Before we dive into the 8 major interview questions and answers. Let’s talk about how to answer them. These are tough questions to answer for fresh graduates and seasoned managers. I use a very specific methodology.

I use this method to answer almost every interview question.

Two types of interview questions:

  1. Behavioral Questions – These are the “Tell me about a time when” questions. Everything else. These are common during the first phone interviews with HR.
  2. Everything else – I like to make things simple 🙂

Let’s dive into how to answer behavioral questions.

Behavioral Questions

Anytime the questions start off with “Can you tell me about a time when?” these are behavioral questions. They are often awkward, but unavoidable. These are typical examples from my experience:

  • Tell me about a time when you didn’t get along with a manager. How did you handle it?
  • Tell me about a time where you failed at something.
  • Tell me about a time when you were in a group that wasn’t performing.

So how do you answer these types of questions?

The biggest piece of advice I can give is to provide a specific example that you encountered. It is the absolute kiss of death if you start to talk about what you would do. Don’t talk about what you would do. Nobody cares. They want to know what you did.

If you find yourself giving a general example, stop yourself and think about other examples.

Pro-tip: have about 4-7 situations prepared in your mind already that you can talk about. Then you can take one these situations and customize it for the interview question.

For behavioral questions, I also follow the STAR method religiously.

It’s called the STAR method for a reason.

Situation or Task – The particular situation that you encountered. Usually, this situation involves some drama or something going wrong.
Action – What you did to remedy the situation. Not your group member. You.
Result – What was the outcome.

Seems simple enough, right?

Here’s an example:

Question: Robbie, can you tell me about a time that a project wasn’t going well? I’d like to hear more about how you handle stressful situations.

Answer: Great question Tom!

<SITUATION>
“I was brought in to manage a project that was severely short staffed and had no clear project deadlines. On top of that, there was a lot of turnover at the client, and this made everything that much harder.

<ACTION>
The first thing I did was make sure I understood the scope of the project. I heard many different versions of what was supposed to be the project, but no one gave me a straight answer. I put together a presentation of my findings, and I presented it to the executive board. The board then gave me insight on what the real scope was.

I then took that information and came up with a new project and resource plan. We were severely understaffed, so I let the board know that we couldn’t complete the scope as intended if we didn’t have the right resources. This was an uphill battle, but in the end, I was able to reduce the scope and get a few more functional resources on the team that we desperately needed.

<RESULT>
The result was we went live with the project on-time with the new plan without any turnover during the last four months of the project. It was a success, and the project team and board were happy with the results.”

 

BOOM. DONE. Notice how I never said, “Tom, this is how I would handle a project that wasn’t going well.” It’s all about the specifics. You need details or else you will be crushed in the interview. It’s obvious if someone is talking from experience or guessing.

P.S. It’s a habit of mine to respond twith “Great question.” It’s an ego boost for the interviewer and serves as a good transition to my answer.

EVERYTHING ELSE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Why they ask this question:

The reason they ask this question is very simple. Are you a motivated individual or not? They want to hire someone who is thinking ahead and are interested in your future career path.

My answer:

“I’m a big believer in being challenged in my work. I’m always looking to advance my career and at the same time, I want to be happy in my career. I see myself being challenged, and I see myself in a great work environment. An environment that pushes me to become a better person and to learn great skills.

I don’t know exactly what title I will have in 5 years. I’m always looking to advance, but the main thing for me is that I’m learning new skills and I’m happy with my career path. I strive to create a good working environment for my colleagues and I hope that others do too!”

 

Why I answer like this:

Notice how I didn’t say things like, “I want to be a manager?” or “be promoted to XYZ position”?

I purposely avoid answering with that because we all know it’s next to impossible to figure out what’s going to happen in 5 years. I don’t know what I’ll have for breakfast tomorrow, let alone what’s going to happen in 5 years.

The other thing is that it can cause an issue. For example, if you say “I want to be a manager, like you,” then the manager could take that as a signal that you want to replace them. It’s far-fetched, but I’ve learned just to stay away from the specifics. You have no idea what the interviewer is thinking, and you don’t want to fall into any traps.

I stick with “advance my career and be happy,” and it has worked wonders for me.

2. What is your biggest weakness?

Why they ask this question:

I’ll give you a million dollars if you could figure this one out for me. I know the intention is to find out why they shouldn’t hire you, but I’m not sure what answers they are expecting from this answer. However, I do have a firm answer for this question.

