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You see an ad for an open position. It specifies both the details of the job and the qualifications required of the successful applicant. Here’s the dirty little secret of what’s really going on.

The company has already decided what the roles are to make things work. Various levels of management above all the hourly people. Everyone has their little job to do and, provided they all do those jobs as specified everything goes just great. Or does it?

The problem is that people get in the way. Management has worked with the H/R department to come up with those position specifications. But, every manager (your future boss) figures he or she has a better grasp of what’s required than those H/R people in the ivory tower. They know that once the person is hired they’ll focus on some of the jobs more than others. The poor sap who eventually gets the job finds out that he really doesn’t have the authority he thought he would – his boss doesn’t want to let go of that power. He also finds that the magical phrase “other duties as required” takes on a life of its own, and he’s suddenly being asked to do things he never expected. Some of the tasks in the job description aren’t even assigned to the new hire. So, he has less authority and more responsibility. How to accomplish it all? JUST WORK HARDER! Right.

So, you’ve made it past the initial interview with the H/R flak and now you’re talking to the decision maker – the person who will decide if you get the job and, if so, how miserable your life will be once you’ve started. You need to figure out if you’re being interviewed for the advertised job or the real job. If you look really great for the advertised job your future boss may decide you won’t be a good fit for the real job. If you can, somehow, figure out what the real job will be you might get it.

What to do in the interview? Hey, ask a lot of pointed questions. But, you can’t really ask the hard questions because that would clue them in that you’re on to their little game. You must look professional, calm, enthusiastic; that you CAN think outside the box, but only when they WANT you to think outside the box. You’re a go-getter but not so much of a go-getter that you’ll actually want to do what the official job description says you’ll be doing.

Got all that? You’re being screened by H/R idiots (who don’t know what the real job is) and hired by fools (who aren’t even sure what it is they want you to do besides WORK HARDER).

It’s a great life if you don’t take it too seriously.