The Art of Interviewing

How many people leave an interview feeling that they did great, only to find out a few days later they didn’t get the job. What went wrong? You knew all the "right" answers and you were very up-beat and positive. Most people have the wrong idea about the interview process. 

You must stop playing the interview game; trying to impress and dazzle the Interviewer. Hiring managers are not looking for people who can interview well. Companies are looking for people who fit their style and will fit into their firm’s culture. 

Communication is the key to a successful interview. Engage the interviewer; get him/her talking and you'll improve your chances of closing the deal.  Asking the right questions, not just answering them. Establishing a two-way conversation is the way to find out what the interviewer is really looking for.

The objective of the interview is to get hiring managers to open-up and share information about the job, the company, and the working culture.  This way, you will get enough information to accurately evaluate whether the job and the working conditions are right for you.

To prepare yourself for a valuable interview you will need to develop a list of meaningful questions. Group your questions into two categories:

1.           Questions that show you've done your homework on the industry and their company

2.          Questions that demonstrate your knowledge, skills and experiences

It’s important to prepare custom questions for each job interview, because each company and each interviewer's hot buttons are different. There is no canned-interview speech. You need to be prepared to think on your-feet and flow with the conversation. 

Here are a few common questions you can use:

  • At my other job, management stressed problem solving and decision making. How are challenges handled here? [This indicates you can make decisions and solve problems. Listen closely to their response, they will tell you a lot about how management functions there.]
     
  • I understand that your competition is tough in this market. What is your strategy to increase market share? [This implies that you've done your homework on the firm and its competitors. Their response will give you insight to the firm's short-term and long-term plans.]
     
  • I'm familiar with (insert name of programs, software, whatever, etc.) What do you use here?
     
  • My department often collaborated with other departments on difficult projects. I remember one project that...
    How does your firm approach challenging projects? [This question conveys your ability to work as a team member. In return, you'll learn how their management handles difficult projects.]

Engaging in a deep conversation will shed light on where you stand. The object of these questions is to give-and-gain information. You will need about six to eight solid conver­sation-developing questions. Chances are you will only need to ask three or four questions to get the interviewer to open up.

To develop additional questions think about your skills, work environment and what you'd like to know about the new job, the managers and the company’s philosophy. The keys to your interviewing success are good questions and when to talk and when to listen. Look for opportunities to interject based on the questions you're asked, but don't cut the interviewer off. Practice how/when to nod as he/she talks to indicate you understand.

Taking a proactive approach in the interview will set you apart from those who believe in playing the interview game. Don't wait until the interviewer asks, "Do you have any questions?" By then it’s too late to start a conversation.