February 28, 2013
How to run your own job interview
It happens all the time. Job interviewers are unprepared. Or inexperienced. Or untrained. Or have poor social skills.
In fact, many interviewers will appear to have never glanced at your resume. You may even arrive to find that they have completely forgotten about your appointment. So you always need to be prepared to, in essence, "run" your own job interview.
This can be tricky, because you don't want to give the impression that you think your interviewer is incompetent (even if he/she is). You will need to be subtle.
Start with a few gentle leading questions. "What's a typical day like in this job?" or "Can you describe the team?" should get the ball rolling. Then bring up your relevant qualifications, clearly relating them to the job under consideration. This is important. Even good interviewers do not always make these connections on their own.
Also important: Discuss your qualifications in descending order of most relevant to least relevant. This way, if your appointment gets cut short for any reason you will have made sure to convey the good stuff. Asking "How much time do we have?" is one way to pace the agenda, but be aware that some hiring managers don't like this.
Of course, you want to make the interview enjoyable. But keep in mind that too much chitchat about hobbies or vacations cuts into your time. You may need to be the one who gets the meeting back on track. For example: "Before we run out of time, I'd like to add ..."
Finally, make sure the interviewer knows you want the job (assuming you do). In sales-speak, this is called "asking for the order." Say, "I believe I can do a good job for you. What's the next step in the process?"
If you've played it right, the interviewer will never notice you've orchestrated the whole thing.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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