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What to Say in an Interview

AUTHOR: Darlene Zambruski
POSTED: June 18, 2007 at 11:22 am

by Daniel Barcus, MBA, CPRW, Editor

There are three key steps you can take in any interview to make yourself stand out. Sticking to the point and staying focused on what you’re trying to achieve will help. Many interviewers want to appear friendly, but if you let yourself get steered into idle conversation, the interview may end before you’ve had a chance to sell yourself.

How Do You Answer – ‘Tell Me About Yourself?’

Interviews often start with a very friendly “tell me about yourself.” This is your first chance to set yourself apart from the pack of other applicants. Lead off with two or three major accomplishments, rather than the various bits of personal information most candidates will respond with. If you can do that, you’re already compelling the manager to hire you. A strong way to close that portion of the conversation is to ask “what are the most important things you need to have achieved for this job, so we can tailor our discussion to that?”

Ask Questions

Second, after you have presented your skills and experience, it’s a good idea to check in with the manager. One way to do that is to say “There is no such thing as the perfect candidate, but suppose I’m the last interview and you have to make a decision tonight. What reservations would you have about offering me this job right now?” When you ask a question like this, you have to be quiet and wait for an answer! If the manager has a question, or says that you don’t have much experience in one area, try to address that in a positive way, either by demonstrating where you do have that experience or how your other strengths will empower you.

Express Your Interest in the Position

Last, if you want the job, ask for it. In question form. “I really like what I’ve learned about your organization and leadership. This is the job I want. May I have it?” Again, be silent after you ask the question. Most interviewers will not be prepared to make an offer on the spot, but if they’ve talked to 20 candidates that day, they will remember the one candidate who asked for the job! Please note that pleading statements like “I hope you’ll offer me this job” do not have the same effect.

If you take these three steps, you will go a long way toward standing out in an employers mind as a strong, focused and capable candidate.