In a beauty pageant, the judges look over a slate of contestants, ask them a few questions, perhaps have the contestants perform a talent of some sort, and then all the contestants parade around the stage in fancy dresses or bathing suits. At the end of all this, the judges proclaim a winner. She cries because it’s so wonderful and all the other contestants congratulate her and then slink back home, depressed because they didn’t get the crown.
Somewhere along the line, people started treating job interviews the same way. We see the hiring manager as a contest judge who is to be feared and impressed. Instead of thinking, “what would I really do in this situation” we think, “what does this judge want to hear?”
The difference is at the end of a beauty pageant, the winner gets a crown, some money and the the obligation to ride on the back of a convertible in the town 4th of July parade, while the “winner” of the job interview “pageant” gets to spend 40-50 hours a week with the “judge.”
For more of my thoughts on why It’s a Job Interview, Not a Beauty Pageant, head over to BNET’s Career Blog.