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The Basics
5. The New Interview™


The Basics
You're Wrong
$30,000 Strategy
Job Hunting Skills
Mistakes That Kill
The New Interview
Back to The Basics

Is the job interview The Moment of Truth? Nah. The Land of Bunk is more like it. Never have more stupid questions been answered with the same repetitive drivel as in the job interview. You can sit down and easily list ten questions everyone is asked in an interview. Human resources jockeys will tell you that's the point: There are certain things we just must know about everyone.

Bunk. Every job is different. Every manager is different. Every candidate is different. When you enforce rules that encourage candidates to sound and act the same, it becomes virtually impossible to separate the right candidate from all the droning wannabe's.

Imagine an alternative: Rather than drone, carefully think about the work you do and how you would do it prior to approaching that employer. That's what makes The New Interview™ work. A good headhunter will not let a candidate meet with a client unless the candidate is ready and able to control the interview by making it a hands-on, at-work meeting that focuses on the work that needs to be done. If you spend an interview doing anything else, your effort is wasted.

Control The Interview
Don't let an interview turn into a rote question and answer session about your greatest accomplishments and your biggest weaknesses. That's not what will win you a job offer. Focus on what you can do for an employer. It's up to you to take control of an interview and turn it into the solution to the employer's problems.

The Agenda Is The Work
Prepare an interviewer before your meeting. Let him know that you want to clearly demonstrate, in the interview, how you will do the work they need to have done. If all you do in an interview is talk about your history, you will leave the employer unconvinced that you can do the work he needs to have done. A headhunter will never jeopardize his fee by letting a candidate treat an interview like a tea party.

Be Ready To Do The Job
You must take responsibility for being able to solve the employer's problem in the interview. Do the job. Sound intimidating? Well, if you can't do it, why bother interviewing for this particular work? You have to be able to do it. You might as well get ready to do the work you'll have to do daily if you win the job.

Introduce Yourself
Introduce yourself to the interviewer before you meet, in a phone call or through a referral made by someone who knows you both. Leverage. Such an intermediary can be another employee, another manager (from this or another company), a vendor of the company or a customer. If you have to, spend some serious time finding someone who will do this for you. Don't go on a blind date. Companies retain headhunters because they hate blind dates with unknown job applicants.

Join The Team—Enlist!
Be tentative and you'll lose. Don't wait to be asked to participate in the manager's work. You'll never be asked. Be proactive—enlist! Be on the job when you walk into your meeting. Arrive to face the manager's challenges with him. Your goal is to perform like an employee who wants a promotion. Act like you're on the team. If you don't, you never will be.

Offer Profit to The Manager
Be ready to discuss or do something in your meeting that will help the manager with a problem she's facing now. Ask the manager to put a live problem on the table, so you can show how you'd go about solving it. This single technique—which relies totally on your work skills—does more to impress an employer than anything I've ever seen a candidate do in an interview. Roll up your sleeves! When you're done, ask to be reviewed like an employee.

Want The Job
Every day, job candidates fail to win offers for one reason: The employer isn't convinced the candidate wants the job. If you would accept a position given the right offer, don't leave the interview without telling the manager. Do you wonder why it sometimes takes an employer forever to give you a decision? It's partly because you probably never gave the employer a decision at the end of the interview. Look the manager in the eye and say, "I can do this job for you profitably—I want the job." Afraid you might ultimately end up turning the job down if it were offered? That's another issue. You can want a job but legitimately reject an offer that can't be negotiated to your satisfaction.

Here's the point: Would you hire someone to work on your team if they didn't make it clear they wanted to work with you? I wouldn't.

Worth, Value and Profit
Your worth is what makes an employer want to hire you. Your worth is determined by the value you offer the employer. That means you have to take the initiative in your job hunt. An employer cannot extract value from you—you must offer it. You can only offer value if you know what is valuable to the employer. That means a lot of research up front, before you approach any employer, and a lot of planning before you walk in the door to talk.

The headhunter earns his fee by establishing the worth of a candidate and the value to be offered before any meetings with the employer take place. You can do the same for yourself. The bottom line in any business enterprise is profit. It's the thing that enables us to survive to work—and succeed—yet another day. Your job hunt is a business enterprise. If it doesn't promise profit for the prospective employer, it won't produce profit for you—in the form of a healthy job offer.

Make your next interview count!

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I just downloaded
How to Work with Headhunters. Excellent! I will recommend that each of our Executive MBAs get this book. It's a very comprehensive treatment of every aspect of recruiting, search firms, career management firms and more. I especially like the Back of the Napkin section at the end. Looks like you thought of everything!

Susan Dearing
ProMBA Career Management Center
Anderson School of Management