Tricky Interviews

(Part 2 of 2)

The following interviews are really tricky ones. You may not find them very often. But be prepared since you never know. It may happen at your next interview . So, let's look at them now.

4. The Telephone Interview

Sometimes companies love telephone interviews, not because they are an excellent way to catch potential employees off guard, but because they are a convenient tool for screening people quickly and cheaply.

The challenge: To dazzle an employer with your skills, talents and demeanor - sight unseen. Instead of letting a spiffy suit speak for you, you will have to speak for yourself. Plus, you cannot see your interviewer. So you can have no visual clues to go on. The result is that every pause will feel like an eternity, and every distraction - call-waiting beeps, sirens howling, your dog barking - mortifying.

The strategy: Think radio personality. Concentrate on your sound's effects by rehearsing with a tape recorder and get a friend to ask you questions. Yes, this is a nuisance, but you will learn volumes about yourself. During playback, listen to: when you say more than two sentences, do you slide into a mumble or mono tone? Are your pauses longer than two beats? When you are at a loss for words, do you giggle? Are you amazed at the number of "like's" or "maybe"s you use? So you sound harried and hurried? If you talk too fast, try speaking with a pencil clenched between your teeth. This will slow you down. When you remove the pencil, practice maintaining the slower speed.

The pitfall: A telephone interview might not seem as weighty as an in-person meeting because there's no beady-eyed potential boss staring at you. Don't be fooled. People lost jobs because they did not go into interview mode over the telephone. Some people received a call asking "Can you talk?" and they thought they were just going to chat. Then the question came up: "What are your weaknesses?" and they made some wise-crack like, "Oh, I hate it when people ask dumb questions during a real interview - but then this was a real interview. When you get the call, buy some time by saying, "I'm on the other line. Can I call you back in five minutes?" Then, shut off the blender and take a seat.

The winning move: Wrap up the call with "I've really enjoyed talking to you" and add that if s/he's interested, you would be happy to meet with her/him in person.

5. The Video Interview

Like the telephone interview, the video interview amplifies all your verbal tics. But one different thing is that it magnifies all your physical ones - every chair twist, foot jiggle and hair flip. And if that's not bad enough, all of this is recorded on tape to be scrutinized over and over. Occasionally, a company located in another state may ask for a tape, so that the suits can assess you in the comfort of their own office without footing any travel expenses.

The challenge: To deliver a compelling on-camera, one-take-only performance.

The strategy: Think telegenic talk-show quest. You will be warned of the video taping, so do some rehearsing with a friend beforehand. Pinpoint problem areas and come up with specific solution for each.

The pitfall: Over-rehearsing. Compile a list of key phrases, stories, points that you can mix and match during your interrogation.

The winning move: Choose a target. Looking directly at the lens makes most people lose their concentration. So, position your chair to face the interviewer. Look at the person who asks questions. 6. The Fly-in Interview

It is difficult enough to work out the nuts and bolts of an interview in your own city - what to wear, how to get there, how long the drive will be - but it can get down-right mind-boggling when an unfamiliar city is thrown into the equation. How do you dress when the weather is 30 degrees warmer? What day should you arrive there? How will you get from your hotel to the headquarters?

Fly-ins are common with larger companies in small to mid-size cities, in fields where people often relocate or in highly specialized fields. Before you are whisked away, you usually have to pass through an initial screening.

The challenge: You think that they must really like you if they are willing to transport you. But they will not for long if you assume the job is yours because they are paying for your trip and/or treat the whole thing as a fabulous-all-expenses-paid vacation.

The strategy: Think frugal but discerning traveler. At large companies, you can expect that arrangements will be made for you. Your job is to accept their plans. That's all. Occasionally, smaller companies may reimburse you for any costs and expect you to make arrangements. Ask for hotel suggestions. If they give you a list, choose from the middle of the range. As for perks, it is okay to order room-service breakfast because you don't want to show up with a growling stomach - but hold off on drinks from the mini-bar or use a calling card to phone home and do not shoehorn friends in on your dinner tab.

The pitfall: Although you may feel a certain amount of ambivalence about moving to a new city, keep your reservations to yourself.

The winning move: Ask questions about places you have read about on the Web. You can check out for names of restaurants and museums and events in major cities. Otherwise, go to the state's tourism site and praise the host city. As in any interview, preparation is key to making a great impression.

(Pamela Stock - The Six Tricky Interview Traps)

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