My Answer:

“Great question. For me, it’s all about focusing on the strengths. I think that’s where the most value comes from. So, let me rephrase your question slightly. I’ll tell you why you shouldn’t hire me. You shouldn’t hire me if you’re looking for someone to just execute sales deals. you shouldn’t hire me if you’re looking for someone to put quotes together. Could I do that? Of course. But I’m also at a point in my career, where that’s not the best of my time or yours.

You would hire me because my strength is building relationships with executives and helping them create a bigger better solution. That’s what I’ve always been good at and that’s why you should hire me. I’ve also been building my network in this industry for the past 3 years, so I have a headstart.

Why I answer like this:

I immediately reframe the question to “this is why you would hire me” and “this is why you shouldn’t hire me” which they will like. Your ability to tell them straight why they shouldn’t hire you shows them that you know your value and what value you can bring.

3. What is your biggest strength?

Why they ask this question:

The interviewer wants to know if your strengths are aligned with the strengths needed for the job. It’s like a cheat question. Instead of asking questions to determine if you’re a fit for the job, they decide to let you determine that for them. Sorry, no more sarcasm for Robbie today.

If you get this question, use your research to tell them exactly what they want to hear. If your strengths don’t fit in perfectly with the job description, you don’t deserve the job.

My Answer:

Ironically, my answer is the same as the biggest weakness question.

“Great question. For me, it’s all about focusing on the strengths. I think that’s where the most value comes from. So, let me rephrase your question slightly. I’ll tell you why you shouldn’t hire me. You shouldn’t hire me if you’re looking for someone to just execute sales deals. You shouldn’t hire me if you’re looking for someone to put quotes together. Could I do that? Of course. But I’m also at a point in my career, where that’s not the best of my time or yours.

You would hire me because my strength is building relationships with executives and helping them create a bigger better solution. That’s what I’ve always been good at, and that’s why you should hire me. I’ve also been building my network in this industry for the past three years, so I have a headstart.

 

Why I answer like this:

The quicker I can tell them I am a fit or not a fit for the job, the faster the process goes.

4. Why did you leave your last job?

I wish “none of your business” was an acceptable answer to this question. However, it is a valid question, and you should have a good answer for it.

Why they ask this question:

There is only one reason why they ask this question. They want to know if you’ll have a similar reason for quitting this job. This is a simple, but effective, due diligence question.

For example, if you say, “I quit my last job because they over-worked me,” their response might be: “Well, just to let you know, we have a “work hard, play hard” type of culture here. Are you sure you can handle that?”

And before you know it, you’re on the defensive. You never want to be on the defensive in an interview.

My answer:

“I left my job for several reasons, but the main reason is that I had a great opportunity to do something different and it was something I couldn’t pass up. I really appreciated everything my last job did for me, and I learned a lot.

It was just time in my career to move on. I still have great relationships from my time at the company, and we catch up for lunch once in awhile. I left amicably and gave a 2 week advance notice. We both agreed that it was a good move for me.”

 

Why I answer like this:

My answers are always positive, and yours should be too.

You know the real reason I left that job?

“I was sold a bag of bad goods. They told me my job would be like X and it turned out to be a complete lie. I was doing a job I hated. I wasn’t learning anything and I did everything in my power to get a new job.”

That’s the real answer, but I’m smart enough not to say that. As soon as you present a negative vibe, your chances of acing the interview are over.

So, I stick with the traditional “I had a really great opportunity, and it was my time to leave,” spiel. It works great and gets them to go to the next question. I also did leave amicably and gave a two weeks notice. I never burn bridges.

5. Do you have any questions for us?

Yes, are you going to hire me, how much will you pay me and when can I start?

That’s how I would like to answer that question. But, again, if you haven’t noticed the theme yet. I stick to the practical, positive answers. Regardless, I always have questions prepared to ask the interviewer.

Why they ask this question:

They ask merely because it’s a formality. However, it is obvious they want you to have some questions. Ask no questions, and you’ll look like an idiot. It’s that simple.

How I answer:

First off, I never wait for this question to be asked before I start asking questions. My #1 goal with any interview is for it to be more like an informal conversation.

So, I ask questions frequently. The better questions you ask, the better off you are.

