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Big Company Person Interviewing at a Small Company?

This week, a friend referred someone to me who used to work at a global firm with a few thousand people on staff and offices around the world.

I asked him where he had been on interviews and what he liked and didn’t like about the places he had interviewed with.

“Well, I met with a small firm a few weeks ago, a family trust with about 20 people working for them. I thought it went well but I didn’t gotten a call back.”

He talked to me about the interview and spent some time talking about how well he handled the question about whether he would be OK working with a small firm. He said they seemed to be a little apprehensive.

He told me about the very logical way in which he answered the question (after all, he is an auditor) and that he thought he had impressed them with his answer.

I told him that the recruiter who had scheduled the interview had not done a good enough job dismissing their legitimate concerns about working at a “big company guy” adjusting to working at a small company. “If he had,” I continued, “they would not have raised this as a subject or used it as the basis for rejecting you.”

“A job interview is an exercise in theater. The person who does their job well, the person who may be performing the exact function best for a competitor may not be hired because they just don’t interview well enough to inspire confidence that they can do the job or fit into the corporate culture.

“In this case, what you should have done when asked about working for a small company is put a big smile on your face and brighten your eyes and say something like, ‘I’m dying to work at a smaller organization! Every organization has politics and ways things are done so I know I’m not walking into a place where none would exist. In big companies you just have it coming at you from so many different directions that I am looking forward to a chance at a smaller firm.”

And the key is in the acting . . . in behaving in a way that is congruent with their notion of how someone who really wants to work at a smaller firm should behave.

A little “acting” can go a long way in a job interview to make people believe that you are excited about an opportunity (that you know little about) and that you are passionate about what you do.

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