10 Things You Should Do in an Interview (Part II)

8 12 2010

This is a continuation of Part I.  Here is number 6 of the Things You Should Do in an Interview:

6.  Be Proactive – Ask Questions!

This is one of the most critical steps to interview success!  It is commonplace for most interviewees to sit back and let the interviewer control and guide the interview.  The interviewer, typically, asks an opening question, such as “Tell Me About Yourself”, and then focuses on the details of the resume asking question after question.  The standard interview is a one-sided grilling in which you, the interviewee, only ask the bulk of your questions at the end.

Being proactive means “to intervene or control”.  Do you believe that you can be proactive and actually intervene and control an interview?  The simple, and yet challenging answer is “YES”!  We assume that the interviewer is well trained and well skilled in interviewing – WRONG (much of the time)!  We assume that the interviewer is enthusiastic and confident about conducting the interview – WRONG (much of the time)!  Most interviewers are not trained or skilled, and most do not enjoy conducting interviews.  They are programmed to ask certain questions and to rely on your resume and your responses to guide the interview.  They usually have so many other seemingly more important things to do that the interview is a major inconvenience to their daily work.  Plus, hiring a new employee will help them later, and not now when they have so much to do.  Many do not enjoy the interaction with strangers.  Many do understand the importance of the hiring decision, and they are, therefore, concerned about making a bad decision.

So, do not assume anything, and do not leave the interview in the hands of the interviewer.  You do have the ability and the right to change the course in a more productive and mutually beneficial way.

Start by stating that you are looking forward to the conversation and that to help both of you focus on the relevant aspects of your background and how it fits with their needs and the position, you would like to get some more information.  In this way, you will be able to share with the interviewer what is most of interest and importance to them.  Then, ask 3 sets of questions (ask them in your own words):

1.     What will I be doing in this position?  (What are the daily responsibilities, what other situations will arise, and what special projects might be assigned?)  Notice that you are using the word, “I” which puts you in the middle of the conversation.

2.    What are you looking for?  (What experience, skills, education, etc. are most important to you?)  Do not assume that you know what the interviewer is looking for based on a job posting, job description or other source.  Get it directly from the person with whom you are speaking.  The priorities will vary depending on who is interviewing you – e.g., the HR Rep, the hiring manager, the VP/Director, other peers, and other functions within the company.

3.    What are your expectations of me, after 3 months, 6 months, 1 year? (How will you measure my performance?  How will you and I know that I am meeting and exceeding your expectations?)

These 3 sets of questions will give you a lot more information than you started with.  It will allow the interviewer to speak (and relax) and explain to you their perspective and their priorities.  It will change the interview from a grilling session into a 2-way discussion!  You will engage the interviewer in a more interesting and stimulating discussion instead of the 1-way interview process they typically experience.  The interviewer will remember the positive experience of your meeting, which will set you apart from others.

Now, you know what you will be doing, what they’re looking for, and how you will be evaluated. Now, you can speak in a more focused and relevant manner, and explain by examples, how you match the position, and why you are interested.

With all this information, you will be in a much better position to answer the difficult questions such as, “What are your 3 strengths?”, “Give me an example when …”, “How would you handle as situation when …”, “Why should I hire you?”, “Are you interested?” and so on…  I will address how to answer tough interview questions in later blog posts.

A client of mine who had not interviewed for 17 years was extremely fearful prior to his upcoming interview.  I prepped him with this proactive approach, and he did exactly what I had coached him to do.  He returned from the interview with such excitement and confidence!  He shared that he asked the 3 questions upfront, and that the interviewer engaged in a 2-way conversation with him throughout.  Instead of my client feeling fearful and uneasy, he gained confidence, and was able to articulate how he matched the needs of the position.  And, best of all, he got the job!

To be continued …

For Part I, please go to: https://careerspecialist1.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/10-things-you-should-do-in-an-interview-part-i/

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