be a great champion, you must believe that you are the best.
are a special person. You know it. Your Mom knows it. Your Dad knows it. Your
siblings know it (but probably won't admit it to anyone else). Your Mom really
knows it. Your friends and relatives know it. But unless you convince the
interviewer of your special talents and abilities, you will fade into that great
dark abyss of Interviews Lost.
Study this Section. Get comfortable with the techniques and tactics before your first interview. Remember, every interview counts. Every time you interview successfully, you move one more golden step toward the job offer and career of your dreams.
on one of the bullets above to go directly to the topic of your choice. Or click
on one of the links below to directly access the information you are seeking.
"Next" will continue to take you sequentially through information on
it seemed to go so well! We talked about everything...campus life ...the
weather...the football season. I just don't understand why I got a rejection
the interview that gets too chummy. It may be that the interviewer has already
rejected you and out of politeness passes the remaining time talking about
everything but you.
truth about interviewing is that most initial interviews only last about five
minutes. Oh, sure, the actual interview always takes longer than that. Twenty
minutes. Thirty minutes. Sometimes even an hour. But the interview is usually
over in five minutes or less. If you have not convinced the interviewer by the
five minute point that you are the right person for the job (or at least a
contender who should be taken to the next level), it can be next to impossible
to recover. Recoveries do happen. But they are very rare.
that first five minutes of the interview, I will have noted many critical
aspects. Your appearance. Your grooming. Your handshake. Your personal presence.
Your eye contact. Your articulation. And, most importantly, your personality.
Notice that I did not mention anything about your coursework, your GPA, or your
work experience. That is what got you to the interview in the first place. But
it is the "soft factors" that will take you to the next level.
taken the right courses, having good grades (critical!), and having related work
experience are all important selection criteria. But they do not matter one iota
if you are not a strong personal fit for our company.
The truth is that most interviewers are seeking individuals who are able to personally present themselves well in a face-to-face interview. They are seeking to recommend those who will be a good reflection upon themselves and their selectivity. So most interviewers naturally gravitate to specific "critical success factors" that have worked for them consistently.
matter how good you look on paper, no matter how well you present yourself, no
matter how well you answer their questions, you will not get the job unless you
make a personal connection with the interviewer. I need to know from the very
start that you are someone I can trust to represent me and my company. How do
you establish that trust? Simple. At the very beginning of the interview, when
the introductions are being made, concentrate on looking directly and solidly
into the interviewer's eyes, giving them your sweetest and most endearing smile.
I tend to think of it as a "shy smile," or, if we can venture into the
bounds of cuteness, a "cute smile." The bottom line is to make it a
warm and friendly smile. Then think about the fact that you are truly pleased to
be there in the presence of this person. Establish that personal connection both
physically and mentally with the interviewer.
do you know when the connection is made? When they return your smile in a
comfortable, relaxed manner, you are connected and ready to communicate on a
personal level. Remember, I only hire people I am comfortable with. If the
connection is not made, I won't hire. So take the time to establish that
its simplest form, the interview consists of three distinct steps:
is vitally important to understand these basic steps in order to be successful
in your interviewing. Each step carries with it a different focus and emphasis.
Each step has its own protocol and requirements. And successful completion of
each step is critical for you to go on to the next step in the process, whether
that be another interview or the actual job offer.
is important to note that there is a dual responsibility for successful
completion of each of these steps. The employer has a responsibility to follow
through in each step, yet you have a greater responsibility. If the employer
fails in his responsibility, the company will potentially fail to hire a
qualified candidate. But if you consistently fail in your responsibility, you
will fail to be hired. So you need to take personal responsibility for your side
of the interview process.
establishing rapport step is where the vital first impressions are formed. Some
employers will claim to be able to make a decision about a candidate in thirty
seconds or less. The truth is that you will set the tone for the
through your physical appearance and initial responses. If you start off poorly,
you can recover, but only after a herculean effort. Your personal appearance
will speak volumes before you ever utter a word.
interviewers are analyzing you in reference to the company culture. Does this
person fit in? Would this person represent our company well? Would others feel I
made a good selection in recommending? And the small talk is actually big talk,
since it will greatly affect how you are perceived in the eyes of the
interviewer. It's not necessarily the words you say, but how you say them.
verbal articulation and vocabulary will be noted, especially any variance,
positive or negative, from the standard. If you have done your interview
homework and have fully researched the company, the words will flow smoothly. If
not, it will show. This is where your positive attitude and confidence will
establish the tone for the interview. And this is the step during which you have
the opportunity to make your personal connection with the interviewer.
the gathering information step, the employer will be asking questions and
matching your answers against their critical success factors. Some of the
questions will be closed-ended, such as "What was your GPA?" Others
will be open-ended behavioral questions, such as "Can you give me an
example of a time when you had to make an unpopular decision?" While
preparation is important, your honesty and sincerity in answering should be
evident. Most interviewers are keenly aware of when they are being snowed. The
questions in this step will usually be probing questions which drill deep into
your background, attempting to get past the interview veneer. Although you may
have pre-sold the interviewer in the establishing rapport stage, you will need
to solidify the employer's view in this stage. The outward questions are
designed to answer the inner doubts. You will be judged on attitude (Are they
always this pleasant or is there someone evil lurking beneath the surface?),
work ethic (Will they really work hard or are they just looking for a cushy
job?), intelligence (Does this person really understand the industry concepts or
is he reaching?), and honesty (Is the person really this good or are they just
will be subject to the individual whims of each individual interviewer. Often
not by design, but due to lack of training. The only individuals who have truly
been trained to interview (Human Resources) usually do not have the hiring
decision. So the hiring manager interview is usually less structured and more
subjective. And in the end, an imperfect decision will be formed from an
imperfect interview process. If you have not sold the interviewer by the end of
this step, you will have great difficulty in resurrecting.
the close step, the interviewer will set the hook for the next step. If you have
succeeded to this point, the conversation will center around the interviewer
selling you on the company and the next steps in the hiring process. If you have
failed to this point, the conversation will center on the football team, the
weather, or any other neutral subject which provides for a clean disengage. If
your interview was successful, there will usually be an indication of future
steps. You may be given further company information which is reserved for only
the select few.
matter what your view of the interview to this point, it is important to
personally close the interview by establishing continuity of the process.
Understand what the next step will be. "We will be reviewing all of the
candidates and getting back to you," is not necessarily a close-out,
although it is the standard response when there is no interest. Make certain you
understand the next steps and be prepared to follow up on your side. Always
pursue each interview as if it were your last. You can always back away from it
later if you truly have no interest, but you cannot back away from a company
that you failed to impress.
