Overcoming the Job Interview
by Daniel Silvert
There is a key moment in many
interviews typically towards the end when the interviewer asks, Do
you have any questions for us? This represents a tremendous opportunity
that is often missed. Heres the chance to surface liabilities about
your background that have not yet been discussed.
One possible response could be:
I have a question or two
about the position, but first, is there anything about my background
that you would like me to clarify at this stage that would otherwise
prevent a next step from taking place?
Why this works
In most interviews there is typically an elephant in the room. Perhaps
your experience is primarily within another industry and that concerns them,
or you have not had direct P&L experience, or the project requires expertise
in particular technology in which you are less than an expert. The elephant
is very often not brought up spontaneously by the interviewer, yet it can
end your candidacy if not addressed. By asking the above question, you can
at least try to surface any outstanding issues.
There are three likely responses
to your question:
A) Not at all, we are very
impressed with your background. Unfortunately, this response is false.
There is a problem with your candidacy but they are not going to discuss
it. Your response is to shift the focus to questions about the position
B) Not at all, we are very
impressed with your background. Fortunately, this response is true.
Since there is no way to distinguish A from B, your response is the
C) We are very impressed
with your background, however, we are speaking with candidates who have
more direct experience in our particular industry niche and that is
something that we need to consider as we move forward.
The following four-step process addresses a revealed liability, as
illustrated in Response C. For starters, take heart that the company is
taking valuable time to meet with you despite your known liabilities. Why?
Because they are giving you the opportunity to overcome them. The winning
candidate is rarely the one with perfect credentials, even in a buyers
market. Chemistry and an enthusiastic meeting of the minds can significantly
reduce the impact of liabilities in your background. By answering your
question honestly, the interviewer has given you a critical opportunity to
win the day.
Step 1: Thank them
Thank you for your candor.
I can understand how industry experience factors into the equation of
who is best suited to the role.
This response demonstrates that you are not going to respond
defensively. If the interviewer believes that you may be too young, had
too many job changes, or do not possess enough industry experience,
suggesting that their opinion is misguided will only harden their
stance. Thanking them grants the interviewer psychological space to let
go of the liability.
Step 2: Qualify them
My understanding thus far
is that you are looking for someone who can deliver the following: A,
drive down operations costs. B, diversify vendor relationships. C,
reduce process and procedure complexities. Is my understanding of the
core needs of the position accurate?
If your assumptions are
off-base, then this gives you the opportunity to gain greater clarity
about the role. In most cases, however, the answer to your question will
be Yes. This re-directs the focus to your core competencies in
delivering solutions to their needs. The elephant is still in the room,
but it is no longer blocking the view.
Step 3: Lead them to yes
If I could further
illustrate that these are the areas that I have excelled at through-out
my career, delivering tremendous benefits to my previous companies,
could that partially allay your concerns overall?
A positive response is very
likely since they would not be wasting their time if your candidacy were
Step 4: Provide evidence
In my last position at ABC
Company I led a team through a project which
Now that the core deliverables of the position have been established,
illustrate your achievements in these areas preferably through a short
story that allows the interviewer to visualize your success.
Overcoming liabilities that may
prevent your candidacy from moving forward is a critical aspect of
successful interviewing. Having the confidence, poise, and agility to
respond to objections leaves a lasting impression that you are able to
handle a challenge with conviction and grace.