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Avoid a Three-ring Circus with These New Interviewing Strategies
I referenced the circus
because I just finished another interviewing book that recommends asking for the
job before leaving the interview. I can envision up to 15 qualified
professionals each asking the interviewer for the job. If each asks for the job,
doesn’t that make the question null and void … cross out each other’s
great gesture? If everyone jumps through the same hoop, performing like a good
little circus monkey, what’s going to set you apart from other candidates?
Giving this great thought,
I decided to look at the things that would impress me. I’ve been in the career
industry for many years, and if I hired individuals on a daily basis, I
wouldn’t be impressed by someone asking for the job. By showing up for the
interview, I know this person wants/needs the job. The real question is who is
the best fit for the position — the person that will add the most to my bottom
A number of new strategies
that I recommend include discussing the position at the time of scheduling the
interview, creating a position-specific presentation for the interviewer, and
shocking the interviewer with specifics on how you will transform their
I’ve seen many instances
where stepping up to a challenge have been very rewarding.
Benefits can cannonball into your favor because going the extra mile has
its own rewards. Years ago, for example, I heard a story about an executive who
was applying to a well-known jean company. Rather than taking the traditional
route, she opted to write her résumé on the back of a pair of jeans.
Wouldn’t you know it, she got the job! Another example I’ll share is of a
gentleman who wished to serve on a school board. Rather than submitting his
request, conducting a traditional campaign, and holding his breath, he started
his campaign by visiting school administrators and teachers on their “playing
field” and ask each their opinion on the condition of the school district. He
valued their input and focused on the key issues hindering the school’s
progress; and when it came time for the election, he easily won because he was
the only campaigner who had a full comprehension of what the school needed.
Each of these people did
the same thing: they went against the grain of their competitors. If there are 6
clowns stuffed in a 2-seat car, yet in the rear there is one clown riding a
float with fireworks coming off the back. Are you looking at the small car
stuffed with clowns, or are you looking at the great show behind the car?
Setting yourself apart has
become critical because — let’s be honest — the interview process is
flawed. The best candidate
doesn’t always get the position. It’s generally the person who says all the
right things, at all the right times. The person who has best performed their
stage act is not necessarily the one with the best skills. With this said, I
suggest doing something unique, yet professional, showing employers that you
care about their successes.
Probing for Information
Prior to the Interview
Some individuals love to
dish out dirt, so you need only ask the right questions beforehand. Holding the
answers to certain questions will make the interview saturated with elements
relevant to the company’s current situation and needs. Examples of questions
that you can ask a secretary or clerk (also referred to as the gatekeeper) at
the time of scheduling an interview:
Specifically, what are
the challenges in this position?
Can you tell me why the
person in the job is leaving/has left?
What problems are
keeping the department from running smoother?
Are there concerns the
department manager has about filling this position?
Is the department
behind or lacking support to complete certain functions?
Can you give me any
additional direction that would help me identify what elements of my
background will help your department manager meet his or her objectives?
On occasion, you only need
to ask one question, sit back, and listen. Remember to hear more than you speak,
taking notes throughout the entire conversation. You should cultivate enough
information so you can create a nice presentation for the interviewer on your
Create a Presentation
that Solves Problems
I’d hire the first person
that walked through my door and convinced me that they could make all my
problems go away. I know that sounds farfetched because realistically no one can
fix everything, but I would hire the first person that came close to being a
savior to my exhausting daily workload. Managers want to hire individuals that
will satisfy the job description, continue to solve problems independently, and
excel regardless of the pressure, all while making the direct manager look good,
As an example, imagine that
the gatekeeper said the department experiences huge backlogs of acquisitions.
Reference your own experiences to determine the types of obstacles the company
may be facing. Log each of your solutions and make notation of a couple of
solutions along with implementation procedures. Also, jot down the number of
acquisitions you can complete daily and how quickly you can catch up on any
backlog the company may be experiencing.
Give the interviewer an
offer that can’t be refused, rather than performing the same mundane act as
the other performers. Sales positions revolve exclusively around clients
(revenue); so if you KNOW that you can secure a certain prominent client then
offer it as an asset. You can say something like, “I noticed that S3
Corporation isn’t an existing client of yours. I know they spend up to a
million dollars per year buying products inferior to yours. I have a contact in
the business development department that would love to meet with us to discuss
ways we can save them money and offer a better product matched by your
award-winning service … once I’m offered the job, of course.”
Some newspaper publications
offer an archive for tracking a company’s history relayed in print. Learn
about new contracts awarded to the company, a new division or location, or
possibly, a new CEO. Mentioning current events within an interview shows that
you are taking an interest in the business. On the other side, you can use these
items as ammunition in your presentation.
You’ll WOW them only if
you do your homework. If you plan to attend the interview with all the magical
answers that everyone else practiced, then you should go out and play the
lottery. Your chances are stacked against you, especially with today’s job
market. The competition is fierce, so I recommend modifying drab strategies to
incorporate “death-defying” initiatives to get you to the other side of the
tightrope rather than falling onto the net.
Written by Teena Rose, a columnist, public speaker, and
top resume professional who provides
through Resume to
Referral. She’s authored several books, including "20-Minute
Cover Letter Fixer"
the Code to Pharmaceutical Sales."