Aikido and Job Interviews

I recognize that I’ve been a little quiet as of late. I could blame the holiday season, which is partially true, but there have been a number of new changes to my daily routine, and it has taken me a few
weeks to adjust.

Perhaps the most significant change is in regards to my occupation.
You see, last week I had the opportunity to start a new job at Microsoft. Now, under normal circumstances this wouldn’t have anything to do with aikido. But take a moment and do a few searches on the Microsoft interview experience, and you’ll find many blogs, articles, and so on about how grueling “the loop” can be. And indeed, the experience was one of the more intense ones I’ve encountered.

Like any company that finds itself in the enviable position of being successful and on the cutting edge (and whatever your opinion may be of the company, it is hard to deny that it does hold this position), Microsoft has been forced to really analyze potential employees. The result is a long, challenging interview process. At each step of the way, a candidate can expect to have his or her positions and opinions challenged. They do this on purpose–they want to see how you
react under pressure. In addition, they keep you guessing as to how many people you will interview with that day–so you never know if you are going to meet with four people, five people, or ten people. The result is a day where it is very easy to second-guess what your interviewers are thinking.

And it is here that we finally return to Aikido. Throughout my own interview experience, I found that the skills I have honed on the mat proved invaluable. Rather than respond to each challenge from a position of fear or aggression–which apparently are typical–I did my best to respond from a position of calmness. This proved extremely valuable when I was asked questions to whch I didn’t know the answer, in part because I was unafraid to tell them so, but also in part
because I was unafraid to try and find the answer–even if it meant I would find the wrong answer (which, in at least one case, I did). I found that I also was unconcerned about how long the interview process went, or what was going to happen next. My training, in this case, really allowed me to relax and take each moment as it came. The result was apparently very positive–I heard back within a week that they wanted to extend me an offer.

We talk so often about taking our skills off the mat. And, in the case of those of us who study aikido, we are often challenged regarding how our strategies apply in non-physical confrontations. This experience I’ve shared is just one example of how calmness and focus on the mat can lead to success off the mat. If you have a similar experience of
your own, I hope you’ll share it.

3 thoughts on “Aikido and Job Interviews

  1. Hi Dave,

    In 1977 the plant at which I worked closed and I had no marketable skill or so I thought at that time. I enrolled in a maintenance technical school for the building trades. During the electrical training phase I came to a realization that the true purpose of exams was not to torture but to discover what I had learned. So I did not study for the exams, instead I participated enthusiastically in all shop projects. I aced the electrical exam. Shortly there after I got another valuable lesson. The school’s “interview training” segment was taught by the school administrator who was a former personnel manager for a large corporation and he informed us of this: those who do the hiring are under pressure to fill a vacancy as soon as possible and to accomplish that they worked hard to weed out poor prospects as soon as possible. They need to get to the right person AND they are hoping the next person (you) is the correct one. I also realized that everything bought must be sold by someone and my immediate job is to sell my skills. Armed with that powerful ammunition, my first job interview right out of the box was a resounding success. I’ve never looked back.

    Congratulations on your discovery and your accomplishments. All achievements are due to correct attitude and not luck as some would have you believe. Aikido works well, doesn’t it?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s