Your second key to a successful interview will be maximizing chemistry and projecting that you are a quality person that is perfect for the job.


Some People Require 10 Situations to Develop a Single Offer

As you go through each interview, you need to approach each situation strategically as it arises. Let's now discuss just how you get things going in your favor — converting interviews into offers at a far higher rate than other executives. As a rule, most people require 10 or more situations to develop a single offer. It may surprise you, but many require more. So, please don't assume that your natural interviewing skills will carry the day. People sometimes forget about the other high-level executives, also with good credentials, who are under consideration.

Certain executives think of interviews as just social conversations—sessions where they sit back and answer questions. These things may happen, but an interview that turns into a good offer involves far more.

Think about this. Last year there were more than 300 million interviews, and no two were the same. So how do you prepare? Think of it like a sports contest—there were millions of them and none were the same. In an interview or in a contest, you can't plan exactly how things will go, but you can have a game plan for coming out at your best.

How to Maximize Chemistry

Achieving personal chemistry with CEOs and chairmen of all different personalities can seem like a daunting tasks, but it is a great way to increase the amount of offers your interviews generate. We also supply a systematized approach for over-coming objections in critical interviewing situations.

The whole idea is to have you make the very most of every interviewing situation—and to come out better than other talented executives who may be under consideration. In the following discussion, we will share with you a series of steps to make sure that you build maximum chemistry with everyone you meet.

How to Maximize Chemistry

1 - Research Each Firm

Did you ever meet a person for the first time who knew a lot about you? It takes you by surprise, doesn't it? It's a great way to make a positive first impression. Many people have built successful businesses that way.

One friend of mine, an attorney, attributes his success to research he does ahead of time. Four out of every five of his clients tell him that he wins their business because he knows a lot more about them than anyone else does.

Make it your business to not only know the firm's website, but also go further to demonstrate that you know even more about the company, the industry and, if possible, the person you will be meeting. This is very easy to do through our private website.

2 - Impress the Front Office

When you arrange or confirm an appointment, be sure to use the opportunity to gather more information. Many people have been able to get job descriptions and brochures ahead of time simply by requesting them over the phone.

Building chemistry with the front office staff can also make a difference. Can you guess what percentage of executives say their secretaries influence them? What do you think? One-third? One- half? Well, about two-thirds of them do.

Not too long ago, I was interrupted by Carol, who stated that Mr. Baxter had arrived for his two o'clock interview. I had forgotten about the appointment, and it was a busy day. I immediately asked, "What do you think of him, Carol?"

She didn't say a word. She just gave a thumbs-down signal. That was the end for poor Baxter. No one ever taught him how important it is to make a positive impression on the front office staff. I told Carol to have him see one of our assistants, and to provide her opinion first. So, please be attentive to the front office staff.

3 - Project the Right Image & Attitude

Building chemistry is also about attitude and image. Psychologists tell us that the way we expect to be treated affects the way we are treated. So, build expectations about every interview. Of course, when we are on the hiring end as employers, many of us reach a negative decision in the first five minutes of an interview.

Why? Well, if you have the credentials, you either establish a good initial impression or you don't. And what determines chemistry?

It is simply this: People silently react to the image you project, your dress, your posture and body language, the things you say about any subject, and the way you answer questions. Make sure you consider the image you project. After all, each of us is continually projecting some kind of image. It isn't just physical or dress either, although your appearance speaks before you say a word. It's also a matter of attitude and enthusiasm, and whether you project integrity.

4 - Pay Sincere Compliments

Do you like receiving compliments? Do you think other people do? You bet they do! So, before the interview, read or talk to people about the firm and uncover some good things to say. In the first few minutes, let the interviewer know that you heard good things.

This will show that you know something about the company. It's also what we call a "third-party compliment," where you are passing on the good news you heard from others.

You can compliment their facilities, people, advertising, or many other things. However, whatever you do, be specific. Don't just say that people you know are impressed by the product. Talk about why they are impressed. All of us like to hear about how our products have pleased customers. By giving details, you show that you have given the subject some thought, and that your compliment is not just empty flattery.

5 - Make Questioning a Strategy

Executive interviews often run between an hour and an hour and a half. Considering that the process involves this amount of time, it will be important that you are not answering questions most of the time. This can put you on the defensive and quickly turn into a stressful interview. Your answers to any question should never run more than a couple of minutes.

Ideally, we would like our clients to be asking questions for 30 minutes of every interview. This enables them to assert some control over the pace and direction of these sessions. It also reduces interviewing pressure.

Now, the way you ask questions and the specific nature of their content will tell a lot about you. For this reason, we want each of our clients to have a questioning strategy developed in advance.

Most importantly, by asking intelligent and insightful questions, you will build your image in the eyes of the interviewer—and you will be building chemistry as well. You want him thinking, "Certainly, John seems very sharp, well informed ... impressive."

You might consider these "offense questions" as opposed to "defense questions" when you are fielding the answers. Most executive job seekers never bother to carefully think about this aspect of interviewing. By not doing so, they make a big mistake.

The questions we will develop for you will depend on the kind of position you are going after (usually we develop 10 or 15 questions which our clients use over and over through all of their interviews).

The main point we need to keep in mind is that they need to be questions which, from the perspective of the interviewer, will get right to the heart of what is going on in the organization. The questions will need to be tailored to your situation, and we can develop and customize them with you.