Understanding the basic steps of the interview is only the starting point. You need to be fully prepared for different personality styles, different interview styles, and different questions. You need to master your ability to present the very best you.
technique is the secret to successful interviewing. If you read nothing else,
read this technique. There is a simple key to success in interviewing that very
few people utilize. It is the process of mirroring the personality of the person
to whom you are speaking, a process that I refer to as "Personality
Matching." It is based upon the proven fact that we like people who are
like us. It is the halo effect in action--anyone who is like me must be a good
person. Result? Instant rapport.
good salesperson is aware of this simple technique. Want evidence? The next time
you get a call from a telemarketer, do not hang up. Instead, stick with them a
few minutes just to hear their pitch. You will probably know pretty quickly if
you are dealing with a "greenie" who is reading from a script or a
seasoned professional. If it's a greenie, give them a polite "no thank
you" and hang up. But stick with the pro through the entire call. Why?
Because now we are going to have some fun.
the beginning of the call, talk to them in a very quick and upbeat voice,
possibly somewhat higher in pitch. If they are good, they will follow right
along with you, matching your tempo and pitch. If not, they are still a greenie,
operating in their own little world--end the call. But if they follow along,
here comes the fun. Gradually slow down your rate of speaking and lower your
voice in both volume and pitch. Guess what? The true pro will follow you all the
way down. Surprised? Don't be. Just as a telemarketing pro is trained to do this
(and at this point may not even be conscious of what they are doing), any good
marketing person does the exact same thing. Whatever the industry, the most
successful salespeople are the ones who meet you (the customer) at your level.
the same way, the best interviewees are the ones who have the ability to meet
the interviewers at their level. "Wait a minute, shouldn't that be the job
of the interviewer?" No! The only interviewers who have actually been
trained at interviewing (Personnel/Human Resources) are usually not the ones who
make the final hiring decision. Even some of the best interviewers are totally
unaware of this technique or are unwilling to apply it.
how does one do this "personality matching thing?" First match the
voice and then the physical characteristics of the interviewer. In matching the
voice, the most important aspect is to match the rate of speaking (tempo), then
match the pitch. In matching the physical characteristics, it is most important
to match (or at least reflect) the facial expressions, then the posture (sitting
back or forward, etc.). Although you should not be trying to "mimic"
(like a mime in action), you should attempt to closely match him or her.
be effective with this technique, you need to first understand your own
personality range. For some of us, it is quite wide and variant. For others, it
may be more narrow. As an example, I consider myself to have a very wide
personality range--I am very comfortable in matching both the very flamboyant
and the very subdued. Each type is at an extreme end of my personality range.
Most people, however, operate in a somewhat narrower personality range. The key
is to be able to identify your personal bounds of comfort.
what do we do if the person we meet with is talking a mile a minute? Should we
try to artificially match that person, if it is outside of our personality
range? Quite simply, no. To attempt to act like someone we are not would be
"faking it." It's better known as being two-faced and in the business
world it can be a real killer. Some people end up getting sucked into this trap
in order to get the job, then go through a continual living hell as they are
forced to fake it for the duration of the job. Don't do it. But you should be
aware of what your personality range is and be willing to move fluidly within
that range to accommodate the personality of the individual with whom you are
matching does not mean perfect matching (it never is). It does mean that we
should do our best to come as close as possible to matching the other person's
personality within the bounds of our own personality range. Keep in mind that
there is no "perfect personality" (or perfect anything on this earth,
for that matter) since what is perfect to one will always be lacking in some way
to another. Perfection is relative to the recipient. Remember that.
a side note, think about someone you truly dislike. In most cases, it's because
the person is outside your personality range, usually in the upper extreme (too
loud, too pushy, too cocky, too egotistical, too stuffy, etc.)--they are
"too much" of something that you do not embrace in your own
personality. If you have a "too much" area in your own personality,
you are best advised to bring it under strict control, not only in interviewing,
but in your life in general.
If you put into practice this one technique, you will likely increase your chances of success dramatically, and not just in interviewing. Personality matching is a technique that you can use in virtually all areas of human communication.
Handshake Matching Technique
the same principle of the Personality Matching Technique to handshakes. Don't
get confused by the "too hard" or "too soft" handshake
psychology baloney. There is no absolute when it comes to handshakes because the
effectiveness of the handshake is defined by the recipient. So is the handshake
unimportant? No. But it would be wrong to attempt to come up with "the
perfect handshake." There is no such thing, since each person receiving
your handshake has their own definition of perfection. It's relative to the
person who has your fingers in their grasp. Therefore, a truly effective
handshake is going to be a "mirror" of the handshake being offered.
Match the person's handshake the same as you would their voice or posture.
personality matching is dynamic and takes place over an extended period of time,
the handshake lasts just one to two seconds. So how do you adjust? Use a medium
grip handshake, placing your hand so that the soft skin between your thumb and
forefinger comes in contact with the same location on the recipient's hand. Then
be prepared to squeeze down on the gorilla or lighten up on the softie, as
necessary. Don't get into a wrestling contest. Again, just as with personality
matching, you don't have to match the extremes. Just move to that end of your
"handshake range." Practice a few times with a friend. Or better yet,
practice with a loved one.
is not a science. Nor is it an art form. It is simply an imperfect form of human
communication designed to increase the predictive validity of potential
employer-employee relationships. And it is very imperfect.
are basically eight types of questions you may face during the course of an
is interesting to note that the first four types of interview questions listed
have a predictive validity for on the job success of just 10 percent. And 10
percent predictive validity is the same level that is generated from a simple
resume review. Math questions increase the predictive validity to 15 percent
(since it tests intelligence, commonly a key competency for most positions) and
case questions raise the predictive validity to 25 percent (and slightly higher
for consulting positions). Behavioral and competency interviewing, on the other
hand, yield a predictive validity of 55 percent. Still far from perfect, yet
much more reliable for most interviewers. Interestingly, the first four question
types are still the favored approach by most untrained interviewers, simply due
to lack of experience. Behavioral and competency interviewing is gaining greater
acceptance by trained interviewers because past performance is the most reliable
indicator of future results, especially when it is tied to the specific
competencies for the position. Companies such as Accenture have modified this
approach with specific critical behavioral interviewing to target those
behaviors which provide the highest correlation with the required competencies
for highly predictive positive results.
interviewing can often be the most difficult type of interviewing, both for the
interviewer and the interviewee. For the interviewer, it requires understanding
the competencies required for success in the position, which often can include a
detailed analysis of the position as well as current employees who have
succeeded in the position (and their common competencies). Yet when performed
accurately, it can produce highly successful results.
example of a competency is intelligence. The specific competency for a position
may require someone with a minimum intelligence level. Competency-based
questions which can probe this competency could include:
are just a few sample questions on one specific competency (intelligence). Other
competencies which may be measured may include creativity, analytical reasoning,
strategic skills, tactical skills, risk taking, integrity, drive, organizational
skills, teamwork, willingness to change, enthusiasm, ambition and life balance,
just to name a few. A fully developed competency model may have as many as 30-50
different competencies that are being evaluated. And yes, it can produce a more
grueling interview process.
the interviewee, it may not be readily apparent that the interviewer is
evaluating you on a competency-based model. And even if you are aware of a
competency question, you likely will not know what the requirements are for the
competency for the position. Just because there is a competency being measured
for a position does not mean that it must be at a high level for success.
