The real goal of networking and job interviews, and it’s not to land a job offer

Can you land a second meeting with these two?

Two big mistakes when networking and interviewing

Due to popular belief, the goal of the job interview is not to land a job offer. There are two big mistakes candidates make in the first interview.

  1. Hoping to receive an offer when networking or at the end of the first interview
  2. Trying to land a job offer when networking or during a first interview.

Landing a job offer is a series of steps. We need to make sure we get through each step before we think about the job offer.

The goal of the first few interviews is to make it to the next interview. It’s a different mindset than focusing on landing a job offer in the first few interactions.

Stay focused

Hopefully, this difference in mindset should relieve some of your anxiety in the first few interviews. Candidates who focus on a job offer vs. landing the next interview will lose out to candidates who focus on just landing an interview. 

Dating Example: If we are interested in a long-term relationship with a potential significant other, the goal of the first date isn’t to get to get engaged, married, or decide on your unborn children’s names. The goal is to land the second date. The first date is just a meeting and greet. We want to make sure the two parties share common interests and dreams. It’s the same with the hiring manager and the candidate. The question we want to answer is:

Are we compatible?

The goal of networking is to make new relationships, keep relationships current, or rekindle old relationships. It should be a two-way street where both parties walk away feeling like they both gained something out of the meeting and want to meet again. If the two parties don’t want to meet again, they probably won’t want a long term relationship.

Our network might have gotten us an introduction or landed a job, but what did we do for our network? The people we reach out to and who help us land a job will probably be the same people that help us with our next position. We need to give back to the network. In the least, we need to offer help.

The goal of networking and first interviews is to learn about each other. So researching our connection on LinkedIn, Google searches, company web pages, and the products or services they work with are good places to start.

Land the next meeting

The goal with a 20-30 minute networking meeting isn’t to land a job. The goal of networking is to land a second meeting that will go into more depth and explore more ideas. That meeting can go for an hour. A shorter first meeting is just showing respect. 

Like anything, we get out of our network what we put into it. By asking the following questions, you will let your network know you are there for them.

  • Are you looking for any introductions to specific people or disciplines?
  • How can I help you? What can I do for you?
  • What can I teach, show, demonstrate for you?
  • Cake and cookies are always good.
  • If you are meeting over coffee, buy the coffees!

Key Takeaway: The goal of networking and the interview is to land the next meeting. 

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