After many of my own interviews and even more interviewing of prospective employees, I have come up with a simple strategy for your interviewing process:

Step 1:  Have a 60-second commercial ready.  Prepare your commercial ahead of time.  Have two outstanding short stories to represent something you did to improve your previous job i.e. make money, save money, create a new system etc. Practice in front of a mirror or with a friend.  Make sure to have the accomplishments match the new job description criteria.  Use these stories to respond to the prospective employer’s question:  Tell me about yourself.”

“I am a diligent and organized worker.  I am loyal and be counted on to do what I say I will do in a timely fashion.  (The statements here should be about your strengths).  When I worked at Job XXXX, I developed XXXX and at Job XX I created a new system for XXXX, which increased production – or saved the company money or – helped get a product on the market.”

Step 2:  If the prospective employer asks you more questions about your previous employment, you can tell them that you have many skills and experiences that may match their criteria, that you would like to know what is most important to them so that you can be succinct and relevant.  While they are talking about things that are most important to them, make mental notes or even take down short notes in a notebook.

Step 3:  When there is a natural end to their conversation, tell them what you have done that is Important to them.  (Tell them stories about things you’ve done that match what they said they want.)

Step 4: Questions can give you many clues regarding what the position is really like. Seven questions to ask at the end of an interview:

What do you like most about working for this company?

How has this position evolved?

Can you give me some examples of how I would collaborate with my manager?

What are my first priorities for this position?

What are the challenges of this position?

What have past employees done in this role?

Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications?

Step 5:  The last question is:  “Give what you’ve heard from during out time here together, do you have enough information to make a decision to hire me now?  This is important:  If they say “No”, find out why.  Once you have their objections you can go back into your experience to match what they are looking for.  If you do not have an experience that matches what they are looking for, you can say, “I would like to apply the 80/20 rule:  I believe I have 80% of the experience you are looking for and I would like 20% to be a new challenge.”

Step 6:  Take control of the follow-up.  You can tell them that you are working and busy looking for a new job so that it would probably work better if you called them back to follow-up. Ask them if next Tuesday or Wednesday would work better to follow-up on the status. At the very least, you will find out what their timing is or how far out the position will be filled.  Build trust by doing what you say you will do when you say you will do it.

Good luck with your interviewing process!!

Some additional questions, perhaps on a second interview,  can be: Does the company promote from within? What would be the next position if a promotion were granted? How are employees rewarded for productive behavior?