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CheatSheet for InterviewEEs™

BASIC TENETS

1. People have to buy you before they buy from you.

2. People are sold more by substance and enthusiasm than by spin.

3. Know the mechanics and technology of your job, but think people.

4. Always listen carefully for what a person is not saying.

5. Be yourself! Whoever you choose to be during the interview is who you will have to be as long as you work for that company.

6. Present yourself honestly. If you can’t do something, then stress your ability to learn and cite an example. Whatever you say will have to be backed up, both by your references and by your performance when hired.

7. It’s chemistry! The decision to hire, or accept, is usually made in the first 10 minutes of the interview (or less) and the time beyond that is used to intellectualize/validate what is basically an emotional decision. (Positive can become negative; negative almost never changes to positive.)

8. When asking questions, especially closing questions, or any question to which you definitely want an answer, the single, most critical action taken after asking the question is to shut up! The minute you say anything else, the other person is off the hook and does not have to respond to the question.

9. Any relevant question can be asked during the interview if it is phrased in a polite manner.

10. If the manager is unapproachable, non-communicative, intimidating, etc., during the interview, the situation won’t improve when you are working there.

11. If you aren’t sure what information the manager is looking for or the amount of detail wanted—ask!

12. Assumptions are the basis for most miscommunication and lost opportunities.

13. The purpose of an interview is to give information about yourself and collect information about the job, manager, and company. So ask open-ended questions, i.e. not answerable with yes or no, and treat the interviewer’s questions as open ended, even if they are not phrased correctly.

14. Suspend your critical analysis during the interview—just be a sponge, soaking up all available information.

15. A manager hires because s/he has a “problem.” Find out what the problem is and then present yourself as the solution.

KEY QUESTION GUIDELINES

(Use your own wording; the meaning is what’s important.)

1. Please describe the position; what are the duties and responsibilities? (Some variation of this question should be asked of each interviewer and the answers should match fairly closely.)

2. What do you see as the top priorities in this position? Why? (Since priorities and the reasons for them are personal, this opens up discussion and gives insight to both the manager and the company.)

3. What are the objectives for this position and what are the obstacles to achieving them? What are the short and long-term goals for the person (as opposed to the position) in this position? What is the potential for personal growth in the position, department, company?

INFORMATION-GATHERING GUIDELINES

1. Before interviewing, write down all the questions you need answered in order to decide if you want the job. 90% of your questions should be generic and will apply to any interview you have. About 10% will be company/position specific. Questions should encompass everything that you need to know in order to make a decision, including intangibles such as business philosophy, management style, etc. (Much of this information will be disclosed in the normal interviewing conversations.)

Avoid salary or benefits. If the subject comes up before you have a chance to sell yourself, respond in the following (or similar) manner:

“What salary are you looking for?”

“I don’t know enough about the position to answer; please tell me more about it” OR “I would want to be compensated fairly based on the position and my skills.”

“What are you earning?”

“My current salary is $XX, but I am flexible depending on the opportunity.”

The important thing is to get off the $$$ topic quickly. Later on, if the manager is truly sold on you and you really want the position, an acceptable compensation package can usually be worked out.

ENDING THE INTERVIEW

(Depending on the situation, use one or more of the following closing questions.)

1. Ask for the job only if you are prepared to accept on the spot! This happens primarily when the chemistry is so strong and the job, manager, company, etc. so right that there are is no question about whether or not you want to work there. If that is the case, then ask for the job and tell the manager when you can start. Shut up.

2. Ask the manager if there is any other information that s/he needs. Shut up.

3. Ask the manager whether s/he feels you have the right qualifications for the position. Shut up.

4. If the manager indicates other candidates, ask how you compare with them. Shut up.

5. Ask what the next step is (if it is another interview, then arrange it). Shut up.

6. Ask any other appropriate closing question. Shut up.

AFTER THE INTERVIEW

1. The minute you leave the premises, find somewhere to sit and write down all your impressions, thoughts, and feelings about the people, products, company, and position, including the names and some identifying characteristics of each person with whom you talked.

2. Send a thank-you note within the next 24 to 48 hours. If you want to pursue the opportunity, say so. If the company is of interest, but not the position you interviewed for, say so. If you know that you have absolutely no interest, say so. An offer you have no intention of accepting is a waste of everybody’s time and can label you a “shopper” within your industry. (It is a very small world!)

3. Don’t just think about the interview, write the evaluation down. Memories are deceiving, written, it will be far more useful to you when preparing for the second, etc. interview, making comparisons, or arriving at a decision.

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