All of the people you meet in interviews evaluate you, at least unconsciously, as to whether you have a credible objective, how good a candidate you are, and how effectively you present yourself. Their evaluation and related advice could be very helpful, but they rarely give it, particularly if it could be perceived as being critical. If you can set them at ease, they might be willing to give you more candid advice.
Jim Gordon, at about 30, was a pretty successful sales manager when he had a job interview with Bill Robinson, the CEO of a medium-sized company. During the interview, Bill turned to him and said, “Jim, you make a really blah impression.” The remark shocked Jim. Later Jim realized what a favor Bill had done for him in making
him realize he wasn’t as effective getting himself across as he thought. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could get some of the impressive people you network with to be as candid with you in this way?
Another option is to ask, “If you were considering hiring someone for the kind of job I’m looking for, what would you see as my strengths and my weaknesses?” or, “How would you rank me? Why wouldn’t you rank me higher?”
If you make a poor impression on one person, you’ve probably been making one on others as well. Being aware of this problem will enable you to work on correcting it. The “invitation to criticism” technique may make the contact more
candid. This process can be powerful, but you should be selective in whom you use it with. You’ll probably feel more comfortable using it with people with whom you’ve developed a good rapport.