5 Ways to Take Charge of Your Job Interview

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Many of us come to job interviews, hat in hand, hoping to please our perspective employer so they will hire us. Increasingly, however job candidates are waking up to the idea that the employer has a need as well and that the job interview should be more about finding compatibility between the two parties than about one coming to beg the other for a job. Confident, talented job seekers know that they are in demand and should not be afraid of asking the employer tough questions along the same lines as they are being asked.   They also know the regular interview process may not provide them with the opportunity to get their true talents and abilities across. In order to ensure you are able to voice your talents and find out whether you really want to work for this organization, you must have a plan and take over the interview. This requires some tact and preparation however, so that you come across as confident and sure of your abilities but not conceited or arrogant. There is a risk that despite how well you do this, you may be seen as a threat to the organization.   In this case you need to ask yourself if you really want to work for an organization that would see your abilities and talents as a threat.

Here are some ideas for taking charge of the interview:

Do Your Research Prior to the Interview

Find out as much as you can about the organization before the interview. Organizations like Glassdoor are great sources of information. See if you can find opportunities to speak to former and current employees. The employer will be impressed that you have taken the time to find out about them and you will feel more confident in the interview. It may also being up areas of concern that you may want to ask the interviewer(s) about.

Anticipate Questions and Look for Opportunities to Bring up Your Questions

Don't wait until the end of the interview to ask your questions as by then you will have lost charge and your questions may come across as clumsy or threatening. Look for opportunities that you can slip your questions smoothly into the flow of the interview. For example, when asked about why you left a previous job would be a great time to ask about why the previous person in the position being hired for left. Being asked about what your past employer would say about you could give you an opening to ask what previous employees would say about their organization.   You could also expand this to ask about the turnover rate in the position you applied for and even overall turnover in the organization.   It may not be possible for you to speak to the person who was last in the position but you could ask.   Being asked about your weaknesses would be a good segue for a question you may have about some negative aspects of the organization you may have uncovered.

Have Examples of Your Achievements Prepared in Your Mind

Think of examples of accomplishments in your past job and opportunities to share them during the interview. If you are asked about your strengths, this gives you an excellent opportunity to share some of the excellent work that you have done.   If asked about weaknesses you can segue into asking how the organization supports their employees.

Look for a Problem They are Facing and Suggest How You are the Person to Help

Every organization has a problem or multiple problems that is causing them mass headaches.   When asked about a challenge you have had, you can follow up by asking about their biggest challenge.   If you have done your research you may already know the answer but it helps to hear it from them during the interview. Be prepared by give examples of work you have done that demonstrates how you can help them with this situation and why you are the best person to help them.

Look for Non-verbal Cues and Hesitation

The reaction of the interviewer or interviewing panel to difficult, unanticipated questions will give you cues as to the openness, transparency and work environment. Watch for hesitation, looks of surprise or attempts to divert or avoid directly answering the questions.   For example, let's say the last person before you got fired. It is possible that the last person in your position was a bad apple and there were legitimate reasons for firing him or her.   However, how they handle this question and others will tell you a great deal about the integrity and values of the organization.

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About the author

Harvey Deutschendorf

Harvey Deutschendorf is an emotional intelligence expert, internationally published author and speaker. To take the EI Quiz go to His book THE OTHER KIND OF SMART, Simple Ways to Boost Your Emotional Intelligence for Greater Personal Effectiveness and Success has been published in 4 languages. Harvey writes for FAST COMPANY and has a monthly column with HRPROFESSIONALS MAGAZINE. You can follow him on Twitter @theeiguy