Successful competency interviewing focuses on those key competencies which are
critical to success in the position.
how do you answer competency questions? First, by probing the key competencies.
The opportunity you have to ask a question in a competency interview (or almost
any in-depth interview, for that matter), it should be this one:
stated in another format:
that with both questions, you are hitting on hot button phrases ("key
competencies" and "critical success factors"). In fact, if you
ever hear the phrase "CSF" being used in a business setting, they are
likely not talking about a "Captivatingly Stunning Female"
but rather about "Critical Success Factors." Or
"CSF's" for short.
question will drill to what the interviewer considers to be the key competencies
for the position. It will then be your responsibility to answer how you fit each
one of these competencies. There are three approaches you can use to answer:
must be ready to align these competencies with your background in order to win
the position. Don't worry though, since almost none of your competition will be
going this extra step. Just by making a sincere and focused effort, you will set
yourself far apart from the field.
P.S. Don't be surprised when you get a different answer to this question from each interviewer. Seldom is an employer so well organized and process driven that all of the interviewers are in complete synch on the top three competencies needed for each position. But use that diversity of opinion as an opportunity to emphasize those aspects of your background that are the most important for each individual interviewer.
your side of the desk, the behavioral interviewing approach can appear somewhat
difficult at first. The interviewer will be consistently drilling down to
specific examples in your past. When you have difficulty coming up with a
specific example, a well-trained behavioral interviewer will not let you off the
hook, but will provide you with a prompt to continue thinking until you can
provide an example. The dreaded silence which follows can be uncomfortable. Very
uncomfortable. Unless you are prepared in advance.
you consider the variety of questions which can and will be posed over the
course of a series of interviews, keep in mind that you will not always have the
right answer to every question. But if you are well prepared, you will have a
variety of examples to draw from which will give you the background to formulate
Behavioral Answering Technique involves answering questions with specific
examples, whether or not you have been asked to provide them. This technique
works in lockstep with an interviewer who is following a behavioral interviewing
approach, yet it works even better with those who are not. Because you will
always be providing examples and stories which make you a real person. With real
experiences. Real experience that can benefit a future employer.
So as you go through the exercise of interview preparation, carefully consider all questions in an "example" format. Keep in mind the "Can you give me an example . . . " follow-up that is the cornerstone of the behavioral interviewing approach. Be prepared to use examples from your work, classes, and extracurricular activities. And be ready to offer up not just any example, but your very best example.
you have grown accustomed to the Behavioral Answering Technique, you can expand
your answers by turning your examples into compelling stories. Instead of merely
providing an example that suits the question, weave the example into a
compelling story with personality, flair and interest. Captivate your audience
by providing the details and nuances that bring your story to life.
yourself the author of a piece of fiction. As you put your plot into words, you
must give life and meaning to the characters and surroundings. Provide the same
in telling your compelling stories. Build the framework and background for the
story. Add the elements of interest and intrigue. Give the plot twists. And show
how our hero (you) saved the day in the end.
all have compelling stories in our past. We tell them to our friends, our
family, our loved ones. We laugh. We cry. And our hearts yearn for more. Yet we
sometimes lose these stories over time, or bury them in our long-term memory
bank, only to dredge them up at reunion time.
key to retaining these compelling stories for your interviewing is to write them
down. Go over the questions and bring to mind the stories you can weave to
provide your example in living color. And as another compelling story occurs to
you or as you find yourself in the telling of another interesting tale, ask
yourself if the story will provide potential substance in your interviewing. If
so, write it down.
a period of time, you will have a collection of compelling stories to guide you
through your interviews. As you become proficient in angling these stories to
fit your needs, you will find yourself steering to these stories to illustrate
example of a compelling story was told to me by a recent grad, who answered my
question about her organization skills by telling me how she planned and
organized the alumni dinner during homecoming weekend, including full details of
the management of twenty different student volunteers and coordination with six
different campus departments. The event was a resounding success, but there were
several challenges which she needed to overcome. And each of these challenges
provided a compelling story of its own, as she was able to show her ability to
plan, organize, and develop a team toward eventual success. In the end, she
received a personal letter of recommendation from the President of the
university, which she presented to me as validation of her extraordinary
compelling story was given to me by a current student in reference to a question
about his lower than expected grade point average. He related to me the amount
of work which he had put in to finance his college education, averaging thirty
hours per week and occasionally putting in as much as fifty hours per week. He
was eventually promoted to department manager, even though the employer knew he
would be leaving after completing his degree. He recounted the story of the
meeting with the employer in which he tried to back away from the management
responsibilities, asking that one of the other department employees be promoted.
The employer called in the four other workers in the department, who each
personally asked that he take on the job as their manager. This student
successfully shifted the focus from his lower than expected grades to his
outstanding performance on the job by the use of a compelling story.
do you know if your story is connecting with the interviewer? By eye contact.
This is where the interviewer will show their interest. If you are not
connecting with your story, decrease the amount of detail and drive home your
point quickly. Depending on the personality type of the interviewer, you may
need to adjust the length of the story, yet compelling stories work with all
personality types. With the extreme driver or analytical personality types, you
will need to keep the details to a minimum, while quickly making your point.
Usually two or three shorter stories are better than one long story. At the
other extreme, for feeling personality types, you will perform better with a
longer story and more details. How do you detect the difference in personality
types? By continuously striving to stay personally connected with the
interviewer. If this connection appears to be lost or fading during the telling
of a compelling story, shorten the story and come to your point quickly. On the
other hand, if you have a captive audience who is hanging on your every word,
provide all the necessary details.