Here’s an example question I’ll ask:

“First off, thank you so much for this opportunity. I’ve really enjoyed our conversation. One thing that caught my attention was when you mentioned that an average project length for your projects are 3 months. In my experience, many of the projects I’ve worked on, were at least 6 months in length. Even the smaller one’s were still 4 months long.

What makes your projects so much different? The reason I ask is I want to understand your delivery process better, and the types of resources needed for your projects.”

 

Why I answer like this:

I asked because I genuinely want to know the answer. Second off, I’m well aware that I am judged by the quality of my questions. I showed that not only am I listening to what my interviewer is saying, I’m also able to ask intelligent questions about why they do the things they do.

The questions I ask are almost always based on something they say, and will always prove that I know what I’m talking about. It’s why I avoid general questions. I’m going to show that I know my topic inside and out and that I’m able to ask deep questions. If something seems off or different in what they are saying versus my experience, I’ll ask them about it directly.

6. Can you tell me about yourself?

If there is one question you need have an excellent answer to, It’s this one.

This question is not: “Can you read off your resume and tell me about every job you’ve ever had in chronological order?”

To succeed at this question, you need to understand why someone would hire you. The message you give during this answer can make or break the response.

My sarcastic answer:

“Hi, my name is George. I’m unemployed, and I live with my parents.” ~George from Seinfield. Sorry, I had to include that.

How I answer:

The goal with this reply is to start off the answer by giving a clear, concise answer to who you are. If you can’t summarize your entire career in 1 to 2 sentences, it’s not clear enough. I’m not saying your whole answer is 1 to 2 sentences, but the first words out of your mouth better be as clear as possible.

“Great question, John. Over the past 10 years, I’ve had the great pleasure of working for great firms such as Accenture and Deloitte as a technical lead and project manager. My strength has always been being a strong tech lead, but also be able to communicate with business executives at the client. This is an area I’m strong in, and would like to continue to work in”

BOOM. There you go. Ten years summarized in one short paragraph. Trust me, I can go down the rabbit hole and give more details, but I want to plant the message as early as possible.

“I can go over my Resume if you want, but I don’t want to ramble on. Is there anything in particular that you want me to go over in more detail? I’ll be more than happy to spend more time discussing it.”

Notice, how quickly I asked a question to the interviewer? This was intentional because every interviewer is different. I don’t want to waste their time, and I don’t want to talk about something that they don’t want to hear about in the first place.

This is a fantastic way to lead the conversation to be more productive and you’ll also get a better sense for how the interview is going.

 

Common Mistakes:

The most common mistakes is for candidates are to go over everything in chronological order and to make the answer a 10-minute long answer instead of a 1-minute answer. Resist the urge to tell them everything. Trust me; they don’t care.

It can only hurt you.

7. What is your greatest achievement?

They ask this question because they want to understand what you consider to be a great achievement. They need a benchmark. This is not about what they would consider a great success. This question is especially prevalent for managerial or executive positions.

How I answer:

“There are a lot of achievements I’ve had in my career. The one achievement I consider to be the greatest that is most relevant to this job and happens to have had happened recently.

I moved an IT department that was failing in every sense of the word, and made it a more nimble and customer focused organization. I brought on a new team and implemented many of the standards that are used today.

The reason it was a big achievement was because there was a lot of resistance internally about making this happen. This type of project had never been done in the company before, so there were concerns about whether or not I could make it happen.

After the transformation was complete, our IT team was able to fix our downtime issues and respond back to IT support tickets three times as faster as were able to before.

I lead the charge on getting executive approval and I managed the project from start to finish. It was a mentally grueling and time consuming exercise, but we were able to make it happen. The team is in a much better place now.”

 

Why I answer like this:

I followed the STAR method, mentioned in the first part of this article, to the tee. I gave a very specific accurate answer, and I spoke about the results.

I can’t recommend enough to have a very detailed answer ready. We want to hear about your successes.

8. Why do you want to work here?

Because I like money, and the word on the street is you would pay me more of it than others. Is this true?

I don’t really like this question, but it’s a necessary evil. Let’s be real. If you didn’t think the company would pay you more money than you make at your current job, you would never be in the interview in the first place.

Of course, money isn’t everything, but c’mon. It’s enough to get you to move from one company to another.

How I answer this question:

I like to keep the answer as real as possible while still being politically correct.

“Three reasons I want to work here. The first reason is that my good friend highly recommended this company. I don’t take those types of recommendations lightly and I respect his thoughts. That’s #1.

