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5 Tips When Interviewing for That Next Big Job

SuperUser Account posted on November 27, 2012

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

So you are sitting in the lobby surrounded by marble and fine wood. Your palms are a little sweaty and your heart is racing. You are not sure why you are nervous, but you are. Confidence is usually your strong suit, but for some reason you are not thinking logically. You are going over all the things the hiring manager may ask and you can’t remember all the great ideas you had last night when you couldn’t sleep.

We have all been there and too familiar with this situation. No matter who you are, interviewing for a job can be stressful – but why? There are a few reasons and the stress makes sense when you analyze them. First, you would not be interviewing if it were not something you had at least a little interest in. You feel out of control in an interview. You feel like the manager holds most of the cards and it is not a good feeling. Second, you are potentially setting yourself up for serious rejection. Nobody likes rejection. Third, you could fail. No matter how good you are, you could forget all the great things you rehearsed driving to the interview. You might not execute on your plan and you are not used to being a failure. Lastly, you might be humiliated. What if you say something stupid? What if you are asked a question that you can’t answer? What if the manager calls you a big dummy and kicks you out of his office – well some of you might have those thoughts.

These thoughts are not justified. You need to change your mind set. You have to remember the hiring manager is at least a little nervous too. He/she does not really want to do this interview anymore than you. They are having some of the same thoughts and stresses that you are. They are really no more in control than you, even if they have home field advantage. You are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you.

This is an idea that the more sophisticated interviewee thinks about: You are interviewing them too. Once you understand this and really believe it, you can now calm down in the interview. When you are calm and more relaxed, you will be more successful in your interviews.

Here are some tips to use in an interview.

Tip 1: Make Small Talk

As soon as you meet the hiring manager in the lobby (after a firm hand shake and a smile) start making small talk. Ask a lot of “open ended” questions. These are questions that start with: Who, What, Why, Which, Tell Me, Describe. Don’t be annoying – let the manager ask you questions as well. These initial questions should be small talk. Where are you from? How long have you worked here? That receptionist was great and very helpful, how long has she worked here? Make sure you sound genuinely interested in the answers to your questions.

Tip 2: Make The Managers Job Easy

Be happy and upbeat. Managers hate it when asking questions is like pulling teeth. They also dislike it when a candidate is dull and has little personality. If you don’t have much of a personality, you had better find a way to turn it on if you want the job. Remember, they feel a little awkward too. Make their job easier by smiling, being upbeat, giving more than a one word answer to each question. Elaborate but don’t write a book. Being happy and upbeat is infectious. The more pleasant the manger feels around you, the more likely it is they will hire you.

Tip 3: Ask Good Questions

Don’t make the manager ask you all the questions. You should go into every interview with a list of 7-12 good questions. You should have them memorized, but also written down. Some of your questions should demonstrate to them your motivation level. After you get done answering one of their questions, ask them a question in return. Get them talking about their company. They will tell you exactly what they are looking for if you know the art of asking questions. Ask questions like: How long have you worked here? Why did you join the firm? What do you like most? What do you attribute your success to? What would you change if you could? Could you describe the perfect employee? If I were hired, what could I do to make your job easier? What are you really looking for in a hire? What do employees do that frustrate you most?

Tip 4: Get Them Talking About What They Are Interested In

As soon as you walk into the manager’s office, look at what they have on display. Individuals love to talk about subjects that are important to them. Find out what they are into and start asking questions. If they have plaques or trophies on the wall, it means they are proud of their achievements. If they have several photos of their family, they are into their family. If they have a plethora of golf pictures, they are into golf. If their office is very clean and organized they like organized individuals. Before sitting down for the interview, try walking over to photos and start asking open-ended questions. Maybe pick up a family photo and make a positive comment. Tell him/her how beautiful their family is. As the manager is answering your questions, start thinking about your next follow-up question. They will let you know when they are getting bored – if they ever do. Watch their face light up when they start talking about their golf game or family or all the awards they have won. Studies show that when individuals talks about subjects they are passionate and excited about, their bodies release endorphins in the brain. If you are in their company during this high, they will start liking you without consciously knowing why. Make sure you cut them off after 20 minutes or so, because you both really need to have your questions answered. I once got a hiring manager to talk about himself for 95% of the interview. His eyes lit up as he retold stories of his college football days. I beat out 15 others for the job and many of them were more qualified than me.

Tip 5: People Want What Is Hard To Acquire or What They Can’t Have

Human nature is to want what you can’t have. This is true for all individuals most of the time. Some are better at fighting this urge, but they still have to fight it. In an interview you can use this knowledge to your advantage. Do not seem desperate or overly interested during any interview – no matter how interested you are. Go into each interview with the attitude you are there to interview them to determine if it is a company you would want to work for. If you do have the luxury of meeting with multiple firms, make sure the hiring manager knows this important piece of information. Make the hiring manager feel you are in demand, but don’t be cocky about it. If the manager asks you if you are interviewing with other firms, your answer should always be yes. Let them know you are looking at several firms and have a few good opportunities. When the manager feels you are in demand, he/she will want you more. Once the managers stops asking questions and starts selling you on his/her position, you will know you have done a great job. This will increase your odds of a job offer.

When I help a client get a new job I always ask them about their interviews. The ones who usually get the jobs are those who established the most rapport. They usually say the manager did not ask them many detailed questions. They spent most of the interview talking about a subject the manager had an interest in. Whether you have high or low interest in the job, make sure you leave the manager wanting more.

Rick Rummage is the founder and CEO of The Rummage Group. He be reached at or (703) 435-2822.