Acing the Interview by Harvey Mackay

No single job hunting skill outranks knowing how to interview successfully. When pilots fly, they step through a rigorous preparation checklist before each take off. Apply the same procedure in landing a job. The choice between a job interview being a picture-perfect three-point touch-down and a gruesome crash-and-burn is totally up to you.

My new book, Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door, does interviewing head to toe, but this seven-point checklist will go a long way toward scoring your precious at-bat into a base hit.

  • Do your homework. An interview is an exam. Thoroughly research the firm on the Internet. Use all of your personal contacts to learn about your potential boss and this person’s likes and dislikes.
  • Think timing. Often timing is something beyond your control, but, if you have the chance, influencing two factors can prove powerful advantages. If a company will see a roster of candidates for a particular job, it’s often better to be considered in the middle or toward the tail end of the process. Sure that’s a risk, but companies also usually have a better idea of what they want once they’ve seen several candidates. If you’re on the docket later, they’re also more likely to have a fresher impression at decision time. Another consideration: If you’re definitely a morning or evening person, you may not want to broadcast that fact. That said, you still may want to schedule your meeting for the time of day you really shine.
  • Check out a company’s reception area and an interviewer’s office. If company softball trophies dominate the lobby . . . or if the exec’s bookshelves are lined with dog-eared copies of the complete works of Peter Drucker, that should tell you something.
  • When you go to an interview lunch, forget the grub. You’re there to land a meal ticket, not to wolf down a free lunch. Eat a power bar before you go.
  • Don’t pressure the prospect company for an immediate decision. Showing a sense of urgency never hurts, but an increasing number of job offers hinge on at least two sets of interviews and often more. Think of yourself as a guest in someone’s home. You want your host to eagerly invite you back to continue your conversations. 
  • Anticipate a dialogue. Always come to the interview armed with intelligent questions about the job and the company. Ask the interviewer about their most important experiences at this firm. Not only is this politically smart, you can also learn key cues about the person’s values and motivations. Somewhere in the conversation, there’s bound to be small talk. It’s up to you to make that small talk big by being up to speed on the latest business news, industry trends, and – increasingly – personal technology you need to do your job.
  • After the interview, do two things immediately: (1) key in or record your debriefing of what you learned in the interview, and how you believe it went well . . . and badly. (2) Then handwrite (and personally deliver to the receptionist) a thank you note for the person who interviewed you and why you are even surer now you are the best person for this job.

What if you sense the pressure and scrutiny grow in an interview? Take it as a compliment. Always remember, the closer you get, the harder they’ll look.

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  1. Hey, thanks for moving forward with the blog idea! I like this direction better than the newsletter way, even though I read those too. It’s valuable to me to know you’ll remind me from time to time to check on the blog for the new material, thanks for that. I’ll be able to review previous articles and read comments from your audience as well. I’ve been in your audience for years, now. From cassettes, in person, on videos to online and now blogging. Wow! 28 years of real estate for me…and utilizing your techniques all the way. Thank you!

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