Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Interview like a Rock Star

You just had a Rock Star interview….you walked out of the office and knew the job was yours for the taking. The company is dying for you, and even if you choose that this job isn’t the right move for you – at least the ego boost feels great.

There are two secrets to a Rock Star interview: Preparation and Execution.

Research - Rock Star preparation starts before you even write your resume. Research the company and industry, using SEC reports (if public), Company Website, press releases & Articles, Hoovers, Yahoo Finance, Google searches, social network contacts, and blogs. Find out everything you can about industry trends, how the company is reacting to them, or planning for them. Find out the company’s goals and challenges.

Peel - After you’ve done your research, start to peel the onion a little. Ask yourself what challenges the company is likely to face along the way. How will the company’s changes also change the area you are interviewing for? What problems are likely to arise that your Subject Matter Expertise can uniquely solve?

Solve Problems - Now you’re set to write a Rock Star resume – one that presents a solution to problems your target company faces. Throw out the old biographical resume. Instead, craft a resume that anticipates your target company’s problems, and demonstrates what you’ve already done to solve the exact or similar problems in your past experience.

Bait - To make a truly Rock Star resume, you’ll want to list a few points that cause the reader to ask more questions….questions that you’re dying to answer. Bait your resume with a few partial statements, and leave your audience curious to learn more, helping you to control the interview by what you’ve left out of your resume.

Prepare questions - Lots of them. Forget the questions about work environment career advancement and benefits – you’ll have plenty of time to ask these later. Ask questions to draw out problems and implications – of problems you can uniquely solve. Ask questions you already know the answer to, to see how the prospective employer answers, and how impressed they are that you had the insight to ask.

Anticipate - What questions will the interviewer ask you? Practice answering questions in a positive manner, while still telling the truth.

For management/professional roles - Go in with the attitude that you are interviewing the company…not the other way around.

Dress the part – see my earlier post What to Wear? Acing the Interview – Part 1

Open - Stand tall, maintain eye contact, smile, and use a firm handshake – just like Dad taught you.

Initial impressions count - Remember that people form an initial impression of you in the first 30 seconds. That’s before the interview even begins. Start it out with a little small talk or a quick joke – getting your audience to laugh goes a long way to pass the “likability test”.

Control the interview - For more on controlling the interview see my post on How to Take Control of the Interview.

Eye contact - Maintain eye contact while talking, but don’t stare the interviewer down either.

Questions - You control the interview and demonstrate both Subject Matter Expertise and leadership by asking questions. For more on questions to ask, see my earlier post Do you have any Questions?. Ask the same questions to different people in your interviews and see if they answer differently.

Turn negatives to positives - Why say you left because your boss was an insufferable jerk, when you can say that you didn’t agree with management’s direction? Wouldn’t you look wiser by anticipating the poor strategy of your company, than looking like you were a difficult employee for your boss? Don’t lie in your interview – it’s not necessary, and there’s a high likelihood you’ll get caught.

Close – Closing techniques will take a number of future posts to cover. In general, close by gaining some sort of feedback, and time/action commitment to next steps. If your interviewer is asking you what other companies you are interviewing with, you’re a finalist (not applicable for recruiters – headhunters ask this question to everyone). If your interviewer is asking you when you’ll be making your decision…you’re the Rock Star.

Re-Close - Send a Thank You note. For Thank You note strategies, see my earlier post Thank You! Make an Impact in 5 minutes.

Now that you’ve been through Rock Star School….what are you going to change in your next performance?

Executives exploring Career Change: For a free 30 minute resume consultation, or career advice for executives, email your resume confidentially to reCareered (, and we'll schedule a time to talk.

Staff, Managers, Entrepreneurs, and career changers outside the US: Send your resume to to enroll in a free group teleseminar "Accelerate Your Job Search - tools you can use".

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