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|" Though a prospective employer has exhausted significant resources to pre-qualify you and the actual interview is generally just a formality, there are still some common interview faux pas that could jeopardize a formal offer... Read on > "|
The banter: You can think it, but don't say it Contrary to what you might have read in a lot of books that purport to know how to interview well, you don't need to know that much about about the company you're applying to. The interview is not a quiz covering last year's revenues; it's their opportunity to ferret-out candidates who just don't fit their corporate mold. To accomplish this, they generally make use of one of three interviewing styles: The interrogation. "The interrogation puts you on the offensive, and you must think before you speak," says HR consultant Ray Nicolet, formerly an agent with the ATF. "Your interview will probably be taped to, they'll say, 'protect both parties,' but that's just their way of implying every phrase you'll utter will be parsed later on for its most negative connotation. Keep cool, speak purposefully. Their goal is to see how you operate under pressure dealing with upper-management who are themselves very often intimidating." Here, according to Nicolet, is how a sample interrogation might transpire: Nicolet: Take a seat
Nicolet: I see a gap here on your resume. Where were you the period between May of 1980 and September of that same year?
You: Well, that was my junior year in college and basically that was what we called our "summer break."
Nicolet: And you have someone to corroborate that?
You: I suppose you can call my mother.
Nicolet: She's not listed here as one of your references. Why's that? Don't you think it's odd that she appears to be the only one who can substantiate your claim but yet, you didn't want our HR department to speak with her?
Nicolet: Here at Iserman's Scrap Metal, we deal with a lot of valuable materials and information. You know, iron is up to thirty cents a pound so we reserve the right to check employee briefcases each evening when they leave for the day. You have to understand we screen candidates very carefully.
Your thought bubble: And you have to understand I have two more interviews scheduled today.
You: Yes, I understand. I think I've taken enough of your time already. Thank you, and I hope to hear from you soon.
Nicolet: We'll be in touch, but in the meantime, don't leave town. The Dick Caveat. Mike Douglas, interviewer emeritus, picks-up a few extra bucks presenting a session at career fairs in the Midwest on the art of being interviewed. "There is a style of interviewing," Douglas says, "which we call the Dick Caveat. It's a way to trip-up the interviewee. You get them comfortable, ask them to tell you about themselves, then spring a question to get them squirming. The trick is to get them to reveal more about their private life than their professional life. The interviewee has to always be on guard to keep the discussion professional." Douglas offers the following hypothetical interview transcription to all the attendees of his session (the first hundred also get a pen with his autograph etched on it): Douglas: Don Lange, everyone. Welcome, it's good to see you again.
Your thought bubble: Again? I've never seen this man before in my life.
You: Well, Mike, it's nice to be here.
Douglas: So what have you been working on lately?
You: Well, I spent the last six months managing an application conversion.
Douglas: I understand you brought a PowerPoint presentation clip. Do you need to set this up?
You: Well, basically, what you're gonna see are the three foils where I project the two-year application maintenance savings.
Douglas: OK, Don, we're gonna see that clip right now.
Your thought bubble: Good grief!
Douglas: Excellent. I'm looking forward to seeing the presentation. What're you working on next?
Your thought bubble: Well, now that's really up to you, now isn't it?
You: Well, I'm looking forward to taking some time off to spend up in the mountains...
Douglas: Like a Ted Kazinski thing? You enjoy writing?
You: Not exac....
Douglas: Hey, we have to take a break right now...
Your thought bubble: If he needs to use the rest room, why doesn't he just excuse himself like anyone else instead of announcing it to the whole cubicle bay?
Douglas: ... stick around, Frank Gorshin's up next to answer the question, "whatever happened to that 70's singer with the hit, 'I Will Survive?'"
You: Thanks, I appreciate your time. May I sit down?
Interviewer: Sure. Or stand, if that makes you more comfortable. Kick-off your shoes, whatever.
You: This guest chair will be fine.
Interviewer: So, Don, how are you doing?
You: You mean, right now? In general? Or, career-wise?
Interviewer: It's actually just rhetorical. Does that question make you uncomfortable?
Your Thought Bubble: What's this guy's trip?
Interviewer's Thought Bubble: I'm sensing some resistance here.
Your Thought Bubble: I might be wrong, but it looks like this guy is giving me the evil eye.
Interviewer's Thought Bubble: I am feeling some cynicism. I need to earn his trust. Maybe I should tell him how we are industry leaders.
Your Thought Bubble: Industry leader, yea, right. I read you just extended domestic benefits to pet fish.
Interviewer's Thought Bubble: And how does that make you feel?
Your Thought Bubble: I don't know.
Interviewer's Thought Bubble: Are you having problems putting your thoughts into words?
You: No. I'm just having trouble resisting the temptation to take your eyeglasses off and jam the temple in your neck.
Interviewer: Good, good, it sounds like you have some anger control issues, but you're opening up.
You: Really, I am more interested in talking about your company.
Interviewer: We'll get to that, but why did you really leave your last job?
You: It's on my application there. I got laid-off.
Interviewer: Yes, yes, I read that, but really, why did you leave?
You: Because they eliminated my job.
Interviewer: Yes, I understand that is your reality of what happened, but why did you stop going to work?
You: Basically, because they took my key card away, suspended my logon id's, and changed the locks.
Interviewer: Don, c'mon. There's something you're not telling me.
You Thought Bubble: Yes, there's something I'm not telling you. Please lean closer so I can reach your eyeglasses.
Interviewer's Thought Bubble:I I heard that. It's a done deal If you sent a resume in the old days, a company at least had the courtesy to drop you a card acknowledging its receipt and that your application would be kept on file (albeit, circular) for ninety days, etc. Today, employers don't have the time for such considerations. They are desperate to fill vacant IT slots, and they're not flying you all the way out to their HQ just to see if you wear a funny hat. They're already sold on your resume and references, and they want you. Relax. The interview is just a formality, and if you keep your cool you have nothing to worry about. So unless you were so disliked at your last job that your only reference is your outplacement counselor... it's in the bag! //