Tag Archives: job interview tips

When you’re replacing the interviewer

Jill had to interview with the person she was going to replace. That person was being fired. It was an uncomfortable situation. Let’s make it worse. That person thought he was irreplaceable. No one could possibly know accounting like he did. No one would work as hard. Jill couldn’t possibly win.

Jill didn’t pass the interview. She won anyway.

It was a chance to spy, do business intelligence and find out about the other leaders. A month later the managers who allowed this curmudgeon to reject her came back to Jill. They came on bended knees. It was a terrible mistake they admitted. But that terrible interview gave her insight to ask difficult questions of those managers. Jill quickly found out that she didn’t want to work for them. We found her a different job that was a much better fit.

If you are thrown into the lion’s den, take advantage of it. You can turn the interview around and find out about the company, the leadership and the rest of the team. You may be able to find out where the company is really going. Find out who the biggest competitors are. One of those competitors may want to hire you. The possibilities are only limited by the questions you ask. 

Take a hostile interview and turn it into a learning opportunity. You don’t have to let anyone beat you down. 

Later, if you are in a friendly interview, the same questions can show your interest in the company, job, and industry.

Something to do today

In your journal write down questions you can ask in an interview. What would help you in your job search? Showing interest in the company, competitors and industry will actually make you look better in the interview.

How to engage the hiring manager in a conversation

How to engage the hiring manager in a conversation

The heroes in Men In Black have to stop a giant cockroach from leaving the earth. If it leaves, the earth will be destroyed. They are able to engage it in a conversation, sort of. They find out what is interesting enough to get the cockroach to come down and interact with (try to kill) them. 

Hiring managers are like giant cockroaches. They just want to hide in their offices and get away from you.” If you can engage the manager or their assistant in a conversation you will multiply your chances of getting an interview or a job. Here is how you do it:

First, make sure you want the job and that you are a decent fit. The Men In Black were the guys in charge of saving the earth. They were motivated and had the tools, they just had to figure out how to do it. If you are qualified to become a computer technician, audit manager or director of international sales, engage the hiring manager in a conversation. If you are not qualified for the job, just send him a resume through Indeed or ZipRecruiter. That way it only takes you 10 seconds to send it and the computer will automatically delete it for them. Conversation only works if you really want the job and really are qualified.

Now, write down the titles the hiring manager may have. Then call up the company and ask for that person. You may get through to him or you may get routed to someone else. If you get routed to someone else ask, “Are you helping (title) find the person for (job name)?” Push your way through until you get to someone who actually is helping him find a new employee. It doesn’t matter if it is them, the HR department or a receptionist. It has to be someone directly involved with the hiring process for that particular job.

When you get to the right person, say, “You are looking for a (job name). What has been the hardest thing for you to find in the right person?” Then wait. Engage them in a discussion of what they are having a hard time finding in a new hire. Make sure and ask, “Is there anything else you have a hard time finding?” Ask that last question again and again. Probe their answers. Find out what the problem is that they have to solve. 

Another good question is, “For the (job name), what is causing you to throw away most of the resumes that you get?” Then probe that too. Add, “Is there anything else?” Listen. Ask more questions. Find out what can disqualify you.

Be helpful. If you find out you are the wrong person, offer to tell someone else who is qualified about the job. If you are the right person say, “I really fit that job, what is your email address so that I can send you my resume directly?” You have a 50-50 chance of getting their direct email address, and that will get your resume right on top of the pile. If you really are qualified, that is a great place to be. And you get there by engaging them in a conversation. 

Don’t forget to specifically change your resume and cover letter to match their needs. Then call up an hour later and ask, “Did you get my resume? What more do you need to know?” You may just end up having a phone interview right then and there.

That is how you get a hiring manager to talk to you.

Something to do today

Make a list of a few jobs that you really want and are qualified for that you have not already interviewed for. Whether or not your resume has been sent in, call them up and try this out. Change your resume after your conversation and highlight things you didn’t know were so important. You just may get that job.

6 things job hunters overdo in an interview

Telephone call: “Bryan, do you have a minute Bryan?  Well, Bryan, I am representing a company, Bryan, that has a product, Bryan, that will change your life, Bryan.”

Someone taught the salesman that using my name would get my attention.  No one told him that using it too much would get me mad.  I am always amazed when I get a call like that.  How could someone be so clueless? Teaching this guy to use my name to get my attention is like giving a monkey a gun.  He just doesn’t understand when to use it.

 You give a monkey a gun, and it’s your responsibility what happens. (Ira Winkler)

So let me see if I can teach you 6 things to do in an interview with me, and convince you not to overdo them.  This is a list of more things you should do during an interview, but not to an extreme. This is my list of things that are occasionally badly overdone.

  1. Use my name.  You don’t know me well, so just use my name a few times. If you are nervous about it, call me Mr. Dilts instead of Bryan.
  2. Look me in the eye.  Occasionally break eye contact to look at my hands, mouth, what I just pointed to, or the person who just walked into the room.
  3. Sit up attentively and move forward on your seat a little.  I like seeing that you are interested and paying attention.  I don’t want you leaning across my desk, or looking like you are getting ready to attack.
  4. Explain what you mean. I need to understand.  But only take two minutes per question.  If I ask you what time it is, don’t tell me how to build a watch.
  5. Tell me about your accomplishments.  I need to know how you personally made a difference.  Just remember the two minute rule.  I need to ask questions.  If you spend an hour on one self serving discourse, I won’t be able to ask the questions I need to ask, and you come across as an arrogant stuffed shirt.
  6. Let me know you want the job.  Ask for the job.  Be excited.  Just don’t throw your hands in the air every 60 seconds and scream, “I love this place. I am so desperate to work for you! Can I start right now?”

Be a person with a toolbox full of tools.  Use them for what they were intended.  Each one is important in an interview.  Don’t take things too far. Don’t be a monkey with a gun.

Something to do today

Find someone with a video camera and do a fake interview on camera.  You may be surprised what you see.


Coming up

Salary toy

Working for the Fortune 50

Scrabble and muck and get ahead

When to give up and go elsewhere