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Successful job interviewing techniques

Updated on August 14, 2011

Take control of your job interview

I would imagine that you are familiar with the usual job interview tips about dress, preparation, arrival times, follow-up notes, eye contact and the like, so I'll offer a tip from a bit of a different perspective-a psychological one. As someone who’s been on both sides of the hiring process, I’m going to tell you how to take control of your job interview. If you follow these instructions, chances are your interviewer will fall over him or herself (let’s go with the masculine term from now on) wanting to hire you.

Here’s a truth: People, by and large, like talking about themselves, and they also like to feel important. And, in every interview there is a component of control, as in, who is directing the conversation. If you, as the applicant, wish to stand out to the interviewer you would be well served by subtly gaining control of the conversation. Direct it in such a way that the interviewing manager finds himself talking about what he thinks the organization is about and what the ideal candidate would be doing if hired. Once that's done, all you have to do is agree with him and stroke his ego now and then by not only agreeing, but indicating that you think his ideas are wonderful. You can then provide examples of how you exactly fit the requirements by following the clues you've been provided.

How do you do that without being obvious and seeming like you are controlling the interview? Start off by answering questions, but increasingly become conversational-meaning, begin to end your statements with a question of your own. For instance, if you're being interviewed for a non-profit position, and you've been asked about your fundraising ability, you would answer the question, and then follow-up with a question about what strategies they've already tried. With any luck, the manager will get excited and tell you what hasn't worked, what has, and what his vision is. You then let him know you think his vision is sublime and give an example of how you've either done that before or how it fits with your personal style. He will feel affirmed, and begin to think you are an amazing fit for the organization. If you do it right, he will still feel in control (because he’s done a lot of talking) of the interview but will remember it after as it having been "free-flowing and natural".

Hiring managers want to feel comfortable with and confident about whom they hire. They want to know that the person they hire gets their vision and won’t be a problem. What better way to present yourself as that great person than by finding out what his vision is and positioning yourself accordingly. Subtly stroking his ego along the way will leave him feeling very happy about bringing you on board. There’s a lot to be gained by being animated and saying, “That’s a great idea!”

One last tip to polish off that strategy: If you can find something that the two of you have in common outside of work, all the better. Not only do you have the same vision, but you both enjoy cross country skiing! Wow! You are awesome and must be hired!


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