Some of the Types of Questions You Might Ask

Does the CEO have strongly held convictions about the approach needed to meet your goals in this area?

How important is it to get manufacturing and sales to work more closely together?

If I were to become VP of Research, how much input would you expect on selecting products for accelerated development, and on marketing approaches?

Do you feel you have a strong team in place, or will you expect me to recruit my own team?

It's obvious that you will need to build new capabilities to achieve your goals. Would I be given a free hand in building those capabilities, or would that cause political problems internally?

Is top management unanimous on the need to develop new lines quickly, or are there strong differences of opinion that will need to be taken into consideration?

Assuming for the moment I were in this position, would you see the major thrust as positioning the firm for a public offering ... or a merger?

Given the fact that you are #3 in your major market right now, what are the expectations and timetable for improving your future?

6 - Answering Questions

Keep in mind that the interviewer is really on your side. He wants someone who can do the job, and he wants to find that person in a minimum amount of time. The way you answer questions has more to do with building chemistry than what you say. For example, suppose you get the old standby, the number one question in the world of interviewing: "Tell me about yourself."

Many interviews include a form of that question. You'll want to answer, but chances are you're not sure what they want to hear. You could start out by talking about the kind of person you are and some of your attributes, but that may not be what the interviewer is interested in.

Faced with such a dilemma, a safe way out is to self-qualify your answer: "Certainly, Charles, I'd be happy to tell you about myself, and I'm sure you are interested in my work experience. I'll focus on the past few years and how they relate to your position. I can start with my most recent experience if you like."

When you self-qualify, you give the interviewer opportunity to respond, and to direct the conversation to another area. That way, you can avoid talking for ten minutes about the wrong things. Ideally, when confronted with the "tell me about yourself" question, you should have your own 60_120 second commercial ready.

You will also want to answer questions with good, action-oriented stories. If you fail to tell a story, do you think the conversation will be remembered? Don't count on it. What people remember are good stories.

When you answer questions, remember to gear your comments to potential contributions relative to sales, profits, cost reduction, innovations, etc. When there is a silence, make sure you have prepared some questions in advance about the field, for which you have answers. Create an opportunity to demonstrate knowledge. Being prepared builds confidence and allows you to be more spontaneous. Always maintain eye contact, and establish your sincerity and integrity.

When you encounter difficult questions, one way to handle them is with the "U-turn" technique. Let's say an interviewer says, "You look very impressive on paper, Marge. If you're this good, you ought to be able to solve all of our problems. Tell me, why should we hire you?"

Now, of course, you know the person doesn't believe you're that good! However, if you begin to talk about why they should hire you, you run the real risk of going on about all the wrong things.

With the "U-turn" technique, you don't give an answer. Instead, you turn the question around in a way that acknowledges the status of the interviewer and pays an indirect compliment. A comment might go like this:

"I have a lot of experience I think you could use. But it would be presumptuous of me to tell you what you need before I've shown the courtesy of listening to what you think the priorities are. If you'd be kind enough to share some of your thoughts on them, perhaps I could give a more intelligent answer."

7 - Listen to Find Out What They Want

Find out what happened to the last person in the job. Ask the interviewer about his experiences and those of his superiors. Find out to whom the position reports and how long that person has been in the job. Pinpoint the authority that goes with the job, and find out what they expect you to accomplish in the first six months.

"What would be the biggest challenge I would face?" If the interviewer has some reservations, ask a question that is likely to surface them. Don't forget—you're better off knowing their concerns so that you can deal with them.

Sometimes interviewers will get directly to the point and tell you exactly what they are looking for. That makes it easy. However, throughout these sessions you should put your listening ability to work. One of the easiest ways to impress people is to ask intelligent and penetrating questions about the firm and the position.

And, find out how the interviewer sees the problem, what the expectations are, and what progress has been made. When you do this, you're learning the unwritten requirements of the job.

8 - Tell Firms You Have What They Want

Let's assume that you've asked the right kinds of questions and done enough listening. Now you know what they want. It's time to let them know that you have what they want. Creating this rapport calls for advance preparation.

Now is the time to determine if you want the job, and to keep building chemistry at the same time. One way is to summarize the meeting, pointing out your enthusiasm about the job.

Then, ask a question that will generate feedback: "In your opinion, which of my skills and strengths are closely matched to your needs? How can we pursue our interests further?"

Viewed by Some of Our Clients

"This may sound basic, but having used your service, I am convinced that your help in interviews was the most critical part. When I first engaged you, my whole interest was in having you do my materials and get me connected. But once I got rolling, most of my interviews were with `shirt sleeve' companies in Arizona. Their selection processes were heavy on personal fit, my chemistry with other executives, and attitude. Your service can do a lot of things for clients, but if they take this part for granted, a lot of them might miss the cut."

"What's most important about your service is really a personal matter that depends on everyone's unique talents and situation. However, nothing is ultimately more important than building personal chemistry. It was the key for me and will be the same for those executives I bring in. When you get down to a few candidates, competency is rarely the issue."

"With the resources you put behind clients, success really depends on how well people execute, and how well they communicate. Personal chemistry is what I focused on and that's why I landed on my feet. I think success depends 90 percent on a person's execution and interviewing. Ten percent will be about the competitive specifics of their background."