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Mark Kolakowski

Interviewing Strategy

By November 6, 2012

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According to Paul Powers, a management psychologist and author of Winning Job Interviews, someone who is keen on getting a job at particular company should not accept an interview there unless he or she is in practice with job interviews. Better, he says, to speak to less desirable employers first, to get into solid interviewing form. That was the most interesting suggestion in the column.

Powers also has other suggestions, most of which you've probably heard before:

  • Be prepared for unprepared interviewers, who might not have a copy of your resume, let alone who have taken the time to read it. Bring extra copies, and be ready to take advantage of the situation: with an unprepared interviewer, you can take control of the discussion.
  • In any case, be prepared with specific questions about the company, to show that you've done research. Best of all, ask questions that go beyond the specific job you're seeking, and cover the company's overall state and direction.
  • Also be prepared to give a convincing, but not damaging, answer if you are asked to describe your weaknesses. Citing something that is not among the key skills related to the job is safest.
  • Be sure to close the interview with an assertion of your interest in the job. Get an estimate of how long the company expects to take before it responds to you. If you don't hear back by that time, contact them, but don't be a pest who leaves multiple messages.
  • Send a thank you note. Depending on your main mode of contact with the company, this can be via e-mail or a physical letter. If the latter, print your note on better quality paper than standard copier paper.

And, as a former boss and mentor of mine also emphasized, constantly drill a short (no more than a minute) "elevator speech" or "commercial" about what you can contribute to an organization.

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