention a much more satisfied universe of employers and workforce!). But away from the quick-hit blog posts of the serial career advice-givers, the reality is much more complicated.

No Silver Bullet

There is no silver bullet question for uncovering the skills, determination, passion and integrity required for a successful career at SEI. Likewise, it’s not going to be established by running through a pro-forma checklist of questions used during each and every interview. For this reason, the interview process at SEI has many stages, is fluid and varied, and gives both sides the time they need to understand one another.

It’s absolutely necessary to take as much time as is needed, especially as the goal is to establish a mutual fit for the “last job you ever take”. I’m not going to attempt to contribute to the miasma of information on the Internet by suggesting what questions to expect, or what questions should be asked; there’s nothing mysterious to comprehend that an experienced candidate shouldn’t already anticipate. There’s no advice anyone can give you to make sure you become the right fit for a company’s culture… all the successful candidates joining SEI came as themselves, and each sequence of interviews has taken on a life of its own.

No Snake Oil

I will continue to search the articles, posts and books about “successful interviewing” and the “right way to interview” for a balanced point of view, but my experience interviewing for SEI has shown me that there is no snake oil or short-cut to figuring out a great match. Just ask anyone during the SEI interview process!

Matt Walton

About Matt Walton