I had a third interview with a company this week. I met the owner of the company at a coffee shop for a more informal one-on-one conversation. He informed me that it was down to myself and another really talented candidate. When I got to the coffee shop I found out that we would be joined by a third person, a colleague who is in HR and also a writer. I was a little taken aback by the surprise guest, but was willing to go with the flow and the challenge. After a great deal of back and forth and pertinent questions from the third person, the owner leaned in and asked what turned out to be a seminal question, one that will forever change the way I approach job interviews, and quite frankly, my life. This is the best recollection I can create of his question:
"What you've done is very successfully establish why you are the best fit for the position. Obviously, we wouldn't be at this point if you hadn't done that. But what remains unclear is, why are we, why is this company, the best fit for you?"
20 years of therapy resolved in one question. As women, as mothers, as working mothers, we are so used to accomodating workplaces, families, children, spouses, that we forget that we are at the center of our own equation, our own career and life epicenter. I realized in that moment that I had given absolutely no real thought to that question. I have become so engrained in making myself fit whatever situation comes along, that I had left the most important part out of the equation. Me. Going through this job search has made me realize that I am a little like all those women in the kingdom trying to fit their too wide, too small or too big feet into shoes that just don't fit, grimacing and pretending that grimace is a smile.
I took a deep breath and answered the question. Quite honestly, I don't remember what I said. But I was really glad to be asked to answer that question.
Whether or not I end up with the job, I will be forever grateful to the owner of that company who asked this question. And I will never need to be asked that question again.