Is it the sport or is it the commercials?

As I watched the Super Bowl last night, it became painfully apparent that I was watching for the commercials, not the game.  The thought made me think that would be one of those crafty, sneaky interview questions that employers like to throw in.  You know the ones -“Are you a hunter or a gatherer?”   Can’t you see it now, “Do you watch the Super Bowl for the game or the commercials?”

Interviews are tough!!  In those moments, we are in the sales presentation of ourselves.  Even the best presenter can get unnerved.  Here are some things to consider before going in that will help you make the most of your time there:

1)   Know where you are going – Not just an address. No, no, no.  I’m taking study that job description and think through the attributes that are important to make it work.  Similarly, do as much research and talking to folks about the culture of the potential employer.  If you are interviewing for a business development role with a company known for its culture of altruism and sharing in the collective success, you probably don’t want to lead with an eat what you kill attitude.  Just sayin’.

2)    Stay positive – Clearly, there is a reason why you are exploring greener pastures.  You have to anticipate at least one question about why you are leaving / why you left past positions.  And while it may be personally gratifying to let anyone who asks know the down and dirty – your prospective employer is looking for discretion and professionalism here.  At the end of it all, they don’t want to be the focal point of your negativity down the road.  Point to the need for challenge, no growth potential, commute time or the desire for career security where you can.

3)   Embrace negative – Wait, what??  Doesn’t that fly in the face of the past point?  Negative.  A prospective employer doesn’t think you are perfect – nor should you try to appear perfect.  Nobody is.  When a prospective employer asks you to point to a failure or a negative along the way, they want to see how you handled it and what you learned from it.

4)   Have an elevator pitch – After hours of interviewing and answering questions like “Red or blue?”, there is one question it all comes down to – why should I hire you?  This is your opportunity to sum it all up in 3 – 4 points and hopefully ensure an offer to join the organization.

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