Difficult interview questions fall into a few different categories, including stress questions (“I don’t think you’re good enough…”), seemingly off-the wall questions (“how do you find a needle in a haystack”), behavioral questions, including those that assume a negative (give me an example of a time when you had a difficult employee…”) and “greatest weaknesses” types of questions. In answering these questions, the key thing to remember is, as we say at the Five O’Clock Club, to play the interview “game”. More
Below are four of the areas that I focus on with clients when helping them to prepare for a job interview.
1) Be a consultant (take a strategic approach to the interview)
This is a whole mindset that can change the dynamic of the interview. You do this by figuratively sitting on the same side of the table as the interviewer, helping the interviewer solve her or his business problems. It’s NOT about just memorizing the answers to their questions and then asking three of your own (this is the way many job-seekers approach the interview). It IS about preparing extensively through research (like any consultant would), anticipating what issues they face, and gaining the understanding needed to demonstrate how you can help them.
2) Seek to tell two or three “stories” about your experience that are relevant to the interviewer, and that you’ve practiced beforehand.
Make it your goal to get these stories out in the interview. Use them in answering most of the interview questions you receive. Telling a story, or illustrating your expertise (i.e. saying “I have strong analytic skills, for example…”), can make all the difference between a lackluster interview and a powerful, compelling presentation. I tell clients to use a storytelling format, such as “problem, action, result” (or PAR), and make it interesting!
3) Surface objections to your candidacy by asking these two questions at the end of the interview…
1) How do I stack up against the other candidates? 2) Any reason you couldn’t see me in this position? These questions are essential to conducting an effective followup (see below). There’s a saying that the sale doesn’t begin until you find out what their objections are.
4) Follow up effectively (like any consultant would)– don’t write a thank you letter– write an influence letter.
Use the answers you receive from the questions above, and other questions you asked about their needs/issues, to write that powerful followup. Address their objections to your candidacy, if any, and show how you can help them solve their problems. The follow-up is often more important than the interview itself– I’ve seen numerous cases where candidates have turned a “no” into a “yes” from an effective followup.