Thursday, December 2, 2010

Q+A: How to approach an interview

Cynopsis: Classified Advantage

Questions from our Readers
Answered by Michael Pollock

Q: I enjoy your contributions to Cynopsis and I have a question for you or your experts on the interview itself, three times I've had what I thought were great interviews with the potential employer saying to me "You're perfect, sounds great and we'll contact you" and then I hear crickets. The only feedback I've gotten is that they know I have the job skills, experience, etc but they didn't get to "know me." I am not certain what I'm doing wrong since I doubt they really want to hear about how I have two kids, two mortgages, blah blah blah and I also am not certain why they don't just thank me for coming in instead of going out of their way to say I'm "perfect" and "love your energy" and then nothing. Perhaps some advice on the best way to wrap up an interview or to leave a good impression?

A: You are right; they don't want to hear about your mortgages.  My suspicion is that you are presenting the right information about yourself but not in a sufficiently personal and engaging manner. They want to know how you'll fit in, how you'll go about what you have to do.

Try telling little stories about the projects you have done and use them to illustrate your obsessiveness, or passion or how well you led a particular team or how you overcame some specific set of obstacles.  Think about these stories as something that only you could tell.  They should demonstrate something about how you approach your work and your co-workers. These are the things that help them to get to know you.  Having the qualifications and experience is only half the battle:  do you have a sense of humor, are you curious, do you pay attention to detail and so on?  These are qualities that fall into the "knowing you" category. 

As you leave, you could say "I really enjoyed this interview, and I learned a lot from it ... in fact I am going to follow up on such and such a thing and will get back to you with what I discover."  This is not a script, but an attitude that says so much about you.  But of course  make it your own, otherwise it won't work.

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