Over the past few days, I’ve conducted three phone interviews. All MBAs, good schools, good backgrounds. The more interviews I conduct, the more I realize how I can improve my own interviewing skills.
I want to share these tips with my interviewees. In fact, I was delighted to find out today that someone I interviewed reads my blog. What a compliment!
1. Be polite. It’s not that hard to say ‘thank you.’ A simple email is fine. No need to get fancy. I didn’t think it was a big deal until I extended an interview to someone and he said, “Sure. Here’s the number you can call me at.” Are you joking me? Rewind. He should have said, “Thank you! I’m honored to have an opportunity to speak to you and discuss how I can make a contribution to your bottom line.”
2. Make this easy for me. Honestly, I’m doing you a favor by interviewing you. I’m not interviewing every Joe Schmoball out there. Our candidates are hand-selected. One of my candidates sent me a follow-up email confirming the time and the number she could be reached at. That’s initiative. I liked that I didn’t have to be the one following up. It was one less step for me.
3. Do you really want this job? Are you sure? Well friggin tell me! Tell me why you’re amazing, tell me why I should pick you, tell me why this job is exactly what you were born to do. Sure, I want to hire the most brilliant, talented person out there. But more importantly, I’m going to hire the person who tells me they want to work for my company, the person who says they’ve researched what it’s all about, and why they think they’re a good fit. I want passion! If the interview isn’t going well, steer it to another better direction. If it’s almost over and you don’t think you’ve conveyed your key points, take a moment and get it off your chest. “You know, I don’t think I’ve made it clear why your company / this job is important to me. If you don’t mind, I’d like to tell you a few things.” I would get up off my seat and yell ‘Bravo!’ Don’t let the interviewer decide your fate. Take control.
4. I’m a sucker for honesty! I love good ol’ fashioned, honest-to-goodness truthfulness. When I interviewed one of our undergrads, I quipped, “Why would you come to California if your whole family is in Arizona? Sounds to me like you’re really family-oriented and close to them.”
He smiled and shrugged, “Yeah. I love my family. I’d love to stay in Arizona and be with them, but there are other opportunities for me. I think this is a good one. I like California and, well, I’m glad the flight back home isn’t long at all.” That was so honest, I wanted to hug the guy. Turns out, another co-worker had asked the same question. She had gotten the same response and been similarly touched by it. During decision time, the two of us were emphatic about extending him an offer.
5. Entertain me. Don’t spend thirty minutes walking through your resume without coming up for air. Stop, breathe. Ask me questions. Ask yourself, ‘Am I entertaining the interviewer? Does she look bored? Would she rather be listening to her iPod?’ This is supposed to be fun. I’m actually rooting for you. I don’t want you to stumble on my questions. I want you to do well.
6. That said, be prepared. I ask standard questions. How does your background relate to this position? Why do you think you would be a good fit? Why should I pick you over the other candidates? What have you done that shows initiative? Then go back and look at #1. Send me a ‘thank you,’ will ya?