Two ways to fight interview red herrings

Reading off of a sheet of questions, each interviewer takes a turn asking set questions.  There are technical questions, motivation questions and team related questions.  Which are the most important ones?  Which are the red herrings?

If you interview with 5 people at a company, you will have to deal with 5 agendas.  Each will have a different set of core values and competencies they are looking for.  So how do you win?

Be yourself, but avoid dwelling on yourself.

Be yourself

Make sure your interviewers know one or two endearing things that make you different.  For instance, I have ten kids and will be going into the mountains with my Boy Scouts this month.  That will set Bryan Dilts apart from other candidates and give me a personality.  Do you have a computer network in your basement?  Were you the top salesman of Girl Scout cookies as a kid?  Are you a Steelers fan?  Mention one or two things that make you unique.  Okay, I’m not sure about mentioning politics and the NFL.

Avoid dwelling on yourself

Historians are like deaf people who go on answering questions that no one has asked them. (Leo Tolstoy)

A quick mention of your one or two endearing qualities is all that is needed.  Then it is time to mention past job performance.

When asked about what you did, mention specific projects.  You can say, “I was in charge of the budget,” or you can say, “While I was in charge of the budget we increased productivity 60% while increasing the budget only 20%.”  That will catch their attention.  As a salesperson you can say, “I sold to companies with over 2000 employees,” or you can get bonus points by saying, “In the last year I opened new accounts at 14 companies, each with over 2000 employees.”

Don’t dwell on yourself.  Dwell on the facts.  Facts that demonstrate your value to your last company and the company you are interviewing with.

Their red herrings

You really have no hope of knowing which of their questions are red herrings.  All you can do is refocus each question they ask on what you have accomplished in the past.  Given a choice, most people would rather work with someone who will get things done rather than someone who answers the questions just like they are supposed to.

Ignore their red herrings and show them you are a big fish.  They’ll want to reel you in and hire you.

Something to do today

Ask if you can help do interviews at your current company.  You may be surprised what you learn about being interviewed by watching others in the hot seat and talking with your boss about them afterwards.

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Later:              Interview red herring – yours

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