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Adele Scheele

Adele Scheele

Posted: January 14, 2010 09:47 AM

Acing the Interview When You're Not the Interview Type: How to Un-stack the Deck

What's Your Reaction:

If you are artistic or technical, you probably hate being interviewed more than anyone else.

Why?

Because you are focused on the merits of your work; you measure your success by the sheer quality of your work. In that way, you are trapped like a Good Student who prepares exactly for the test's questions. In school, giving those correct answers has always rewarded you with good grades and automatic promotion. And that has reinforced the idea that work is just like the big Test with right and wrong responses and therefore you will be taken care of by the system. But, work is not like school. To be hired or promoted, you need a lot more than right answers. In addition to displaying your talents and skills, you have to make your prospective employer fall in love with you. That's right: an interview is more like a courtship than a test. And that's good!

Strategies to ace the interview:

1. Learn all you can about the organization. Look online for info and contacts. Find friends and colleagues who know people who work there. Talk to them; get the insider's scoop on who they are looking for and what they expect. Uncover any similar interests between you and other employees. For example, did the interviewer(s) go to the same university that you did? Are they as crazy about soccer or jazz or vegetarianism as you are? The more you know about them before you walk in, the easier it will be for you to make the necessary and too often underestimated small talk. That bonding will open the door for them to like you back. That's right: liking you is as important to them as needing your skills. There are many who can compete with your abilities, but employers are looking for a great fit. And if you are honest with yourself, so are you, even if you don't recognize it yet.

2. Try to see a copy of someone's resumé who works there so you that yours will line up. Look over your own resumé to expand your achievements and minimize small filler jobs you might have had along the way. Remember the old Johnny Mercer song: Accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative? Being too modest on a resume and in an interview is a mistake.

3. Weird as it will feel, make yourself rehearse out loud answers to the inevitable questions about who you are, what your talents and skills are, how you contributed to your prior company, why you want this job, and why you should be hired. You would make a mistake giving only short, simple answers. Instead, you have to create a script focusing on your best side. Don't casually recite a list of where you were born and reared, what your major was, places you worked. You have to make meaning of your story. As enthusiastically as you can, share the discovery of your keenest interests, mentors who encouraged you, and projects that make you the proudest. That means you need to have at the tip of your tongue several explanations about you and your accomplishments. Your answers lie not in the facts alone, but in how they got shaped: your accidental discoveries, your support systems, your intellectual pursuits.

4. And ask for the job. If they say they are still interviewing, ask for their concerns about you so that you can address them right away.

Make your luck happen!