Discussion: December 22, 2009 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter
Usually the Readers’ Forum in the Ask The Headhunter newsletter starts with a problem or scenario posed by a reader. Then we all pile on it, here on the blog.
This week I’d like to pose a problem myself. The current edition of Wired magazine features an article about failure that occurs in science labs. It set me to thinking. (Everything I read flows through my headhunter filter.) How can this be applied to solve job hunting or hiring problems?
A sidebar in that article is titled How to Learn from Failure. It suggests that when scientific experiments fail, the outcome of the effort is an anomaly. Anomalous outcomes should makes us analyze failure in these four steps:
Check Your Assumptions
Ask yourself why this result feels like a failure. What theory does it contradict? Maybe the hypothesis failed, not the experiment.
Seek Out the Ignorant
Talk to people who are unfamiliar with your experiment. Explaining your work in simple terms may help you see it in a new light.
If everyone working on a problem speaks the same language, then everyone has the same set of assumptions.
Beware of Failure-Blindness
It’s normal to filter out information that contradicts our preconceptions. The only way to avoid that bias is to be aware of it.
Can these failure analysis tools be applied to job hunting and hiring? Here are my four suggestions about how to apply these tools to a failed job interview. Rather than think you failed at the interview:
- Ask yourself, “Is this the wrong job for me?”
- Explain to someone outside your business what the job is about, and what happened in the interview. Ask for their insight.
- Do (2.) with someone way outside your field. Ask your grandmother or a 12-year-old. If you’re forced to change the vocabulary you use to describe the failure, you might learn something new.
- You might believe that the salient take-away from a failed interview is that you failed at the interview. Is it possible you failed to pursue the right kind of job, company, manager?
I think there’s something here. Help me find it. How can these four failure analysis steps be used to learn from failed job interviews?