The Interview: The ultimate sales pitch

Ryo Fukasawa on Flickr

So, you got a call back. You're excited. You've done your research and you're ready to go to the interview. Okay, let's revisit a few things to make sure you're really ready for the interview:

Before the Interview
Locating the Interview Panel is relatively easy. For starters, you're most likely going to have an entry level HR person who is going to go straight by the book. Either she is going to be over the telephone or face to face--either way, not a big deal. In my experience, these folks are easy to impress because they just listen for buzz words and check honesty within your resume. The folks who will be part of your operational interview are likely to be the management team of that department. LinkedIn is a GREAT resource for locating that information. That's your hint. Start there.

Brush up on your interview skills within a couple days of the interview that way it is fresh on your mind. Practice the body language techniques outlined in the book so that it flows more naturally during the meeting. Robin Ryan is a great resource because she has lots of free videos and blogs; follow her on LinkedIn and even sign up for her newsletters. 

Sports. It's important. I know they are boring to some people, but just do it! Find a sport you can stand and learn what makes it tick. Why do people enjoy watching it? What are the strategic plays? Can you anticipate the coach's next move? Employers like employees that can be easily coached and predictable/consistent just like the players in any sport. This way, they can deploy certain characteristics of employees where they see those folks fit. Baseball is an easy sport to pick up and it is followed by many people in the Business sector; it is a good team oriented game as well as room for individual achievement. Just an FYI, there's more to baseball than what meets the eye.

At the Interview
I personally hate it when people are waiting on me; I couldn't stomach being a doctor LOL! So, don't make your prospective employer/interview panel feel anxious by not wrapping up the meeting fast enough to get to your interview. Keep in mind that many of these folks are not professional interviewers; they are professionals at what they do. In short, arrive NO MORE than 10 minutes prior.

Dressing for an interview is not as tedious as some people make it. It's actually really simple: Be the professional you are, but dress for the professional you want to be. For most, this is the next level of management.

Oh, and another thing, be nice to the receptionist and everyone you meet. Not only is the receptionist the ultimate networking gatekeeper, but oftentimes interviewers will follow up with these folks to see how a candidate truly behaves.

During the Interview
First impressions really can make or break a job offer so make sure to read these key things in mind when you first walk in:
  1. Relax
  2. Breathe
  3. Relax
  4. Breathe
  5. Relax

Oh, and shake hands like you mean it. Don't do the weak, sloppy hand shakes that make me want to go and wash my hands. After you sit down, quickly assess the situation and body language of the interviewer(s):
  • Are They Experienced
  • Are They Nervous
  • Are They in a Rush
  • Are They Listening

You will see little ticks that give away what they are truly thinking and you need to be aware of them. If they are in a rush, slow them down. If they are nervous, crack a joke. If they're experienced, acknowledged that. If they't not listening, bring up something to get them directly engaged like something about their day to day tasks. The whole point is to slowly take control from them and control the conversation. I know this may seem a little different than normal people would recommend, but this is my experience. If I want a job somewhere, just put me in front of the decision makers and oftentimes I land the job because I give it to myself. :)

Be ready to answer those tough questions, but always PAUSE before you answer. This makes your answer sound less rehearsed and more thoughtful. The literature I mentioned earlier will be able to be focus on your direct tough questions like unemployment history and job gaps.

Another good thing to keep in mind in addition to already having the answers is to have spin off questions prepared! This will help you continue to dominate the conversation. Be ready to have your spin off questions/answers create nice segues to the other avenues of your interview. Be sure to notice the dynamic of how the conversation flows much better and less unpredictable. You got this, see? Oh, and another thing: don't provide information unless they ask for it. If you do, they will catch on that you're leading the conversation and may become offended. Set up the conversation to let them at least think they're in control.

Also make sure you have some questions for the interviewer:
  • Training Timeline
  • Current Issues
  • Advancement Opportunities
  • Productivity Projects
  • Discuss Company Growth/Decline and Reasons
  • Leadership Techniques/Employee Motivations
  • Retention Rates and Why
  • Timeline for New Hire/Recruitment (when to expect a callback)
  • Favorite Sport Team of Interviewer

After the Interview
When you can tell the interview is coming to a close because you just finished up your list of relevant questions, take control in closing the interview. Keep it brief. Talk about something light and personal that you discovered (like the sport team) and then bring it back to the highlights of what you can offer. End it with confirming when you should hear back. This shows interest in the company and position. Be confident. Be suave. Be relaxed. I don't care if you are none of these things, smile and PRETEND like you are Bill Gates or something. You have a job already *even if it is LOOKING for a job--that's your job* so just relax. 

Shake hands again--a nice, firm handshake. Ask to connect on LinkedIn, get some business cards, and note the address on their email signature. As soon as you get home, get a thank you card in the mail. Oftentimes, interviewers are not used to this kind of treatment, so you will definitely stand out. 

After everything is said and done, review what needs improvement and what you aced. Chalk it up and move on. Next interview awaits, just like players who lose a game. Don't dwell on the mistakes, but find opportunities to improve those areas.

Just relax because You've Earned It!

This is part 5 of a 5 part series. Want to start from the top? Click here:
Goals: What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

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The Interview: The ultimate sales pitch The Interview: The ultimate sales pitch Reviewed by Anonymous on 12:10:00 PM Rating: 5

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