Do you see a connection?

This isn't the first time that the subject of closure has come up on this blog. In a previous post entitled Handling Non-acceptance, we told candidates not to focus on the things that they cannot change. Sometimes you will not know why you were not chosen for a specific position and you will need to rely on assumptions to move forward. Then in Managing Your Emotional Investments In a Job Search, we encouraged our readers to keep interviews in perspective. Being attached to every opportunity can be mentally and emotionally draining and can rob you of a true opportunity when it comes around.

In this post, we are going to assume that the advice in the above mentioned posts didn't quite stick. Intellectually you understand that rejection isn't personal. You can even see how the concept of leaving the interview at the interview would reduce some stress. But at the end of the day you still find yourself waiting by the phone to hear back from a potential employer unable to breathe until they let you know one way or the other. If this sounds like you or someone you know, then read on.

In order to make sense out of the need for closure, it may help to know that our brains are actually wired to see relationships holistically. As the shapes above show, we tend to see things in wholes instead of individual parts. Most people would describe the shapes as a circle and a square with missing pieces rather than a bunch of disconnected lines. This is known as Gestalt Psychology.

Translated to the job search, this means that when we speak to someone about an opportunity we are going to automatically expect it to come "full circle"--pun intended. When it doesn't, our brains tell us that something is missing and this is considered a psychological threat. What happens in many cases is that we assume that we have somehow caused the "missing" piece by lacking in some way.

In order to overcome this, we must be able to see the stages of recruitment as "whole-parts". Based on the Whole Part Whole (WPW) Method used in some sports training and other modalities, the participant is trained to see that each component is a whole within itself. An example from basketball would be that while the ability to shoot free throws are a part of a game, the ability to shoot free throws is also a skill on its own. In other words, an interview is part of getting a job, but it is also just an interview.

If you are following this logic, then you can see how "leaving the interview at the interview" is possible. This is accomplished by:
  • Seeing the whole. The big picture. In other words finding a job.
  • Gaining an understanding of how the parts relate to the whole. These are considered "whole-parts". Phone Screens, phone interviews, f2f interviews (how many rounds?), etc. Ask your recruiter for more information.
  • Focus on developing your skills in each "whole-part". Phone presence, f2f interview skills, follow-up skills, etc.
  • Approach each "whole-part" as a singular event. An interview serves its purpose in real time without being seen as making or breaking the opportunity. The goal is to have an excellent interview experience.
  • When reviewing the event, keep it in perspective. Don't think how you can stop losing opportunities. Concentrate on developing your "whole-part" skills.
  • Realize that it all comes together in the end. If you excel in your "whole-part" skills then the whole picture will eventually come together.
As you can see, overcoming the need for closure is more about what not to do than it is about doing some technique. The key is to keep the "whole-parts" in perspective. By seeing the "Whole-Part Whole", closure is integrated into the process as it moves step by step. Seeing the process this way reduces stress by releasing candidates from carrying the burden of their entire futures into every recruitment engagement.

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Comment by Pedro S. Silva II on October 21, 2009 at 9:13am
Simon, I tell candidates the same thing. "You're one person and you're looking for one job. Maybe your unique process may take you in and out of many doors and maybe you will have to meet many people along the way, but just keep going forward." Hiring can be a mystery sometimes and not every mystery gets solved. Either way we're going to have to do our best.
Comment by Greg Inguagiato on October 21, 2009 at 1:07pm
Simon, you are so on target I could have written this myself (but glad you did!). I use the interviewing process not only to screen, assess and evaluate a person's candidacy for a particular job, but to counsel, coach, and guide them through the entire job search process. I explain the "rules of engagement" if you will that are part and parcel of the recruiter-candidate relationship and refer back to these rules throughout the process. I can't tell you how many candidates call me back for job search advice even after I have had to deselect them for a particular job with my company. My wish if for every candidate with whom I interact, feel positive about the recruiting experience and about me. Greg Inguagiato.
Comment by Pedro S. Silva II on October 23, 2009 at 5:10pm
Sandra speaks the truth. It is a matter of relativity or perspective. Candidates don't see what we see and not enlightening them is a disservice to everyone who participates in the process. If they are more aware, they are more empowered. They're empowerment reflects upon us. In every case, if they win we win. We should leave them better off from having had contact with us because our fates are inextricably connected.

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