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Talent Talk: Don’t Think of It as a Job Interview — It’s an Audition

These tips will help you to ace the audition, and get the job.

Writing a resume seems to get a little more complicated with each passing year. Just remember that a resume serves one purpose — to get you an interview. The hiring manager likely will decide whether or not to interview you based almost entirely on reading your resume, so it is imperative you show off your accomplishments and skills. We covered that in more detail a couple of months ago. So, you have an interview scheduled — what do you need to know?

Many of us think of an interview as a series of questions and answers, but the interview is not a fact-finding mission. How about this: Let’s quit calling it an interview and start calling it something that is closer to reality — an audition. Here are the best tips I know for acing an audition.

The first tip is something you do before the audition, but you will use it throughout — prepare. Oprah Winfrey said, “I believe luck is preparation meeting opportunity. If you hadn’t been prepared when the opportunity came along, you wouldn’t have been lucky.” Research the company, starting with its website. Read every news article from the past year: Know its markets, who its customers are, where it makes its money, what new products it has, its competitors, and so on. This will help you understand the context of specific questions, and reference what you have learned when you answer questions, which will impress the interviewers.

But do not stop there. Research the specific opportunity you are auditioning for and the people you will be auditioning in front of. No matter how great your personality, education, skills, and experience, if the hiring manager and his or her boss do not think you are the right fit for the position, you will not get hired. Put yourself in their position and plan how you will show them the fit between what they are looking for and your qualifications.

Here is my most secret tip, the one that people thank me for repeatedly. It is born of two basic principles: Long-term memory does not work well under pressure, and you cannot possibly prepare for every interview question you will get. Have you ever been asked a question where you did not give a good answer, only to think of what you should have said an hour later?

The solution is to write down three to five (or six to seven, if you have had a longer career) success stories involving such things as projects or teams you have led or been part of. It is okay to take this with you to the audition. If you are ever initially stumped for a response, by referring to this list you will be able to answer virtually any question. I have had candidates tell me afterwards that this worked so well they almost felt like they were cheating.

Lastly, be prepared to finish strong and close the company to a decision on whether you are right for the position and what the next steps may be. About 95% of candidates tell me after an interview that they thought it went well. What I want to know is, how did it conclude? If at the end of two hours, the interviewer stands up and says, “Thank you for your time,” most likely that means it did not go well.

Before you leave, you should understand the process and timetable for bringing you on board. But you also want to know if you are the girl or guy, don’t you? Ask this of everyone you talk to during the process: “Do you have any questions about my ability to succeed in this position?” If there is a big negative, and it is real, then it's better to know right away instead of leaving and thinking all is well. Also, if it is not real, you can correct the misinformation on the spot.

About the author

Paul Sturgeon is CEO of KLA Industries, a national search firm specializing in plastics, packaging, and polymer technology. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, a company that is growing, or other ideas for this blog, e-mail Sturgeon at paul@klaindustries.com.

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