Interviewing Musts

Date posted: March 2, 2009  
Filed under: Interviewing

©2009 Judy Rosemarin

Yikes, you say. Interviewing scares me. No need. A job is a need unfulfilled and an interview is a place where at least two people are nervous (you and the interviewer) , breathing the same air, sitting in the same room and trying to figure out if they like each other.

Not very scientific. Correct, because it’s not. Truth? Given two candidates who possess the same skills, bring the same style and have the same color eyes, the choice is always “Do I like you and will you help me?”

Now that may sound simplistic but , hey, that’s the bare bones of it.

So, here are some intervewing musts to consider.

1. Know your value. Your skills are not what people buy. They buy what those skills can do; increase or decrease something, make a difference, take things in a new direction, prevent losses. The best way to determine your value is to think about what three things you feel you have and can do that separate you from the rest of the pack. Those three things can act as your anchor and help you show your value as well as keep you in the harbor, even if the wind and water shift on you.

2. Know the needs/concerns of the company. Do whatever you can to vet the job; network, drill your search person, ask the questions that will help you key into the interviewer’s needs, style, history, background. There is almost no excuse to not know about the company. Really, folks. With all the information at the ready, you cannot go into a conversation without some prior knowledge.

3. Present positively. I hate saying this, because it’s so obvious, but folks, be sure that you look the part. Even if you are going for position that seems “lower” than you had hoped for, come in as if it’s “higher” and come across as professional. Look sharp and create a sense of a strong contributor to any company. A prior client of mine went into an interview for a part time position, but as a prior banker, still dressed the part and when the company met him, they immediately escorted him to the president of the firm. When he noted that he found it most unusual for a part time candidate to be interviewed by a president, she said, “You are way beyond part-time and we have another postion that has not yet been posted.” Guess what happened? He got the bigger job because he came across as himself!

4. Assure interviewer that you are going to take care of their worries. All interviewers are concerned about making the right or wrong decision. I remember when I was witness to a moot court exercise in a law school and after the two sides argued an appellate case, the faculty that acted as judges for the exercise told their students “Don’t fight with me. Just give me the facts so that when I go home tonight and have to decide on the fate of a person, I can do it with the facts and not your persuasive posturing.” What I made of that is that all decision makers of new hires are equally nervous but you never know they are. But, believe me, they have gnawing egos worrying about making the wrong decision. Pity the poor interviewer!

5. Have good stories to tell so they can really see what you have done. Stories stick. Make them very sticky. The way you do it is to get the results out first, “I was able to save my company 60% on backorders because….” That way you show your value first and your skills trail. There are other ways to tell stories and the most imporant is to think about what you want the listening to learn from it. It’s not enough for you to say “I am an accomplished SVP of Sales.” You need to show them with an actual story.

6. Know how to ask catalyst questions to spark conversation. Use open-ended questions more than closed ones. Use open questions that start with “Who, What, When, Where, How, Describe, Tell.,” because they will allow for a greater outflow of information from the interviewer. Questions which start with “Do, Will, Can, Does” will only give you narrow answers of “Yes” or “No.” You want content to flow as much as possible so keep those questions open.

7. Be an outstanding listener. Keep ears open and mouth shut unless you are responding to a question. Your internal chatter, or woodpecker, has to be silent. Listen to the interviewer’s words, tone, tempo, level of excitement so you can key into it with your responses.

8. Negotiate wisely.Know what your financial walk-away position is so you are not seduced by an offer only to find out that it’s way below what you can possibly afford to take.

9. Always follow up. I cannot tell you how many times recruiters have expressed their amazement on how people do not follow up after an interview. No matter how you felt it went, send a follow up that reinforces your enthusiasm for the position and the firm. Believe me, it can make a difference.

10. Be yourself, no one else is qualified. When you interview, stay strong and confident. Know that the interviewer wants to fill the position, do the deal, move thiings along. Don’t try to be what the itneveiwer wants, be yourself so that when you are selected, you can start immdiately authentic and feel good that they hired you, not some false self or pretend person, but you.

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