Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dear CR: That Interview SUCKED!


This morning I had a terrible phone interview. The interview was for a position that I feel I am extremely qualified for, have relevant and appropriate experience with, in an environment I could excel. At the close of the conversation I was left feeling terrible that I had given such a bad interview. Being the type of person that dwells on things it finally dawned on me that I wasn't at fault for how the call went. In most cases the interviewer really drives the conversation not the interviewee and in at least 50% of the cases, the hiring manager/interviewer is TERRIBLE at interviewing. In this call, like many beforehand, I recognized the line of questioning and knew it wouldn't lead to relevant information that would help the hiring manager make an educated decision. I, like many times before, opted to answer his questions knowing the interview was going nowhere.

My question is this; in many cases in a career an employee is required to manage their boss (manage upwards). What are some tips and tricks you know of to help drive an interview when you are the one being interviewed? How do you direct the interviewer to ask better/relevant questions that will allow you to highlight experience that lets you shine?




My favorite technique is to get straight to what a person really wants. If you can get to the heart of what an interviewer is really looking for, you win. Sometimes I'll ask, "If you have to pick one person from multiple applicants, what one or two traits would make a person stand out as a clear winner?" If you can get an employer to answer that question, you'll have a huge advantage. Every employer has some sort of burning desire or bias, and finding out what that is will help you nail a job interview (or learn that you never really had a chance to begin with).

Let's say you ask an employer what they really want and get an answer like "I need someone who shows up to work on time, because that's been a problem for me with prior employees." Bam! You just learned that the previous (or soon to be previous) person was chronically tardy. Tell some story about how you couldn't stand the fact that at your last job you were always on time for everything and how others drove you bonkers by strolling in well past the scheduled start time.

Bond over mutual pain, but keep it lighthearted and to the point, because your still interviewing for a job and not shooting the shit with some old buddy. Interviews are about showcasing your skills, but they're more about relieving an employer's headache. Find the headache and be the aspirin.



  1. Thanks and regards for your valuable and interesting posting .

  2. Great advice! I usually ask "What is your ideal hire?" I then zero in on those "likes" and briefly explain how I meet those needs. Towards the end of the interview, I alway say that I'm more interested about the position than I was before the meeting to show my enthusiasm and energy.