Fill my eyes with that double vision
No disguise for that double vision
Ooh, when it gets through to me, it’s always new to me
My double vision always seems to get the best of me
Lyrics from the song Double Vision by the band Foreigner
Okay, so maybe I listened to Foreigner’s greatest hits this weekend. And maybe the song stuck in my head. But more than just some cheesy lyrics, if you’re going to nail your next interview, you’re going to need a case of double vision—an understanding of the existing vision of the team, division, or company and, your own vision for where things will and should be headed under your leadership.
Rearview vision. As a candidate, it’s easy to try to sell the interviewer on sweeping changes that you’d make if you were hired for the position before you have a solid understanding of why things were done a certain way in the past. And, in some cases that can be just what the doctor ordered. But in others, you could unwittingly step on the toes of those who worked hard to forge and implement that vision. Moreover, you may suggest plans that have been tried and failed. No one wants to hear about rehashed failures. These are often two of the most difficult aspects of coming into a new position because, as an outsider, you don’t always know if the person you’re replacing left a legacy or a disaster.
So, how do you respect the past while also bringing a new vision to the table? During the interview, listen for verbal and non-verbal cues. If you talk about carrying on the things that went well from your predecessor and the interviewer rolls his or her eyes, that’s likely a not-so-subtle cue that you should move on and talk about how you’re going to involve the team in charting a new course. Speaking of which…
Futuristic vision. No, not a scene from some new Sci Fi movie or action thriller starring Will Smith; rather, your view of what the job, department, and/or division could achieve under your leadership. Whether you’re the CEO or a junior employee, manage one person or 10,000, if you’re going to be a difference maker, you need to have a vision for the role.
Interviewers want to hear you talk about how you’d get your team involved in the process of redefining, or if necessary overhauling, the strategic vision. There are always going to be things that are working that you can build on and things that aren’t that you can improve upon. Scratch below the surface to identify opportunities that aren’t always obvious. Before your interview, talk to people inside and outside of the organization to get the lay of the land.
Most companies aren’t looking to hire candidates who will come in and continue with the status quo. The real rock stars are those who are able to understand and articulate their double vision. And, when they do, they not only showcase their understanding of the role, the company and the industry, they often walk away with the offer.
Shawn Graham is an Associate Director with the MBA Career Management Center at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and author of Courting Your Career: Match Yourself with the Perfect Job (courtingyourcareer.wordpress.com).