How do people answer the standard interview question: “What are you looking for?” or it’s more personal variation “What are you interested in?” Setting aside the obvious “Ever since my <insert here difficult experiance shared by you and interviewer> my passion is <insert target firm mission statement here>, why I’d do that for free if I could!”
There is nothing wrong with this question, I guess. The hiring process is all about finding a good match, and time is short. It is necessary to know what both sides are about, and I’m no longer surprised that HR and/or the interviewer hasn’t done any preparation. But for me one problem is that my interests are extremely diverse. The moment I say anything it seems to cause all kinds of unfortunate side effects; not the least of which is how it blinds them to other things I’m interested in.
When handling this question I find I recall the salesman’s rule: “never mention features.” I.e. if you say to the buyer “this car has whitewalls” you stand a high probablity that the next thing to happen is the buyer will say “Oh. I’m not really a fan of whitewalls.” So, for example I reply, as I did recently: “I’ve recently become interested applications of message buses, like AMQP, to distributed systems.” Which immediately got the “My group isn’t responsible for those whitewalls.”
I’m always touched when the interviewer mirrors back the interest i mention here and there thru out rest of the conversation. Though that, uncharitably, always feel a bit like a bad date.
So, how do other people handle this?