The key to using compelling stories is that stories are remembered. Stories are what make you human. Stories are what put a face on you in the mind of the interviewer. And stories are what they will come back to when you are being sold to others internally. When that time comes, you have given your interviewer ammo for helping others to see why you should go on to the next step in the hiring process. Or be offered the job.
you are succeeding in presenting a series of compelling stories during the
interview, you will likely develop a rapport which places the communication on a
more interactive level.
as you are presenting information during the interview, you may need to test the
waters with the length of your answers. This can be done easily with the
Pregnant Pause. As you are telling a story or example, pause at the conclusion
of the story. This will be the cue to the interviewer to take back control with
another question or redirection of the original question. But if the interviewer
continues eye contact during the pause, use this as a cue to go on and provide
interviews do not have established ground rules, agendas, or programs. They can
and do change and adapt based on the interaction between the interviewer and
interviewee. So how long should your interview answers typically be? It is
always a good idea to keep your answers within a two minute maximum. But you
will have no idea at the outset if the interviewer has two questions or twenty.
By proper use of the pause, you give the interviewer the opportunity to stick
with their overall plan and schedule. And, if appropriate, you can continue to
give further details or an entirely new example.
side note to the pause is the converse reaction--an interviewer should not have
to interrupt your answer. If you are interrupted, give control back to the
interviewer. Take it as a tip that you will need to shorten and tighten up your
One additional side note: never interrupt or finish a sentence for an interviewer. Even if they talk extraordinarily slow, be patient. Remember, they are the one who holds the ticket for admission.
you want to add credibility to what you say about yourself, tell the interviewer
what other people have said about you. The best quotes are not words they others
have said about you to you, but about you to others. The best way to provide
this information is to quote the other person, referring to yourself in the
boss always said that if something needs to get done, give it to Jane and you
know it will not only be done right away, it will also be done right."
professor once told my academic advisor, 'Tim is the one person I can
continuously count on to give a 110% effort in every class.'"
coach called me 'The Dave' and coined the phrase, ‘Give it to The Dave’ when
he had a game that needed saving. Even now, after I’m no longer on the team,
he still uses ‘Give it to The Dave’ as his way of saying that it’s time to
put in the closer to win the game."
When you can quote what others have said about you, you have elevated the view of who you are to the shoulders of others. From that vantage point, your value increases substantially. Take note of what others say about you. And be ready to quote the quotables.
there ever been a time in your life when you saved the day? “Hero” stories
almost always make compelling interview stories. Was there a time when you put
in the above-and-beyond effort? Or maybe a time when you did something that
dramatically changed the course of events (for the positive, of course). Or
perhaps even a time when you were a true hero, by saving someone’s life or an
act or great bravery? If so, work the story into your collection of compelling
difficulty with true hero stories can be in finding a successful bridge to the
story. But with careful thought, you will find ample opportunities.
recent interviewee told of the time when he literally saved someone from
drowning in a lake, while cutting his feet on sharp objects trying to get to the
drowning victim. This story came after a question about reaching goals in his
life. Not sure how he got there? His bridge (after telling about his career goal
of working for our company) was to say that he was very strong at keeping
focused on the goal and not letting side issues deter him from achieving the
objective. And he then went on to tell the story of how he saved the drowning
victim, in spite of injuring himself in the process. He only realized he had cut
his feet after he had carried the girl out of the lake. Thus, his focus is
confirmed and the story is now ingrained in me, probably for posterity.
interviewee told of the time that she was given a surprise party by a customer
of the company she worked for. They were all so appreciative of the hard work
that she put in that they gave her a going away party when she went back to
school. This story was given in response to a question about how responsive she
was of the needs of others.
interviewee told of the time that he hit the game-winning RBI in the final game
of a softball tournament. He told the story in response to a question about
teamwork and did it in a way to show that all the members of the team had
contributed to the final outcome, even though he was the one that was carried
off the field by his teammates. He used it was an example to show how he valued
the bonding of the team and how each member was able to perform at a much higher
level than would have been possible individually.
finally, another interviewee told the story of sinking the eight-foot putt for
victory on the first hole of sudden-death playoff in a golf tournament. He was
asked a question about his ability to handle pressure and he used the story to
show that he actually thrived on pressure and performed at his peak while under
Hero stories play well in the minds of interviewers. We all love to hear a good story and hero stories are often some of the best. Think about the times in your life when you were the hero. And begin to weave your hero story (or stories) into your interviewing answer repertoire.
is a very simple key to successful interviewing which I learned from a couple
who successfully traveled around the world on a sailboat. While not requiring a
great deal of money for their journey (most of their needs were supplied by the
wind and the sea), they did occasionally have need for provisions. So when they
made a stopover in the port of a distant land, they would often seek short-term
work, usually just enough to replenish their supplies. To compound the
difficulty of this task, they were always foreigners in a foreign land, seeking
limited-term work, and asking at or above the local prevailing wage. Yet they
were always successful.
secret? Confidence. Simple confidence. Confidence in who they were. Confidence
in what they could do. "I can do this job and do it well." They did
not go begging for work. They would walk into a company with confidence that
they would be able to make an immediate contribution. Confidence that they would
be profitable employees. And their confidence came through loud and clear. They
found work in every port, near and far.
company, whether in the U.S. or abroad, seeks confidence when considering hiring
new employees. If you lack it, you will be refused. If you show confidence, it
will cover for a multitude of shortcomings in other areas. Lack work experience?
Confidence will overcome. Confidence is the great counterbalancing factor for
entry level college grads.
I am interviewing college students for entry level opportunities at my company,
one of the first things I look for is confidence. The confidence factor is one
of the most quickly recognized skills in the brief on-campus interview and one
of the most highly reliable predictors of future performance.
So how do you gain this confidence? Through preparation. Knowing who you are and what you can do. And practicing. Over and over. Until you are not only confident in yourself, but also able to project that confidence to others. I must also be confident in your ability to do the work. Then, and only then, will I be willing to invest in you. Back to the List
even the thought of interviewing makes you nervous, it's important to get that
emotion under control. The interview is your opportunity to be at your best. If
you allow nervousness to control your presentation (or lack thereof), your image
may be forever shrouded in the cloud of nervousness that blocked the
interviewer's total view of who you are.
do we get nervous? Because of the unknown. We are seeking approval, but we are
unsure of ourselves and how we will be perceived. We are afraid we won't get
approval, which makes us nervous. And to compound the problem, our increasing
nervousness makes it even more difficult to gain that approval, thereby
compounding the basis for our fears. Uncontrolled, nervousness can destroy our
ability to effectively interview.
