The Art of the Interview

The question about how to successfully conduct an interview is a question I get from candidates at least a couple times per week.  It’s a great question, so let me try to answer it in this week’s blog. 

Essentially, there are four things you can do to not only get the job, but perhaps more importantly, get the job that is the right one for you too.  You want to set the table for future success. 

Play Some Offense: Arm yourself with direct questions for the interview.  Don’t be a punching bag fielding a barrage of questions from the interviewer.  Have a list already written down.  Video interviews are great because you can literally have your list of questions taped to your video screen. 

Story-telling & The Mini-Story:  Instead of trying to describe every detail of a particular aspect of your experience, have several “mini-stories” in your head ready to deploy in response to a relevant question.  Think about a particular time when you went above and beyond the call of duty.  Storytelling is a very powerful way to communicate.  All highly successful people do this very well.  People will forget a list of details, but will easily remember a good story.

Future Colleagues and Managers:  This is critical.  Always insist on speaking with not only your future manager, but one or two of your future colleagues in the same department.  They probably won’t say anything negative, but with the right questions, you can learn all you need to know.  Here is a list:

Future colleagues: Ask them to describe the performance review process.  You are trying to find out if expectations are clearly defined.  Is accountability and ownership valued?  How does management communicate with the staff?  How does the staff communicate with management?  Is there a process for this?

Ask them what is it about the firm that they really enjoy. Why did the last person leave? Why is this position open? Ask them to describe the work culture.

For the manager: You want to find out exactly what skills are required (and valued) for this position?  Do they match yours?  What about attributes?  Do they reward initiative or is the attitude simply, “Trust the Process?”  The objective is to make sure your skills and attributes are in alignment with the organization and their strategic vision.  Otherwise, it will be a train wreck.

Meet in person:  If possible, you want to meet in person on the second or third interview.  I realize most hiring authorities conduct interviews virtually now for the sake of convenience, but asking for an in-person interview demonstrates commitment on your part, and also gives you more of an insider’s look at the firm and its culture.  Isn’t it worth it to drive an hour or two to make sure this is the right fit for you? 

During an in-person interview you will pick up on social nuances and really get a feel for the culture.  I highly recommend this.

Some of these nuances include is your manager a micro-manager?  Is he/she a people person or a stickler for details? And organizational freak? Clock-puncher?

Be observant.  Notice what is on the walls.  Observe everything.  Are the workers happy?  Are they working with a purpose or just going through the motions? 

When I visit a client’s office, I make it a point to chat up the receptionist.  They can be a fountain of information!

So much can be learned by having an in-person interview. Just keep in mind that interviewing is a two-way street. It’s the only way to ensure long-term happiness and success in your new position.

Hitting the SEND button now.  Have a great weekend.

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