Winning the Game of Interviewing for a Job

Winning the Game of Interviewing for a Job

Russ Mountain, CPC

It’s often not the most qualified candidate that gets the job.  It’s the one that plays the game the best.  If you don’t believe that, look at the last three U.S. Presidential elections.  Neither Clinton; Bush or Obama was the most qualified candidate for the job.  Their opponents were actually much more qualified for the job on paper.  Yet they won the highest job in the land by outplaying/interviewing their competition in the game of politics with the voting public as the decision makers.


Like any other game there are rules as well as effective strategies and techniques that can be applied.


Rule # 1

90% of the hiring decision is based on your actual performance in the interview / hiring process.  This is why games are always played.  Most analyst could easily tell you who’s got the better team and who should win the game.  Yet it’s the team with the most points on the board that day that wins it, and it’s not always the better team.  It’s the team who played the best that day.  The one who executed well, made fewer mistakes, had the better plan, and was better prepared.


Rule # 2

70% of how well you do in the interview is based on how well you prepare for it. Preparing for an interview takes time, effort and purpose:  Research the company; know the products and services they sell and into what markets.  Know how they are structured financially.  Public or private; private equity or venture backed; current stock price and recent history of sales, profits or losses, earnings per share; debt accumulated etc.


Specifically you need to understand the job you are interviewing for in as much detail as possible.  Your recruiter should be able to help you here.  Try to find someone else that is working for the company now that you can speak with.  It’s always good to speak with one of their customers to get their perspectives.  All this research helps you prepare to connect your background and competencies to the needs of the company and fit for the role.  It also helps you build your list of GREAT QUESTIONS to ask.  ALWAYS HAVE A WRITTEN LIST OF GREAT QUESTIONS to ask.  More lasting opinions are formed about you based on the quality and quantity of GREAT QUESTIONS that you asked vs the answers that you gave.  Ask questions that speak to: your depth of business acumen; familiarity with their business; overall business intellectual curiosity; and genuine interest and respect for the interviewer.


Now you are prepared for game day. Is your game day uniform ready to wear?  It amazes me that some professionals still fall short in the interview processes because they minimize the importance of details in this area.  Conservative, well fitting, dark suite; pressed shirt/blouse; stain free power tie; shined or new shoes; leather portfolio / day timer; dress pen; heavy on deodorant and lite on the perfume and cologne if any.


How long has it been since you have interviewed for job?  No time to practice.  This is the playoffs and its single elimination.  There is no tomorrow to make up for blown interviews.  The web is full of resources to help you get game ready, RMA has a lot of interview prep material at Our Career Tools.


Rule # 3

The game is not over until you have an offer in your hand.  Until you do there is still time for the competition to score enough points to beat you.  How well do you follow through after you have performed well in the interview process?  We have seen candidates come from behind to pull offers doing a great job in follow up.  We’ve seen candidates blow their leads with poor or mistake filled follow up.  Seasoned hiring professionals watch carefully what you do compare to what you say.  Your follow up needs to speak to the amount of thought, effort, initiative, creativity, and attention to detail that you will bring to the job.  Therefore, it should be prompt; letter and grammatically perfect; with specific relevance to the value / solution you bring.  This will reinforce their decision that you are their best choice. Make sure it does!


Understand these three rules.  Have a clear game plan to make sure you leave the interview knowing exactly what they want and that you have clearly communicated everything you have to meet that need, and have uncovered and addressed any of their concerns, and most importantly, have a firm commitment from them to being a part of the next step or job offer. 


Do all this with a high degree of courage and consideration and you cannot lose.