But it doesn't have to be that way. The next page has a simple technique that you can apply to overcome your nervousness in any interviewing situation. It is a technique that I personally use in overcoming my own nervousness, and it will work equally well for you.
my public speaking, I am often confronted by crowds of hundreds and sometimes
even thousands. Do I get nervous? You bet. Every time. Is anyone aware of my
nervousness? Not unless they see me in the few minutes before I go on stage,
before I have successfully applied the Rowboat Technique. This simple technique
allows me to overcome my fears and successfully speak before thousands of people
I have never met before. And it will help you in meeting with and speaking to
people you have never met before in the interviewing situation.
Rowboat Technique is a simple contraction of the abdomen in combination with
rhythmic breathing that will allow you to fully overcome your nervousness in any
situation. To understand how to use this technique, sit forward in a chair, arms
outstretched, as if you are grabbing oars in a rowboat. Take a deep breath, then
slowly pull back your arms and contract the abdominal muscle just below the rib
cage. As you continue to let out air, roll the contraction of the muscle
downward, just above your pelvic region, centering on your navel. Keep you
muscles tight until all of the air has been expelled. Count to three (don't
breathe in yet!), then inhale deeply. Repeat this simple process two or three
times and you will find that your body is completely relaxed.
better understand the Rowboat Technique, stop by the gym and sit down at one of
the rowing machines. You will gain a firsthand feel for the relaxation brought
on by the series of muscle contractions and deep breathing that comes naturally
during this type of workout.
how can this apply with interviewing? Obviously, you don't want to go through
all the visual animations in front of the interviewer, but you can still
effectively apply this technique. Simply take in a deep breath through your
nose, then contract your abdominal muscles in the "top to bottom roll"
discussed above as you slowly exhale through slightly parted lips. Hold it at
the bottom, take in a deep breath, and you are ready to go. If you are still
nervous, simply repeat the technique one or two more times. Even if you are not
nervous at the time, it is always a good idea to use this technique as you are
waiting to meet with your interviewer. During the interview, you can use it
while the interviewer is speaking to keep any potential nervousness in check.
if you are overcome by nervousness while answering a question? Simply pause,
take a deep breath, exhale and contract, then continue. Your nervousness will be
noticeable to the interviewer (due to the pause in your answer), but the
five-second drill will also show that you are seeking to control your
nervousness. If you are able to successfully overcome, I will never hold that
pause against you. I will admire your self-control and the positive, proactive
action you took to put the interview back on a successful track.
technique is virtually unnoticeable to anyone nearby. I make it a habit to apply
this technique several times before going on stage, whether I am feeling nervous
or not. You could be seated next to me and be completely unaware of what I am
doing. Yet I will effectively put away all my nervousness and prepare myself for
a dynamic presentation. You can do the same in preparation for your interview.
does it work? Very simply, the muscle contractions prevent the introduction of
chemical imbalances into your system that can cause nervousness. The deep
breathing helps to dissipate any chemicals that have already been released. It
forces the body to prepare physically for the upcoming task. The body begins to
focus on producing positive endorphins that will be needed for the anticipated
"rowing" ahead. And this exercise will give your mind the opportunity
to focus positively on the actual task of interviewing.
You can use this technique in a variety of circumstances in which you need to focus your mind and body: overcoming anxiety, anger, fright, tension, nausea--even a simple case of stomach butterflies. You can overcome interviewing nervousness, and much more, just by using this simple technique. If you haven't already done so, give it a try right now!
fear of the unknown is often what produces the physical symptoms of nervousness.
In addition to preparing yourself physically, you also need to prepare yourself
mentally. The best way to prepare mentally is to know what may be coming. Fear
of the unknown can only exist when there is an unknown. Take the time to
understand some of the "standards" when it comes to interviewing
following are some of the most difficult questions you will face in the course
of your job interviews. Some questions may seem rather simple on the
surface--such as "Tell me about yourself"--but these questions can
have a variety of answers. The more open-ended the question, the wider the
variation in the answers. Once you have become practiced in your interviewing
skills, you will find that you can use almost any question as a launching pad
for a particular topic or compelling story.
are "classic" interview questions, such as, "What is your
greatest weakness?" Questions which most people answer inappropriately. In
this case, the standard textbook answer for the "greatest weakness"
question is to give a veiled positive--"I work too much. I just work and
work and work"--which ends up sending the wrong message. Either you are
lying or, worse yet, you are telling the truth, in which case you define working
too much as a weakness and really don't want to work much at all. Think about
following answers are provided to give you a new perspective on how to answer
tough interview questions. They are not there for you to lift from the page and
insert into your next interview. They are there for you to use as the basic
structure for formulating your own answers. While the specifics of each reply
may not apply to you, try to follow the basic structure of the answer from the
perspective of the interviewer. Answer the questions behaviorally, with specific
examples that show clear evidence backs up what you are saying about yourself.
Always provide information that shows you want to become the very best _____ for
the company and that you have specifically prepared yourself to become exactly
that. They want to be sold. They are waiting to be sold. Don't disappoint them!
Tell me about yourself.
In reviewing the above responses, please remember that these are sample answers. Please do not rehearse them verbatim or adopt them as your own. They are meant to stir your creative juices and get you thinking about how to properly answer the broader range of questions that you will face.
is not enough to have solid answers only for the above questions. You need to be
prepared for the full spectrum of questions that may be presented. For further
practice, make sure you go through the required mock interview (see the
"Competitive Interview Prep" Section) and for further review, look at
some of the following questions:
Don't just read these questions--practice and rehearse the answers. Don't let the company interview be the first time you have actually formulated an answer in spoken words. It is not enough to think about them in your head--practice! Sit down with a friend, a significant other, or your roommate (an especially effective critic, given the amount of preparation to date) and go through all of the questions. Make the most of every single interview opportunity by being fully prepared!
all the different questions being referenced, you may wonder what exactly the
employer is looking for. And I will tell you. Following is the list of the top
ten critical success factors that nearly every employer is seeking:
Positive attitude toward work
2. Proficiency in field of study
3. Communication skills (oral and written)
4. Interpersonal skills
6. Critical thinking and problem solving skills
Show your competence in as many of the above critical success factors as possible and you will rise above the competition.
it is. The one question that nearly every college student fails to answer
properly (and will continue to send students to their interview ruin) is:
did you choose to attend this college?"
have spent the last several years knocking the college--the professors, the
administration, the dorms, the food in the dining halls, whatever--and now you
suddenly need to come to its defense. And if you have not thought of an answer
before the interview, you definitely will not come up with a valid one on the
think about it in advance. What is the real reason you are attending your
college? Is it because of the academic program? Is it because of extracurricular
programs? Athletics? Close to home? Party school? Great dating opportunities?
