From the Other Side of the Desk: What You Really Need to Know About Interviews and Face to Face Meetings

You’ve read the “how to write a killer résumé” books, and you can talk at length about your work history.

You’ve written down questions to ask at the end of the interview. You have solid references. Now you’re ready for the inside scoop.

From someone who has interviewed, screened, passed over or turned down thousands of young professionals whose dreams came up short, I can tell you one thing:

It wasn’t a lack of experience that got em. It was a lack of awareness.

Below are ten items that will instantly elevate your selfsocial and influential awareness.

1. Learn to tell a good story.

Interviews are story-telling sessions. Be clear, concise, compelling and consistent. If I had to choose one it would be concise, because that also makes you clear and compelling.

2. Own your power, and own your accomplishments: with humility.

This is a slippery slope. I cannot tell you exactly how to do it. But I know when someone needs to tone down the self-importance and bravado, and when someone needs to step up to the plate and own it.

A little self-deprecating and modesty combined with a look em in the eye balls and own your victories. Be mindful of your body language. Shoulders back and down. Lots of eye contact. Slight smile.

3. A prospective employer has a bunch of problems that have to be solved.

He needs to know that you can solve them. The way to convince him is by demonstrating that you have solved them in the past. You must communicate all of the great things you have done in terms of benefits, not features with real stories. His very job may be riding on solving those problems – he needs you every bit as much as you need him.

4. There is no way you can be that is more powerful, more convincing, more appealing than Authentic.  Genuine.  Yourself.

It makes you relatable, likable and trustworthy. Drop the role-play.  Keep it real. Ironically, this takes practice! The best way is to practice being vulnerable in your personal life.

During the interview, open up. Show yourself. It takes courage, and you will stand out from the pack by admitting you like movies about time travel, or moved back to Texas to be closer to your father, who inspires you daily. Etc.

5. Employers and headhunters do not use resumes to qualify candidates; they use them to DISqualify candidates.

Zero tolerance on errors or inaccuracies of any kind. Provide a résumé employer as late in the game as possible. Don’t just send out your resume so freely. When possible, use a cover letter, initially, to communicate with prospective employers. Be brief and to the point.

Demonstrate that you understand the challenges they face and detail (briefly) that you have faced those challenges in the past and conquered them. Chin up. Use your hands, take up space, but don’t fidget.

6. Don’t be TOO anything.

Too long. Too short. Too informal. Too formal. Too nice or Too cold. Too eager. Or too aloof. Don’t ever be late, but don’t be too early. And above all, don’t be needy or desperate.

A healthy amount of desire for the job is fine, but neediness has a stench all its own. They know you’re interested. Convey that you always have other options.

7. Never be caught off  guard by an interview question.

There are only so many. Get the marbles out of your mouth before the interview. Create a series of elevator pitches. Practice them and then throw them away so they don’t sound rehearsed. Your employment history. Your education.

Your x-factor – what makes you different.

Your values – what type of person you are.

Your ideal – what you are looking for.

Above all, your value proposition – what you can bring to the table.

Each one is a few sentences at most. 60 seconds tops. Yes, time it. When a headhunter or prospective employer calls you and asks you to tell him a bit about yourself, launch into your elevator speech. This is money in the bank.

8. Don’t be Generic.

Do research online and learn about the organization. Avoid clichés. Generic management and leadership jobs do not exist. Companies face very specific strategic challenges during their life cycles. You need to know what those are and articulate why you are the person to tackle them.

9. Don’t lie.

Ever. If there is something that you don’t have experience in or familiarity with, look him in the eye and say so… and that you are looking forward to adding that skill set.

10. Take total responsibility for your life.

For everything. Own it all. With power. No excuses, no blame. No resentments over previous employment. Like a typo on a resume, excuses, blame, victimization are instant disqualifiers.

On the other hand, a person who really gets..”IF it’s to be, it’s up to me”….makes you irresistible. And this self-awareness is the most powerful antidote to a lack of experience.

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