How to make your job interview focus on getting you a job

In a job interview you have to focus your answers, and you have to focus the questions of your interviewer. In interviews it is easy to focus on the trivial. Here are a couple of quotes that apply:

A chess genius is a human being who focuses vast, little-understood mental gifts and labors on an ultimately trivial human enterprise. (George Steiner)

It’s really hard to design products by focus groups.  A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them. (Steve Jobs)

You the movie – stay focused

What was the last time you went to see a movie made from a book you had read?  They left out a lot of stuff that was in the book, didn’t they?  There just isn’t time to show all the details.  They have to focus their attention on the critical plot.

Employment interviews also need to stay focused. Don’t try to talk about your entire life and career. You need to focus on what the interviewer wants you to be able to do.  Focus on your critical plot. “Tell me about yourself,” should be answered with a short description of your last two jobs and what parts apply to this one.  It will get talk focused on your career plot line.

Often the interviewer has trouble staying focused.  He may be embarrassed to ask you about your experience because he feels like he is prying.  When you start talking about it, he may come alive and ask detailed questions.

Your questions can often pull an interview back on course.  If you are getting a lecture instead of an interview, say something like: “I like what you are saying about my skills being a fit, do you think my experience with (subject) is going to be important?” Sometimes you have to remind an interviewer to ask questions.

If you find yourself talking for more than 2 minutes in reply to a question, stop.  Ask, “Have I told you what you need to know about that question?”  It will allow the interviewer to redirect you down the precise path you need to go.

Don’t take over the interview.  An answer longer than 2 minutes is usually too long. We had one guy in here who wouldn’t let us get a word in edgewise.  He never wound down.  He never stopped pontificating about his wonderful qualities.  Unfortunately he talked about all the wrong stuff.  He came across as arrogant. After an hour he was shown the door and we still did not know what we needed to know.

Sometimes you have to focus your replies and cut your answers short.  Sometimes you have to focus your interviewer and get him to ask questions.  The better you are at getting the focus on your strengths, the more likely you will get the job.


Coming up

You, as Ed McMahon

The most powerful questions

Beating the tests

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