Everyone else turned you down?
you acknowledge your true reason for attending, you will need to temper your
response with some directed reasoning--tie in what it is about your college that
makes it worthwhile from the perspective of the employer. Your response should
emphasize what it is about the school that makes it an attractive training
ground for this employer. You need to talk about your college as the ideal
training facility for becoming a _____ with that company.
might find it best to give a "process answer" such as:
originally decided to attend State U. because of its strong general academic
reputation and its close proximity to my home, which gave me the opportunity to
continue working at my part-time job. During the years I have spent here, I have
come to truly appreciate the depth and breadth of the _____ curriculum. It has
given me an excellent foundation for becoming an immediate contributor in the
Lay on the superlatives, but don't get mushy. You will come to appreciate your time at college later in life, but for now, a few well-chosen words about why it is #1 for you in your career will suffice.
interview is going along smoothly. You are psyched that "this may be the
one." And then it happens. Out of nowhere. "Are you considering having
children?" Or, "How long has your family been in this country?"
Or, "Your people place a high value on that, don't they?" Or,
"You've done amazingly well for someone in a wheelchair. How long have you
had to use one?"
the surface the question may seem innocent enough. And most of the time, they
are truly asked in innocence. Yet the structure and format of the question is
entirely illegal. So what do you do? How do you respond?
of all, it is important to understand the difference between an illegal question
and a criminally liable question. Even though a question or comment may have
been stated in an illegal form, it does not necessarily mean that a crime has
been committed. There is a difference between criminal liability and civil
liability. For there to be criminal liability, it requires establishing a motive
or intent. Most illegal questions are asked in ignorance, not with malicious
intent. Yet there can still be civil recourse, even when there was no criminal
motive or intent.
our politically correct society, we often cry "foul" at the slightest
deviation from the accepted standard. But the reality is that most illegal
interview questions are asked in true innocence. Or, better stated, in true
ignorance. Ignorance of the law, ignorance of what questions are proper,
ignorance of how the information could be used by others in a discriminatory
most illegal questions are asked when the untrained interviewer is trying to be
more friendly and asks a seemingly innocent question about your personal life or
family background. Therefore, any attempt by the candidate to assert their
constitutional rights will merely throw up the defense shields and will put an
end to mutual consideration. Warning lights go on, sirens sound, and the
interviewer begins backing down from what may have been an otherwise very
what is the proper response? The answer is up to you, but my recommendation is
to follow one of two courses of action: answer in brief and move on to a new
topic area, or ignore the question altogether and redirect the discussion to a
new topic area. The interviewer may even recognize the personal misstep and
appreciate your willingness to put it aside and go on.
the question is blatantly discriminatory--and yes, blatant discrimination does
still take place--your best option is to move on to other things. But if it is
blatant and offensive, you have every right to terminate the interview and walk
laws vary from state to state, there are some definite taboo areas with regard
to interview questions which employers should avoid. Following is a brief list
of some of the questions that employers should not be asking:
Questions related to birthplace, nationality, ancestry, or descent of
applicant, applicant's spouse, or parents
"Pasquale--is that a Spanish name?")
"Is that your maiden name?")
"Are you considered to be part of a minority group?")
"Does your religion prevent you from working weekends or holidays?")
"Do you have any use of your legs at all?")
"Do you have any pre-existing health conditions?")
"Are you planning on having children?")
should be noted that just because an illegal question has been asked does not
necessarily mean a crime has been committed. It is up to a court of law to
determine whether the information was used in a discriminatory manner.
Commit One Of The Worst Interview Sins
of the worst "sins" an interviewee can commit is to speak in
generalities rather than specifics. It is not enough to say, "I'm a very
goal-oriented person." You have to back it up with specifics. For example:
"I'm a very goal oriented person. In fact, I regularly update a list of
personal and business goals with specific time frames. Since I started keeping
this goal list three years ago, I've successfully reached or surpassed over 95%
of these goals. I'm confident that the other 5% are also within reach in the
you are prone to using generalities, a sharp interviewer will usually follow
with the behavioral question "Can you give me a specific example?" So
beware! In fact, a favorite dual interview question of mine is: "Do you
consider yourself to be goal-oriented?" (which to date has been answered
100% of the time with "Yes"), followed by: "Can you give me a
specific example?" It's amazing how many people could not answer the second
question or (worse yet) attempted to snow their way past it. The best answers
came from those who didn't even need the prompting of my second question, but
gave specifics in response to my initial question. That is what a good
interviewer will be looking for.
An important aspect of being specific is to use the quantitative approach. Don't just say, "I increased productivity." Instead use, "I increased staff meeting productivity 25% in one year within our department by implementing a video teleconferencing system for participants at our other location on campus, thereby reducing unnecessary travel time. And as a by-product of this focus on the needs of our employees, meeting attendance is up over 10%. In fact, the teleconferencing system was showcased in the August newsletter. Let me show you a copy."
a question is unclear to you, it is entirely appropriate to ask a clarifying
question or paraphrase the question to make sure you understand. "Parrot
back" the question in your own words to make sure you have the correct
meaning. Don't assume or make a "best guess" of what the interviewer
is looking for. They are the only ones who truly know what they want, so a
well-placed "Just so that I understand, what you are asking is . . . "
question will serve you far better than treading down an unknown path.
Parroting Technique will also serve you well as a temporary stall when you do
not have a ready answer.
do you do when you have been asked a question that you know you have a good
answer to, but cannot think of it immediately? Don't get caught using the
typical "I know the answer to that and I will give it to you as soon as I
can remember what it is" line that is most often blurted out (either
figuratively or, I'm sorry to say, literally by some). Instead, use the Safety
Valve Technique. Basically, this technique allows some of the "steam to
escape" while you formulate your answer. If handled well, it will appear
almost seamless to even the most experienced interviewer.
is how it works. The interviewer has just asked you a question for which you
know you have a good answer, but you just cannot think of it at that moment.
First of all, repeat back the question with the Parroting Technique. This will
buy you a few precious seconds before going on to the next level. If you still
cannot put together the answer, you have two "safety valves" left.
First, comment on the importance of the question and its context--"I
understand the importance of this in regard to . . . " If you still haven't
formulated your answer, turn the question back to the interviewer for
comment--"Can you tell me how _____ (subject area) specifically plays a
role within your company?"
This technique takes some practice to avoid the "snow job" look, but if you practice it enough (try attending some MENSA meetings to watch the professionals perform), you will find yourself quite ready and able to squeeze precious seconds out of even the most seasoned interviewers.
word "control" is often used with regard to interviewing. Often it is
used incorrectly, by giving the interviewee the impression they should attempt
to take full "control" over the questioning in the actual interview.
