[10.10.08]
4 great comments!

Job Interviews Can Be A Real Bore

I’m sorry, but job interviews can be a real bore. If you get an interview with a company and have four people to meet, the odds are that two of those interviews will be boring. What do I mean by boring? Well, there are a lot of people asked to interview who don’t do it very often and don’t really know what to ask. There are also those that are so scripted that the candidate is forced to fall back on answers that are also scripted. If the interviewer was nervous or unsure going into the meeting and remained that way through until the end, you will be blamed for it.

Boring interviews end up in a cycle of generic interaction that leads the interviewer to neither like you or dislike you. In the post-interview meeting that most companies have, you will likely not stand out. Instead, as you are peeling off your business suit or scraping off your fancy interview shoes, you are being described as “OK”, “good gal/guy” or “capable”. Not very inspiring for the hiring manager and not much cover if he/she wants to make you an offer.

Whether your fault or not, you have not broken through to this interviewer. Because the interview was uneventful, even if the fault of the interviewer, you are going to pay the price.

So how can you turn a boring interview into a memorable one?

Turn the discussion around to focus on the interviewer.

In some cases, this will be a relief. They were not comfortable asking questions anyway. In other cases, they will love the idea of sharing a success or describing a key project that they led.

Yes, you have to take over. But you have to be careful. Each interviewer is different and may require a different style of takeover. Sometimes one question from you can change the entire structure of the interview, make it more personal and provide the opening for you to become more than just one of five candidates being seen that day.

How about some ideas, you say?

1. Ask the first question and keep asking. Here’s an easy one: How long have you been with (COMPANY)? Kicks off the interview as conversational and sets the tone a bit. If you sense that the interviewer likes talking, ask additional questions to better understand his/her role in the company and what influence they may have on the position in question. Once you’ve established a more conversational format, you can introduce key points about yourself with more precision.

2. Ask a personal question that focuses attention on the interviewer in a positive way. “What have been your best moments here at (COMPANY)?” This allows them to share something with you and allows you to follow-up in a number of different ways. If the response is that the interviewer was critical in the installation of a new piece of plant equipment, ask him to show it to you. Oh, how an interview changes when you can get up, walk around and get conversational. You are now building a relationship and having an impact. And, by the way, everyone else you are interviewing with sees you on your walk – you look to be getting special treatment, right?

3. Ask questions to introduce your key and unique skills. Ask a question like: Do you have a system to consistently guarantee new products will launch on time? After they answer, you are free to describe your skills here and cement yourself as someone who can make a quick and substantial positive impact. Be careful not to ask questions that could potentially embarrass an interviewer or force them to look less than strategic.

Now I hear some of you saying: “Hey, I’m thankful for every interview I can get. I need interviews, boring or not to get myself back in business!”. I hear you. In times when interviews are hard to come by, your ability to make a really positive and obvious impact is crucial. You want the interview team to come in to the candidate review meeting with words like “wow”, “I could see him starting here tomorrow”, “that’s the one we need”. And those reactions won’t come from a team of four when two of the four are asking standard questions and getting acceptable, standard answers. Don’t wait until the end to ask your questions. You may run out of time and, for sure, you will not stand out.

By getting conversational, you give the interviewer a preview of you in the job – as if, instead of an interview, this meeting is being held well into your first week at the company.


Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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Categories: Job Interview Tips

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