Interviewing Trade Secrets

John Dir
 


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When most people sit in a job interview, the last person they want to project is their true self. This is not to say that anyone intends to provide any false or misleading information about talents, experience, or skills. The intent of people who interview for a job is to project the most positive aspects of their personality and skills possible, while avoiding being trapped into providing too much negative information about their past efforts. If the practice of interviewing is examined with a critical eye, it is more focused on bringing together potential resources to determine if there is a fit. Both the interviewer and the candidate come together to pursue a dialog with a specific agenda. You are not arriving at an interview to visit with trusted friends and share intimate stories about what has been going on with you lately, no matter how relaxed the atmosphere may appear to be. Most people arrive feeling somewhat nervous and apprehensive about the sort of questions they will be tasked to answer, and hoping they will be able to effectively demonstrate how their background matches the requirements of this potential new opportunity.

Just as the interviewer will be looking to surface both the strengths and weaknesses of the candidate, a skilled candidate should be paying equally strong attention to the chinks in company armor, to evaluate whether or not they will truly want to associate with this potential workplace. An interview is like any other kind of negotiation between people. Both sides of the table will be equipped with strengths and weaknesses, and each party will be trying to accomplish the best possible situation for themselves in coming to an agreement. The company will be engaged in pumping up its value to you, and you will be engaged in convincing them of your own ultimate worth to them. At the same time they are trying to find the red flags that show them you are or are not what they are looking for, you should be equally ready to discover the warnings that let you know whether or not you truly want what the company has to offer.

One of the most frequent mistakes made by candidates is to immediately place themselves in the “hot seat. ” They go into the interview feeling they are at a disadvantage, and must focus all their energy in trying to create the best impression of worthiness they can muster. This over eagerness to please is what actually does put you into an inferior role. No matter how significant your past accomplishments have been in working with previous employers, companies tend to make people feel like they are experiencing the highest of honors to present themselves for scrutiny, when in actuality, you may just be the best candidate they have ever found to fill their present opening. You will be much better off if you present yourself with the attitude that your ARE the best they could ever hope to find.

Even professionals in offering interviewing advice tend to reinforce a mistaken role for the job candidate. If you are asked a question by a representative of the firm that is none of their business, you should not flounder for an answer to an inappropriate question. A better approach is to ask your own questions about why they are probing for the information, and keep after them until they ask something you find worthy of a response. It is never a sin to interrupt the pompous attitude of an interviewer and inquire what they are looking for by asking you such questions. This can be done with a professional attitude, observing all the rules of appropriate and businesslike behavior. You should be able to treat an interviewer like a potential customer who is asking you questions about a product you have expert knowledge about. After all, who knows more about you than you do? If you want someone to buy a product you believe in, you will be interested in selling all the positive aspects of what the product has to offer, and down playing the things that might not be so appealing without having to lie about it. If you are truly not already sold on the fact that you are perfectly able to do anything you set your sights on accomplishing, you should not be trying to sell the idea to someone else.

The real reason why so many candidates are mechanically at a disadvantage when they come to an interview is that they do not fulfill their role as a seeker as often as the interviewer fulfills their role in screening candidates. To further complicate the plight of job candidates, many people completely abandon the information they accumulated between jobs, and start from scratch every time they go back to the process of looking for work. They turn up the learning process for success while they are engaged in seeking a position, then turn it off completely after they find a job. A vastly neglected secret to your personal success is the value of collecting, maintaining, and refreshing the information and techniques that have worked, and remembering what has not worked for you in the past. If you make the mistake of trying to keep all this information in your head, your brain will dump out increasing amounts of this “personal goldmine” over time. The longer you spend without engaging the lessons you have learned from your own experience, the more likely it is for you to have to rediscover the information when the need arises for you to go hunting for it again. As an employee for any company, one absolutely cardinal rule you should always keep in the back of your mind is the fact that your best chance for improving your income lies in moving between jobs. You are more likely to receive a significant increase in your salary by selling yourself to a new opportunity than you are to wait for your present employer to reward you with annual salary reviews.

If you do not start with the information that got you into your current position, when it comes time to craft your resume for your next job hunting experience, you are shooting yourself in the foot. A second cardinal rule for you to remember in seeking employment is to recognize the fact that if you make it to an interview stage, representatives of the company have already reached a potential “Aha!” moment in reviewing the information they found expressed on your resume. No matter how the interviewer presents their own attitude toward you, something has already intrigued them enough to explore your potential for their position. Your task is to listen carefully for what this point of interest is from their perspective, and leverage it as much as possible to close the deal.

The third most important rule for you to remember is not to be manipulated into naming your price. If you ever sell anything, placing a monetary price on something is difficult at best before you first establish what the product is worth to the person who will be paying for it. Telling an interviewer what you feel you are worth prior to establishing their willingness to offer you the job will always result in the perception that you are asking too much or too little for what you have to offer. As a potential candidate, you are absolutely always the commodity being offered up for sale in this transaction. With the company as your potential customer, you must first establish what their perception of your worth is before you attempt to offer them a discount, or up sell your services. Once you establish the starting value of what they are willing to pay, you can then make an informed decision on whether or not to accept what they are willing to give for the benefit of your services. You can always be sure that a company which is skilled in doing business will never offer you top dollar for your services on their first approach. Also, they will never offer you more than they can afford to pay. Your obligation to yourself is to find out the maximum value of your services, and not to seek a penny more or less than what the responsibility is worth to accept. Your interview will help both you and your potential employer determine that value. NEVER let your desperation for income or finding work be your guiding light for getting what you are worth. It is always better to take on an interim job and continue seeking opportunity at full throttle than it is to devalue what you have learned, and try to negotiate from a point of weakness.

I have developed some powerful tools for myself in furthering my own goals in reaching for the prize, and this information is part of that quest. If you think I can help you, feel free to visit my website to send me your thoughts.

Director of Software Concepts BHO Technologists - LittleTek Center HTTP://home.earthlink.net/~jdir

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