How To Prepare For Interviews

By Dan Resendes, Chief Consulting Officer at The Barrett Group

Most job seekers are concerned with finding out about the company, opportunity, the compensation and individuals with whom they will work. All interviewers are concerned with finding the most qualified candidate.

The most important strategy when preparing for interviews is to focus on qualifying yourself for the opportunity.  Any concerns about the company, opportunity, compensation and the team should always be deferred until you receive an offer.

It may seem odd, but it is critically important to focus the limited about of time you have during the interview to ensure the interviewer feels that you are expertly qualified. Even when they ask you for any questions you may have.

When asked for their questions, most job seekers will ask questions related to the company’s plans for growth. Some will ask questions about how employees are treated.

Many people ask about the culture of the company, the opportunity for advancement, tools they will have at their disposal or even dive into questions about salary or compensation. This is a BAD strategy.

Remember the famous quote from John F. Kennedy?

Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.

By asking questions that prove to the interviewer that you are concerned with their needs, you will uniquely qualify yourself as the only job seeker who is on the same page as the company.

Considering you have approximately 35-60 minutes to prove you are a perfect fit, you should instead ask the following questions:

  • What are the major challenges my department is facing?
  • Are there any burning issues that need to be addressed?
  • What will be my #1 priority?
  • What are the successes that my department is most proud of?
  • What are the department’s weaknesses?
  • If you were in my shoes, what would you focus on for the first 30 days?
  • Which liaison partnerships are the most important for success in this position?
  • Given the makeup of the team and individuals I will be working with, what type of management style would you suggest as being most effective?
  • What is the “customers” expectation?
  • What is the most important area that you will view when judging my success?
  • Ask your boss: “Let’s say that you hired me 6 months ago and you feel that I am the best hire you have ever made. What would I have had to accomplish during that time to make you feel that way?

AND… FINALLY, THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION:

  • Do you feel my background and experience are a good fit for your needs?

Asking the last question above is critically important.  “Do you feel my background and experience are a good fit for your needs?”, allows you to know where you stand and offers the opportunity for you to correct any misperceptions as well as providing additional critical information.

You will be able to clearly define next steps and timing. You will always end the interview knowing how well you did.

If asked, “Don’t you have any questions about the company, the pay or the people with whom you will work?” You can simply state, “Sure, but I am more interested in qualifying myself for the job.”

Once the top candidate has been selected, then the timing for questions about what is in it for you would be appropriate.

The Barrett Group is a boutique career management firm for executives with a basic service philosophy focused on serving each unique client employee uniquely.  We do not believe in a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach.  Our service delivery is designed around this belief.

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