This is, quite simply, a terrible mistake. If you attempt to take one-sided
control of the interviewer and the interview, you may win the initial battle,
but will certainly lose the war. I will let you take control, but I will press
the "reject" button as soon as you leave my office.
right use of "control" in the interview is your ability to control
both the context and perspective of your answers. You can do this effectively by
utilizing the Reframing Technique. To do this, you should always attempt to
answer the questions as straightforwardly as possible initially, but then
reframe the original question to illustrate an area of your background that can
further enhance your overall image. This requires a thorough understanding of
your strong points so you have a planned direction and course. By properly using
the Reframing Technique, you will find yourself covering the same core topics
(which reflect your greatest strengths) in nearly every interview, regardless of
the questions used as the launching point.
example, if you are asked who your favorite professor is, you might give a short
answer about a particular professor, then reframe the question by telling why
that professor is your favorite. "She has the ability to tie in all of the
classroom theory with practical business applications; in fact, it was her
inspiration that encouraged me to participate in a two-week internship over
Winter Break, where I combined my classroom knowledge with practical experience
in the field of _____."
Reframing can take many forms, but at its best there is always a solid connection between the original question and the reframed emphasis. If the reformatting of the original question goes into a totally unrelated topic area, it will be counted against you. The key is to stay within the same general frame and use the question as a launch pad in a new, yet related direction (the reframed question). When done smoothly, the interviewer will not even be aware of the slight shift in focus. And you will have the opportunity to put forth your strongest points. Know your strong points and all the bridges you can use to reach them so that you can use reframing to your advantage in the interview.
of the most difficult questions at the entry level can be the
"experience" question. If you have applicable work experience in your
chosen occupation, great! Make the most of it and capitalize on this area to
differentiate yourself from your competition.
what if you don't? What if your experience consists primarily of flipping
burgers at McDonald's? Don't answer apologetically, as most do, that you really
don't have any real experience to speak of. Instead, use the Experience Of A
Lifetime Technique to solidify your background and confirm your ability to do
you for asking me about my experience. I understand the need to review my past
experience to determine whether or not I'm able to accomplish the tasks
necessary for this job. I have, in fact, had a lifetime of experience that is
directly related to this job. For example, I've learned . . . "
go on to relate life experiences and what those have taught you or how they have
prepared you for this job. These responses can include the generic, which would
apply to any position ("I've learned the ethics of hard work and seeing a
job through to completion, whatever the cost, during my summers working for my
uncle on his farm. One summer, my uncle broke his leg, and the entire family
counted on me to . . . ") to the specific ("I've learned through my
classes how to utilize object-oriented development tools to efficiently develop
modular systems that can be used across a series of platforms. In fact, in the
capstone project in my final year . . . ").
close by detailing your personal attributes: "I've learned that for a
company to succeed, it needs people who are ready and willing to put forth their
very best effort. People who aren't afraid to work hard. People who are
dependable. That is the experience that I bring to you and your company."
Modify the above to suit your own needs, but please don't regress to the "I really don't have any experience" line. The interview is as good as over the minute you say it.
ability to articulate your background is a combination of good preparation
(which you have full control over) and vocabulary/enunciation (which you have
little control over). Your "smartness," "sharpness,"
"quickness," "aggressiveness," and "brightness"
are all attributes that are evaluated based upon your articulation. If you have
"lazy lips" you may want to practice enunciating and forming your
words more clearly. And whatever
do, don't continually reach for elusive words to perfectly portray your thoughts
and feelings. Any practiced interviewer prefers an individual who is comfortable
within their vocabulary level than one who is always searching at the level
practicing your articulation, take careful note of the "quickie" words
which we tend to develop in our everyday speech pattern. Words like "gonna"
and "yeah" and "y'know" and "kinda" are all
killers. They can make you sound uneducated and coarse. And they have a habit of
repeating. We have all probably had a parent (or sibling) point out the use of
"y'know" in our speaking. In addition, you may have particular words
or phrases which you use for emphasis which can become particularly pronounced
in the interview. These would include "to tell you the truth" and
"truthfully" and "basically" and "OK, well" and
"Like, . . ." As a side note, I once counted the number of times a
candidate said, "to tell you the truth" after it became particularly
repetitive. She said it over fifteen times. And I began to question her
Make sure you are fully prepared for the interview, on your own background (nothing will kill an interview quicker than someone who cannot recall personal events) and background on our company. Proper research will help you formulate your answers in a clear and succinct manner.
all love the dog, except when he needs a bath. Same with interviewing. I have
conducted countless interviews where things seemed to be going just fine, when
suddenly the interviewee began a series of complaints about others. And suddenly
the spotless interviewee has become hopelessly stained.
Is there anything worse than a complainer? Nope, nothing worse. We all know one, and we all want to distance ourselves from that person. Company or otherwise. So remember that the interview is not your forum for griping. If you gripe about your current or past employers or professors or make note of any shortcomings in your life of missed expectations (even though they may be few!), you have just relegated yourself to the position of "complainer." And complainers are all too common already within most companies. Why would any company hire new complainers? They won't. Be positive about everything. Case closed.
goes without saying that talking down the competition is a no-no. But talking
about the competition can be quite different--if handled appropriately.
Abraham Lincoln was arguing a case in court, he would usually argue both sides
of the case to the jury. He would first take the opponent's side of the issue
and then his client's side. But note: he was always very precise in bringing out
more favorable facts for his client than for his opponent. Both sides were
covered on a positive note, although his client's side was always more
IBM, we followed this same principle. We were not allowed to talk down our
competition. We could acknowledge them and their products, yet we never put them
down. We were required to sell IBM on the strength of IBM, not on the weakness
of others. Our customers appreciated our willingness to accept the competition
and seek to rise above on our own merits rather than try to push the competition
down to a lower level. So if you are confronted with a comparison to your
competition, be prepared to fully acknowledge the strength of your competition,
then follow with what you feel are your own greater assets.
example in applying this technique is how to handle the potential negative when
the interviewer asks why you are lacking in a particular area (be it grades,
work experience, extracurriculars, etc.). You need to first speak well of the
others. Then you need to establish your own case, which can also include using
the Reframing Technique. An example would be in response to a question about a
sure that there are many who have put more time and energy into their GPA than I
did--and I congratulate them on their efforts. Grades are important, but my
overall focus has been to develop myself as the very best accountant I can
become. For me, this has involved not only time in the classroom, but also time
in applying these skills in real world situations. Because of that focus, I have
spent 15 to 20 hours per week working as a bookkeeper during my final two years.
While I was not able to devote myself full-time to pure academics, I feel the
combination of academic and work experience has more fully prepared me for the
accounting field than full-time academics alone."
