Just today I got feedback from one of my resume clients, who was a bit beat up by her recent telephone interview. Related: 5 Steps To An Excellent Interview “What happened?” I asked. The answer was that the interviewer had pulled a bunch of old school interview classics like “Tell me a little bit about yourself” and “What are your three main weaknesses?” My client felt that this type of “old-school” interviewing did not result in a natural flow of two business professionals determining a potential match, but rather ended in a “what type of canned response have you got for me” type of interview. But what to do in a situation like this? After all you don’t want to be rude, and you can’t really tell the interviewer what type of questions you want to be asked.
Help the interviewerWhat you CAN do is help the interviewer. If an interviewer pulls one the classics mentioned above, you have a pretty strong indication that this person is not an expert or at least not an up-to-date expert on how to actually find the right talent for their company. You see, every hiring manager wants to solve a specific problem by hiring someone new for a job. And how helpful is a question like “describe your three main weaknesses," let’s even assume an honest answer, to determine if the candidate might indeed be capable of solving this problem? Not very helpful at all. And that’s where you step in and help the interviewer.
Here’s how you do itYou will want to avoid seeming rude or making the impression of evading questions. So, you will have to answer one of the interviewer’s questions, and then come back with extending your “helping hand” to turn the interview around. Example (after you finished your answer on your weaknesses):
“Having said that, I would like to make sure that my strengths are beneficial for the position, and that weaknesses may not be in the way for effectively contributing to the bottom line, so I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit more about the challenges your department (division, company etc.) is currently facing, and how you picture this position to solve those challenges?”Now the interviewer can actually tell you about “real-time” and specific job challenges, and you can take that opportunity to focus on these specific problems and outline your thoughts and ideas on how you would approach actual company problems. This way, you will get to showcase what you are actually capable of even with a weak interviewer