Finding a terrific job is not easy. One way to ruin your chances is by projecting over-confidence. While employers certainly want to know what you can do for them, being too full of yourself will turn off most interviewers. Strangely enough, in one of the few job interviews in Scripture, the prospective employee seems to display exactly this wrong attitude—yet he gets the job! I am talking, of course, about Joseph. Understanding his behavior will provide us with some specific strategies for interviews and meetings.
After failing to find satisfying interpretations to his two disturbing dreams, Pharaoh recounted them to Joseph. (Genesis 41:8 & 15) Joseph then explained how the dreams foretold seven years of economic abundance followed by seven years of famine. Astonishingly, he then offers unsolicited advice. Joseph suggests that Pharaoh hire a wise administrator (implying that he himself is the ideal candidate) to supervise the economy.
Pharaoh should have said, “Thank you, Joseph but I asked you for dream interpretation, not for advice about economic policy.”
Pharaoh might have added, “Regarding your explanation of my dreams, I’ve heard many zany interpretations. Perhaps your explanation is true; if so you’ll be rewarded. Meanwhile, return to the dungeon from which we took you. If your interpretation turns out to be correct, we’ll release and reward you.”
Instead, Pharaoh listens intently while Joseph speaks at length. When Joseph finishes, Scripture tells us that Pharaoh and his servants liked Joseph’s ideas. (Genesis 41:37)
I would have expected Pharaoh’s courtiers to tell their monarch, “Your Highness, it’s always better to promote from within. The people will respond more obediently if directed by an experienced Egyptian bureaucrat rather than by this arrogant Hebrew ex-convict.”
Yet they accepted Pharaoh’s appointment of Joseph. What could possibly have occurred that day to persuade Pharaoh and his court that Joseph was special?
To understand the answer, we need to look at Psalms 81:6. While many translators struggle to make sense of these words of King David, the simple and direct translation of the Hebrew is:
He (God) gave testimony to Joseph when he went out over the land of Egypt; “Banks of I didn’t know I would hear.”
We can now look at these two Genesis verses:
A. …and Pharaoh dreamed and behold he was standing upon the river.
B. And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream, behold, I was standing upon the banks of the river.”
Ancient Jewish wisdom reveals that God told Joseph not only what Pharaoh’s dream meant but He also told him exactly what Pharaoh had dreamed in the first place. In his dream, Pharaoh saw himself standing literally on the water of the River Nile. Fearing ridicule when recounting his dream to Joseph, Pharaoh modified it. Instead of reporting how he’d seen himself standing on water, he added the words ‘banks of’ saying, “I was standing upon the banks of the river,” even though that was not how he had dreamed it.
When Pharaoh uttered those words, Joseph softly murmured, “I didn’t know I would hear the words ‘banks of”.” This shocked Pharaoh greatly and he confessed before his entire court that he had not, in fact relayed the dream exactly. This proved to Pharaoh and his staff that nobody more qualified than Joseph existed.
While we can’t expect God to give us inside information before a job interview, a successful applicant does homework and arrives prepared, knowing details about the company, the position, and how to add value. Calm confidence coupled with deep knowledge makes one appear desirable, not arrogant. A candidate who shows that he possesses extensive familiarity with the company causes the interviewer to think, “Can we find another like him?” (Genesis 41:38)