Debrief After Your Interview to Interview Your Best

August 17, 2008

There is rarely, if ever, a time when you will be hired following one interview. Even if you will be hired by the company where you first interview, you will typically go through multiple rounds of interviews. A formal debrief of your interview will give you the information you need to refine and improve your performance.

Consider the following areas for a comprehensive debrief:

Interview preparation:
Were you well prepared for your interview. Did you know the company, the industry, the job and who would be doing the interviewing? Did you read the latest news about the company and were you aware of their latest successes and largest challenges? Did you develop 5-7 good insightful questions to ask? Did you prepare and bring printed bound copies of an interview presentation?

How well did you manage the interview?
Were you there on time, properly dressed and carrying the right things? Was your body language, energy level and listening skills good? Did your create a good conversation? Did you express interest in the job and thank the interviewer for their time? Did you use your interview presentation in the interview or at least give it to the interviewer as a leave behind?

How well did you handle the interviewer’s questions?
Had you anticipated and prepared for the questions? Did any questions surprise you and trip you up? Did you answer as many questions as possible using success stories?

How confident and relaxed were you?
How confident and relaxed were you going into the interview. How nervous were you during the interview? 

How good was the interviewer?
Was the interviewer prepared and did she manage the interview well? Did she describe the job requirements, listen well and answer your questions. Did she put you at ease and establish a good rapport?

Positive VS Negatives:
What three or four things did you do particularly well and you want to continue? What three or four things did you do that needs improvement?

Debriefing an interview is a bit challenging because you have to evaluate your own performance. However, by reflecting on your performance in the above areas, particularly in writing, you will be focused and ready for your next round of interviews at the same company or next interview at another company.


Follow a Sales Process to Interview Your Best

August 10, 2008

The interview is a sales process, thus it makes great sense to use sales techniques and sales processes to interview effectively. Using a sales approach provides a terrific structure for preparing for the interview, presenting in the interview, and following through the interview.

A good sales process includes:

Understand the problem
What is the problem the new hire is being brought on board to solve? Specifically identify and address the problem from the hiring managers point of view. Even if it seems like the position is a “line job” with specific duties the job is in place to solve a problem. What is it?

Understand the benefits of addressing the problem
What is the benefit to the company of solving the problem. Focus on the benefit not just the act of solving the problem. For example, the company is hiring a staff accountant. The problem is that there is accounting work that needs to be done and the work is not getting done. The benefit to the company is that the company’s financial information is current and they are in compliance with accounting requirements. Talk about the benefits of hiring you not just being able to do the job.

Explain how it works
Explain just how you will solve the problem and provide benefit to the company. Often the best way to do this is to give examples from other jobs or school experience where you provided similar benefits. Be specific about what you did, how you did it, and the benefits you provided.

Pre-empt objections
Most probably you will not be a perfect match with the job for which you are interviewing. With some preparation, you will know where your weaknesses are. Proactively address your obvious weaknesses. “Even though I don’t have experience with ………. I can I can make up for that by……

Close strong
In an interview closing strong does not mean asking for the job (you will typically not get a straight answer anyway). It means expressing strong interest in the job and establishing the next step. The next step is typically when and how you should contact the hiring manager to follow up. Basically, you are asking for another meeting to continue the sales process.

We are all use to buying things and we relate to the sales process,  thus selling your services to a prospective employer in an interview is an excellent approach to landing the job. And as with all selling, the more confidant you are in your product and your sales skills the better the sales call.

Lean in to Interview Your Best

August 5, 2008

At the end of your interview it is important to ask the one most important interview question;
“Based on my background and skills what do you think will be the greatest challenges for me in this position?’

Once you have asked this question, you may hear a  challenge or a concern from the hiring manager. This presents a terrific opportunity for you to address what is referred to in sales as “an objection”.

Good sales people relish an objection because it gives them an opportunity to directly address the reason a person may be hesitant to buy. An unexpressed objection results in no-sale without an opportunity to overcome the objection and make the sale.

Many job seekers first reaction to an objection is to get nervous and then react defensively. An objection typically sounds like a criticism and is perceived as a threat to receiving a job offer. How you handle the objection may be the difference between a rejection and a job offer.

When you hear the objection, lean in to the objection. This means instead of withdrawing and reacting defensively, ask more about the objection. Get all the details. Use body language to actually lean forward showing that you are interested and not threatened or defensive. Once you have heard all the details and displayed openness, respond to the objection.

Using this approach, you will be able to clarify any misconceptions or misinformation. You may also be able to lay out a plan about how you will overcome real shortcomings. The take away here is that by “leaning in” and displaying confidence and strength, you may be able to change a rejection to a job offer.