Do you interview like a master?

We had a summary call with one of our clients the other day:
Career Angel, “How is your job search going? I saw that you had 8 interviews during the last 4 weeks.”
Client, “It’s really bad. Nothing concrete.”
Career Angel, “But you’ve had 24 interviews over the past 3 months.”
Client, “No, no… I had only 4 real interviews. The other ones were just general calls or meetings.”
[Note: our client actually generated 2 job offers, one of which was accepted.]

First things first. What is an interview?

What is an interview?

An interview is every interaction while actively or passively looking for a job, especially:

  • screening calls that last 5-20 minutes
  • non-obligatory, “let’s-get-to-know-to-each-other”-coffees
  • interviews without a concrete role

Remember: nobody is bored. Everyone has an agenda that is not necessarily shared with you.

Headhunters who invite you to a meeting without having a concrete brief might have the following intentions (in order of probability):

  • they (will) have something; and they’ll tell you about the role during the meeting if you’ve presented yourself convincingly and if they see that you are a potential fit
  • they see a potential client in you; so the meeting is a business development opportunity for them
  • they are extending their market expertise and network in general

You might now say, “Why don’t they tell me that there’s a potential project upfront? It’d save everyone a lot of time.” An Executive Search Consultant is by extension a representative of their client which means that they protect their interest. If a C-level recruitment project is confidential, it shall remain confidential. Hence no sharing. Unless those two criteria are fulfilled:

  • you’ve presented yourself convincingly and professionally
  • you are a potential fit

What’s the agenda of a decision maker to want to meet with you “for a coffee”? They usually have something very concrete in their mind:

  • a problem you could solve and none of their current team members has been able to do so to date
  • ideas & inspiration
  • employer branding

These non-obligatory meetings are the toughest ones. You want to present yourself from the best side, but you don’t know
a) if there is any project
b) if you are a good fit
c) if it is a good fit for you

Even more reasons not to take them lightly and prepare even more!

Would you believe that only 10% of our clients think that they actually need to prepare for interviews? 90% are of the opinion that they are (really) good. After hundreds of interview simulations every year, we know that the opposite is true. Why? Because these experienced executives:
…have not been at an interview for many years
…do not feel comfortable selling themselves
…do not realize that recruiting people is not the same thing as being recruited!

Sandra Bichl explained all that recently during a workshop for the Alumni Association of the Warsaw University of Technology Business School. It was a continuation of a cycle of career-management related workshops, which was initially planned to consist of 3 sessions, and thanks to the great interest from the participants a 4th one was organized.

The workshop was very interactive and practical. We asked the audience to write down the questions they struggled with the most during interviews. Here a selection of the questions that we managed to role play and discuss in detail:

  • could you tell me something about yourself?
  • why did you decide to change your job?
  • what is your motivation towards changing a job?
  • why are you interested in this particular job?
  • why should I hire you?
  • why are you interested in changing your industry?
  • what are your strengths / weaknesses?
  • what kind of manager are you?
  • could you describe a difficult situation and how you handled it?
  • what would your boss / former employees tell us about you?
  • where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • what kind of boss gets the best of your?
  • aren’t you overqualified for this position?
  • can you give me 3 examples of both strengths and weaknesses of our company?
  • do you have any questions for me?
  • how much would you like to earn?

At this point, we’d also like to thank once again the Alumni Association of the Warsaw University of Technology Business School for inviting us and for a great cooperation during the last year.

Last, but not least, feel free to use our interview preparation materials:
Interview Guide
Interview Preparation