What to Expect, How to React and What to Say When the Interview Begins?

InterviewsBefore I begin, I want to congratulate Chris Perry on the newly updated Career Rocketeer website; it is super and will help job seekers and career changers even more in this competitive market.

Keeping with this thought, my standing offer of a free resume and social media review for CR readers still stands; and as another way to help Chris achieve his goal of making Career Rocketeer the #1 job search advice site on the internet, I am now offering a 15% discount on resumes until the beginning of the New Year.

Last week we covered the screening (de-selector) interview and today we will cover another line of interviewing you are bound to encounter

As I mentioned in last week’s post, a screening interview is generally an interview to screen you out of a position. On the flip side the Informational Interview is conducted to identify what you bring to the table and determine how qualified you are for this job, and perhaps other open positions in the company that you may be unaware of.

One thing to keep in mind is an informational interview is a two-way dialogue where you and the interviewer get to know each other. They will ask pertinent questions regarding what you are looking for in a job, what skills, experience and qualifications you have for the job you’re interviewing for, and in rare cases they may query you about salary.

From your perspective the informational interview is where you get to ask questions about the specifics of the job, why is the position available (replacement, addition to staff etc.), what expectations are they looking for from the candidate they will hire, and some general information about the company, the composition of the department and the person/ you will be reporting to.

Under no circumstance is this the time to bring up “what are the benefits”; i.e. how may vacation days, sick days and personal days do I get? What is the health plan and how much do I/you pay? What is the bonus structure like, etc.?

The key to succeeding in an informational interview is being prepared. The company representative knows exactly what information and character traits they are looking for, and they are prepared to dole out as much information to you as they deem necessary at this time. The more you impress them, the more information they will share with you.

Some interviewers will follow an open format of questioning that differs from one candidate to the next based on the quality of your resume and the perception they have about you before the interview begins. They will look to verify and validate their preconception of you; He’s a great candidate I don’t want to lose, he’s a mediocre candidate who needs to prove me wrong, he’s Ok, no better – no worse than the other’s I’m scheduled to meet. This interview will proceed in many cases based on the ebb and flow of information that is exchanged.

Another type of informational interview is conducted in a Directive Style.

The Directive style is where the interview has a specific agenda of what he or she wants to accomplish during the interview and the order, line of questioning, and even the questions themselves do not vary much from one interview to the next. Sometimes this style is dictated by the company and sometime it’s based on the interviewer’s personality. The one benefit to this style for both you and the company is that each applicant can be accurately judged in direct comparison to one another.

To succeed in this and all types of interviews it is important that you appear confident at all times and try to be as much in control of the interview as the person asking the questions.

Most people are led to believe the time for you to ask questions is at the end of the interview. This is not so.

You should be asking questions at all times, plus if a question is not asked of you that is relevant to why you are the person who is best suited for this job, you should politely find a way to take temporary control of the interview and bring this information out into the open. In an open interview the interviewer may pick up on this and pursue this line of questioning a little further. In a direct interview there is less chance of this happening.

In both interviews you should be prepared for the standard openers such as “tell me about yourself,” which you can use to your advantage. Also expect other broad, open-ended questions that you should be prepared to use to show how you are exactly what the employer is looking for.

In a directive interviews you should also expect more focused questions, and the key for you here is to stay on point, be accurate and concise with your answers, and whatever you do don’t digress. The best way to answer these and most interview questions is with illustrations from your past that allude to what you will be able to accomplish in the future.

Finally, the one question you need to ask within the first 2-3 minutes of the interview is this. “I know what the job posting (recruiter) said about this position. Can I ask you this, has anything changed about this position since then, and is there any additional information you think is important about this job that was not mentioned but is important to you?

Try this on your next interview and you will see why it is such a great ice-breaker and puts you on a more even footing with the interviewer.


Perry Newman, CPC CSMS is a nationally recognized executive resume writer, career coach, AIPC certified recruiter and SMMU certified social media strategist known for his ability to help his clients get results. You can view his sample resumes at http://www.perrynewman.com/, and email him your resume at perry@perrynewman.com for FREE resume critique.

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