October 22, 2014

You Got the Call! Now What??: 3 Quick Wins for an Impromptu Interview

For weeks, you’ve been STARING AT YOUR phone like a lovelorn teenager and then, today—just when you’d decided to put your focus elsewhere—you got the call! IT’S INTERVIEW TIME! Below, 3 ways to be at the top of your game when this happens to you:

First:

Be “Dress Ready”

This is a phrase my brother brought home from the Marine Corps, where you must have a clean and pressed uniform on hand at all times on the off chance a General (or some such) turns up. When you apply this Marine Corps phrase to job interviews, it translates as: you should always have an interview-ready kit in your closet consisting of a clean and pressed shirt, suit, tie, and polished shoes; plus up-to-date business cards, resumes and/or a portfolio. All of which means you can spend the time before the interview doing your background research on the company, not running to the dry cleaner or copy shop.

Next:

Agree and Add

“Agree and add” is the first rule of improvisational theater. In the business world this means the only answer to a question such as, “Can you come in this afternoon at 3?” is, “Yes, of course.” Not, “I think so. Let me check with my spouse/my babysitter/my trainer.” — after you hang up the phone, figure out the details on your own time. Similarly, if inquiries are made about a skill set that can be acquired via a weekend’s worth of hard work on your part–for example: “Do you know how to run a focus group, embed video in a presentation, coordinate a marketing newsletter blast?”– your answer should be, “Yes.” After that, cancel your weekend plans and do the research.

Finally:

Know Your Softball Swing

A ‘softball question” is one that’s so big you don’t know what to swing at. (A great example of this is, “Read any great books lately?”) In a job interview, two common softball questions are, “What did you like best about your last job?” and “Why do you want to come work for us?” In these moments, it’s best to go to a specific story, “The thing I liked best about my last job was the camaraderie. For example, one thing my team and I did was….” Or, “I want to come work for you because I’m a longtime fan of your bestselling product/your CEO/your business ethics. I remember when I first used it/met him/read them.” Etc.

Now go knock’em dead.

Frances Cole Jones

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