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Thursday
Sep 18th

Dont wing it: Preparing for an interactive interview

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By Julie Desmond

A candidate phoned in to say she'd had twenty-three job interviews and no offers. She was professionally qualified for these opportunities. She was well dressed and friendly, with a polished resume and firm handshake. However, she'd had so many interviews that she'd stopped preparing. Lost in a cycle of click-apply-interview-repeat, she'd burned twenty-three corporate bridges, and she was still unemployed. A candidate phoned in to say she'd had twenty-three job interviews and no offers. She was professionally qualified for these opportunities. She was well dressed and friendly, with a polished resume and firm handshake. However, she'd had so many interviews that she'd stopped preparing. Lost in a cycle of click-apply-interview-repeat, she'd burned twenty-three corporate bridges, and she was still unemployed.

Why do people go into an interview situation with their fingers crossed? Whether the position is at the entry or executive level, the "I hope they like me!" interviewing approach doesn't lead to quality career moves.

Candidates today have to engage in a discovery conversation exploring relevant, far reaching questions such as, "Do we share compatible values? Can I service this company's needs? Can they help me develop on the career path I've planned?"

Job seekers can level the playing field by purposefully preparing for every interview, considering each position from two angles: What do I want? And what does this opportunity really look like?

To answer the first question, line up a series of bullet points and list the industry, location and work environment you prefer; willingness to travel; short and long term titles you hope to achieve; and your pain threshold for salary. Keep the list handy and refer back to it occasionally. Applying for situations outside these parameters could be a mistake -- if you must do it, first rethink your parameters.

Angle number two, sizing up an opportunity, is more complicated. Obviously, internet-search the company, looking for press releases and inside information, but also check for casual chat pertaining to the company. Next, know how your skills line up against the job description. Finally, generate some outstanding questions.

Some of the most effective questions are regarding reporting structure. Who does this position report to? Is there a supervisory aspect? How many direct reports? Is this structure well established, in place for some time, or has the department recently undergone structural reorganization? Why is this position open? Will there be an opportunity to interview with people at multiple levels within the organization?

Use additional questions to determine whether your skills support the company's needs. This line of inquiry allows the interviewer to talk and requires a candidate to listen. Find out what challenges the department has faced recently. Are major projects on the horizon?

Following the discussion, review your lists to get a sense for how this opportunity aligns with your goals sheet. Put aside the glitz of a company's new headquarters, the corner office you noticed, the promise of travel or promotions in the future and mull over the information you know to be true about this position at this time. Thank your contact in writing, adding a line or two citing the value you'll bring to the company. Be succinct and specific.

The current Twin Cities job market across many industries is candidate-driven. Use this environment to find a role which aligns with your skills, interests and long-term goals; a role that meets the company's needs, and yours. Asking appropriate questions demonstrates your enthusiasm and commitment and provides the insight to help you make a quality "take it" decision.

Julie Desmond is an Executive Recruiter with Hunter Hamilton Professional Resources. Send career planning and search related questions to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
 

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