Job Strategies: Be a standout at Interview Time Through Taking The Right Initiative

by Daniel Batten on June 17, 2009

A lot of what I teach is about you speaking while others listen. People sometimes ask “What about when it is a dialog such as a job interview, when you are to an extent at the mercy of the question someone is asking such as a job interview?” Firstly, I teach that all communication is dialog – its just that in some dialogs, the responses to the speaker can’t be heard and therefore need to be anticipated . But the moment you forget it’s still dialog, you lose your connection with them. Second, the same principles apply with a couple of subtle tweaks. The main major primordial fundamental rule with dialogs such as a job interview- did I mention this is the most important rule? – is : do not rely on the interviewer’s expertise as an interviewer asked the right questions at the right time.

So what do you do? The answer is that you need to take charge of the direction of the conversation. Rather than assuming that they will ask the right questions in the right order. Normally they would not and the one who suffers from their lack of order will be you. So how might you get around this at a job interview where the people interviewing you lack interview skills, and as a result fail to reassure themselves about the most important attributes about you (what you really are like to work with) right at the outset. Well, you could say something to them like this-

“Sitting here interviewing me, I imagine you must have many questions your mind, but underlying that question, I imagine what you really want to achieve is not just a knowing that I answered the questions well, but with a feeling that I am someone who you can work with, happily, successfully, and without having to repeat this process for a long time. With your permission I would like to speak to that now, by referring to some of my references who’ve had a long-standing engagement with me.”

The people interviewing you will not mind that you have taken the initiative; because chances are, that was one of their requirements of the job in any case.

And your response has not only set the scene for you to guide the interview process, it has not only shown empathy, it has not only got them imagining you working successfully harmoniously and happily in their organisation, but it has shown them, rather than to told them that you have initiative. Do you think this is more powerful than listing on a CV as one of your bullet points “initiative-taking”? The “CV bullet point: initiative” approach has all the impact of a standup comic saying “I’m a very funny guy”. This is the principle of all story: “show, don’t tell”. You see the battle happen before you, you don’t hear it being described afterwards.

If you cannot be interesting with them, you cannot be anything to them. The best way to be interesting to them is to show them, not tell, your qualities. Telling them qualities can be faked, showing them qualities cannot be, because in showing anything to anyone – you become the person you are showing them. This is why for example in the audio CD series I don’t tell you “use lots of pauses” – but I show you the process of doing this where it happens naturally.

PS: yes, I’ve used this technique and yes it works. It’s about becomming the person who people will want to employ.

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