Honest Abe would be proud of you.
sure how you are doing in the interview? Want to greatly increase your odds? You
can do both with the Pride of Ownership Technique. To use this simple technique
during the course of the interview, simply start giving your replies and asking
your questions in terms of ownership--as if you are already part of the company.
One way is to formulate the last part of your response to a "Teamwork"
question with, "What kind of departmental structure will I be working in
with your company?" Note the important difference. You are not asking,
"What kind of departmental structure does your company have?" This is
detached. You need to attach yourself--take pride of ownership--in the company.
Why? Two reasons. First and foremost, it will establish the link between you and the company. This is critical in helping the interviewer visualize you actually working for the company--the offer will never come if they cannot get past this step. Second, it provides you with instant feedback as to how you are doing within the interview. If the interviewer balks at your question or reshapes it by unlinking--especially by adding the "if" word in restating your question--you have a pretty good indication that you have not fully sold them on you. But if they accept your language and begin talking about you as if you are a part of the company, you are probably in a good position to close the sale.
important to maintain a competitive posture in the interview. The employer
should be aware that they are not your only suitor. There is a delicate balance
between letting the employer know that you really want to work for them and that
if they don't make an offer, you will go with another company. The best way I
can illustrate it is with the dating game. Sure, you love him/her and only
him/her, but if things don't work out, there are plenty of other hims/hers
banging on your door asking for a date. Right? Well, maybe it doesn't equate
directly to your personal life, but you get the drift.
posturing is very simple to incorporate into your interview language. Frame it
in the form of a simple 1-2-3 engage/disengage/re-engage statement. Example:
After what I've heard from everyone here at the company, I'm more
convinced than ever that I would be an excellent contributor to your team. Just
say the word and I'm ready to come to work for you.
If you feel comfortable with closing the sale, you can add the "Are you ready to make an offer?" question to the last statement above. The point is that you have put a limited time offer on your enthusiasm--if they want you, all of you, they better move quickly and decisively.
One Question To Ask Every Interviewer
opportunity for you to ask a question often comes only at the end of the
interview. In fact, you are typically offered the chance when the interview is
over: "Are there any questions that I can answer for you?" However,
there is a question you should ask of every interviewer as early as possible
during the course of the interview: "Can you tell me about the position and
the type of person you are seeking?"
positioned, this question can provide you with your single greatest opportunity
for understanding more about the job and your ability to fill the role. The
answer can show you the specific areas of need which you should address during
the course of the interview. So it is important to inject this question into the
interview as early as possible. You can do this with an out-take question. As
you finish an answer, use it as a lead to your question. Be careful not to use
this technique as an attempt to control the interview. You merely need to use
this technique to inject this critical question.
example, in answering a "What do you know about our company?"
question, you can answer directly with what you know about the company (you have
done your research, right?), then state that you do not know as much about the
specific position. Turn your answer into the out-take question: "Can you
tell me more about the position and the type of person you are seeking?"
Find the strategic opportunity to inject this question as early as possible in the process. Then, as appropriate, frame your answers around what they are seeking in the person to fill the position. Stay within practical and ethical bounds in directing your answers, yet keep in mind the perspective of the interviewer and seek to meet their needs for the position. You will be further ahead in the interview than if you merely take shots in the dark, hoping for your answers to magically hit the mark.
are additional questions you may want to consider asking at an appropriate point
in the interview:
did you personally decide to work for this company?"
are the three most important attributes for success in this position?"
are the opportunities for growth and advancement for this position?"
is your company responding to competition in the _____ area?"
is the anticipated company growth rate over the next three years"
Limit yourself to no more than one or two questions during an on-campus interview and no more than two or three questions during each company-site interview. Even if you are not able to get answers to all of your open questions before the offer is made, you will have one final opportunity at that point.
the "money question" is asked early in the interview (as it often is),
the best response is: "What would a person with my background and
qualifications typically earn in this position with your company?" The best
response if asked late in the interview process is: "I am ready to consider
your very best offer." This is one time you don't want to be specific. If
you give specifics, you lose--you will either be too low or too high, costing
yourself thousands of dollars or possibly even keeping yourself from getting the
said, if you are pressed by the interviewer for specific numbers, don't put them
off with more than one "end run" response. First, make sure you have
done your homework on the expected salary range for your field. The salary
surveys usually are skewed toward the high end (possibly because only the best
paid graduates responded, while those with average or low pay did not want to
admit what they were earning), so take them with a large dose of conservative
adjustment. The best surveys are from those who graduated within the last year
in your major from your school. You can possibly locate such information through
your Career Center, Alumni Office, or your personal network of contacts. A
business grad from Stanford is going to be earning a lot more than a business
grad from Podunk U. Know the "going rate" for your major, your school,
and the field that you are considering entering. And make sure you know it
before you get propositioned with the money question.
Armed with this information, ask the interviewer: "What is the general salary range for new hires in this position?" If the entire range is acceptable, respond with: "That would be within my expected starting range, depending on the entire salary and benefits package." If only the top end of the range is acceptable, respond with: "The upper end of the range is what I have been discussing with the other companies that are currently interested." If the range is below your expected starting salary range (be careful!), respond with: "The other companies I am currently speaking with are considering me at a salary somewhat higher than that range. Of course, money is only one element and I will be evaluating the overall package." Do your best not to get pinned to specific numbers, but if they do mention a number and ask if it would be acceptable to you, respond by saying: "I would encourage you to make the formal offer. What is most important is the opportunity to work for you and your company. I am confident that your offer will be competitive." Remember, don't do any negotiating until you have a formal offer in hand. When that finally happens, go straight to the "Successful Job Offer Negotiation" Section for guidance on shaping it into the best offer.
you are truly interested in the job, one thing you should do at the end of the
interview is recap: (1) why you feel you are the best candidate for the job
(give two or three of your strongest attributes and/or qualifications), and (2)
restate your interest in the position by asking for the job. Don't expect the
employer to make the first move. Let them know of your interest and desire to
work for them.
is interesting to note that fewer than 1% of all college students actually ask
for the job. It's almost as if they assume it to be a given. But it's not. So
those who take this extra step will put themselves far beyond the rest of the
competition. If I know that you want the job--that you really want the job--it
makes my job as the interviewer that much easier and will greatly increase the
odds of an offer either on the spot (it does happen) or in the very near future.
Remember that you cannot close the entire sale except with the person who can actually make the entire purchase. So if you are interviewing with Human Resources, close by asking to move forward to the next step in the process, which will likely require meeting with the hiring manager. When you interview with the hiring manager, you are ready to close on generating an offer.