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Are Interview Shortcomings Killing Your Job Search?

Your topnotch executive resume has opened the door to job interviews, but you’re not reaching the second round. What’s wrong?

3 Interview Stages—Are You Handling Them Right?

This might be an over-simplification, but interviewing basically has three stages:

  1. Preparation
  2. Interview
  3. Follow-up

You can trip yourself up in any of the stages. However, if you nail each step, you increase your odds of success substantially.

Preparation: What You NEED to Do

Imagine your organization has a critical project that will contribute significantly to the company’s profit potential and competitive advantage. As a senior executive, you will lead the effort to gather critical business intelligence, then prepare and launch an action plan.

Now translate this situation to fit you as a senior-level job seeker pursuing a sought-after position. What do you need to know and do to make sure you’re “fighting fit” before interviews?

Don’t Blow the Interview!

All the preparation in the world won’t help if you blow the interview. There are at least some gotchas you can’t anticipate and prepare to counter in advance. For example, if you attended Harvard and find that the hiring manager is a dedicated Yale grad, you might have one strike against you at the outset.

However, if you know your stuff and have thoroughly researched the company’s situation, you should be able to communicate value that will resonate with the interviewer(s). Here’s a critical factor: Focus on value to the employer first; importance to you second.

If you anticipate facing one or more stumbling-blocks to your candidacy, such as lack of an advanced degree, come prepared to counter possible objections. For instance, if you can “sell ice to Eskimos,” that tells more about your value than the lack of an advanced degree does. Don’t let obstacles derail the interview and block you from moving forward.

Follow Up—Don’t Drop the Ball

It’s one thing to leave an interview believing you aced it and another to actually have the employer confirm that—or not. Before you leave, ask a few key questions. For example:

  • Can I share anything else with you that would help you view me as a top candidate for this position?
  • How soon do you expect to decide about hiring (or selecting 2nd-round candidates)?
  • May I check back with you in a few days to touch base?

Then make sure you follow up. Send a prompt, sincere and meaningful thank-you note to each person you interviewed with. If you find something potentially useful to share—such as information about a topic of interest to the interviewer—send it within a few days.

Without being obnoxious, persistently reconfirm your interest in—and value for—the position and the company.

Tip: Don’t put your job search on hold while you wait to see if you land a second interview. Keep the momentum going. If you manage the interview process expertly, you’ll strengthen your job search, not kill it!