Parry, Riposte!

I was in motion all day Friday, which was pretty good considering I was running on little sleep and recovering from a hay fever attack I'd suffered the evening before. I had two job interviews, one in Greensboro, the other in Winston-Salem. I couldn't reschedule one, especially since I don't get too many interviews these days. I also don;t yet have a car, so it took some very careful planning on my part.

But I did it.

I think they both went well. Both interviews seemed positive, but again, I've learned not to count the paycheck before the tax forms are signed. Still, I'm glad I took that workshop at Guilford JobLink. I remembered a bunch of tactics that I employed during my interview in Winston, which was with a very large firm (operations in four states).

Some interview tactics are just common sense: treat everyone you run into at the company with respect, not just the interviewer; prepare your answers ahead of time, especially questions concerning your employment history and your future goals; research your target company as thoroughly as you have time and brain capacity for -- you never know what topics will come up; and show through your voice and body language that you want the job (which I did). I caught myself slouching a couple times, not out of disinterest, but because of fatigue. But I corrected the situation quickly, straightening up in the chair and keeping my gaze firmly locked on my interviewer.

Some interviews adminster a test of your abilities. Make sure you follow all instructions to the letter, even if you've done it a million times before or the instructions seem silly. And don't be afraid to ask questions. I try to prepare at least three questions in advance to ask the interviewer. This seems to impress them and make them take your application more seriously.

In fact, here's another piece of advice I'll pass along from my workshop. The most powerful question you can ask the interviewer is: "Would you describe for me your ideal candidate?" Then listen closely to the answer, because what you'll do then is become that candidate. For example, if the interviewer responds with "My ideal candidate is someone who is well-versed in Microsoft Word, can quickly learn our proprietary software, and can stay overtime if needed during the week," you'll reply: "You know, in my last job, I used Microsoft Word on a daily basis to produce correspondence. I had to learn how to run several auxiliary programs very quickly when our Office Manager was out sick, and I almost always stay until the work is complete, even if that means I'm still at my desk when everyone else has gone home*." What have you just told the interviewer? You've told her that you have a mastery of their preferred software, that you can pick up other skills quickly so that you'll be even more useful, and that you put dedication and productivity ahead of the nine-to-five. Even if you don't get the job, you definitely go on the short list to get called in in case the person they hire walks out in front of a truck (hey, you never know...) I've already landed on two short lists doing that.

In fact, if you think about it, the entire interview is nothing but a series of parries and ripostes. Just make sure your parries and ripostes land without throwing you off balance.

*Obviously, your answers will vary. Just make sure your crafting yours to the reply you get from the interviewer, plugging in your experience and skills where needed. And tell the truth while you do it. But you knew that...

I've been reading your blog for some time now, and as I'm also looking for a job at the moment, I thought I could at least talk about the last destabilisation attempt I faced. I had already met the Technical Manager and I was now facing someone from HR. The feeling was very different from previous interviews, very cold.
The interviewer told me to sit down and asked me straight away to "tell [her] about [my] studies and work experience" (I'm a young graduate). She then proceeded to look down on her desk, pretending not to pay attention to me.
When I finished my speech, she didn't say much for what felt like minutes, an occasional "ok", "good" or "yes", but nothing more. For the remaining 30 minutes, it felt like she was purposely creating an emptiness.
Facing an interviewer who leaves huge blanks in the conversation, I believe it's dangerous to fill them out. It gives the impression of being lost or afraid and there's a risk you're going to let something slip that you didn't want to tell.

Parry and riposte but if the opening is too wide, it may be a dangerous feint.
I ve encountered that also. Simple psychological tricks, you know?
Good luck. I had an interview last week. I hate the whole job seeking process such BS! It's nerve racking. BTW both my parents are from Winston-Salem we might know some of the same people I still have lots of family in North Cacky Lacky. I spent every summer as a kid going down south :)
You sound like your rhythm is picking up. Two interviews is a lot to land these days! (I KNOW) Thanks for sharing your tips; it's nice to hear advice from someone who has a realistic view of the market today, not just someone trying to collect your money in exchange for their "expertise."
I suppose that's fencing talk ;)

I've been with my company since about 1999, and I'm SURE my interview skills stink! Or, at least, I just don't enjoy them... I do a lot of praying ahead of time for something I say a lot (which is "God, please guide my tongue and don't let me say anything stupid") and just hope for the best.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?