#2 – I did a lot of due diligence. I asked former employees and I looked on the website, social media and news. One thing that is apparent is that this company is focused on growth. I’m at the point in my career where I would like to continue growing my career, and that is only going to happen at a company that also wants to grow and make investments.

#3 – Culture is important to me. The one thing I’ve noticed during these interviews is that many of the people I interview with all have the same positive attitude. I didn’t hear any bad-mouthing or people complaining. I’m always focused on the positive and this was a great thing for me to experience.”

Those are the three big reasons why I would like to join.

 

Why I answer like this:

I like clear and succinct answers. I usually break it down into a small list, up to 3 reasons.

Common mistakes:

Don’t mention money. Even though that is 95% the answer. Don’t mention it. It won’t get you anywhere.

Don’t ramble on. Be succinct.

Make it genuine. Show them that you did the research.

Compliment them! Did you notice how every single one of my points I was complimenting them? Make them blush.

In Conclusion

With proper research, you can answer these questions very powerfully. Spend a significant time coming up with different stories from your career that you can use during the interview.

I would love your feedback on this post. Answer the following questions in the comment section below:

  • What part was your favorite?
  • What part was your least favorite or least helpful?
  • What part was missing or do you want me to expand on?

[Pssst – If you’re looking for specific interview questions & answers, go here]

I was the world’s worst job interviewee. 

You name it; I made the mistake.

  • I called interviewers by the wrong name.
  • I told interviewers that I didn’t appreciate that my paid-for flight had a connection and whomever organized my hotel was not an organized person. (I still cringe thinking about this one. I didn’t get the job, and I can pinpoint it to this exact moment).
  • I name dropped people the interviewers didn’t get along with.
  • I opened up my Dell laptop while I was waiting for my interview at IBM Headquarters (When IBM was in the computer business and direct competitors of Dell).
  • I arrived late to interviews because I went to the wrong office.
  • I screwed myself out of thousands of dollars during salary negotiation because of things I said during my interview. This unfortunately happened multiple times.
  • I had 17 interviews with Google. 17! I kid you not. This was for one job. I messed it up at the end by talking smack about a bad boss. To be fair, the question was “Tell me about your worst manager.” I fell for it, and I’m 99% certain I lost the job because of the way I answered it.
  • I took phone interviews while I was half asleep during the middle of the day. (This was for Google attempt #2.  I still lose sleep over how stupid I was to pick up the phone after I was taking a midday nap, AND THEN PROCEEDED TO TAKE THE INTERVIEW.)

The good news is that I’m alive and I’m here to tell you everything I know about interviewing.

I’m going to teach you how to flip the script and have a competitive advantage before your first interview is even conducted. In flipping the script and learning my new interview skills and techniques, you can significantly improve your odds of getting what you want, and avoid cringe-worthy mistakes that will haunt you.

If it works for me, it can work for you.

Ready?

Change your mindset. Everything you know about interviewing is wrong.

The actual interview doesn’t happen during the interview.

It happens before the interview begins.

Before the first HR phone interview. Before the first on-site interviews. It happens even before you get the first email inviting you to interview.

Read this little quip from the former SVP of People at Google.

“In other words, most interviews are a waste of time because 99.4 percent of the time is spent trying to confirm whatever impression the interviewer formed in the first ten seconds. “Tell me about yourself.” “What is your greatest weakness?” “What is your greatest strength?” Worthless”.

If you’re like me, you’re probably the worst first impression maker of all time.

So, if 99.4% of the time, the interview is a waste of time because they are too busy confirming their bias, what do you?

You make the first impression before you speak to them.

Remember, the five steps from Chapter 1?

Step #1 –  Be the best at what you do.
Step #2 – Tell the world exactly what you’re good at.
Step #3 – Show undeniable proof that you’re the best at what you do.
Step #4 – Bypass the traditional hiring system by building direct relationships with executives.
Step #5 – Become better at what you do, even if you’re already the best.

If you did Steps #1 – 5 correctly, interviewing should be a breeze. How you got the interview is 10 times more important than the interview itself.

Let me lay out a real life example.

I received a random Facebook message from a college friend. Their company was hiring, and she thought I would be a great fit. She introduced me to the SVP of the division. I had one somewhat formal phone interview, and he invited me to attend the once a year company party and also speak with the other people in the division.

I was the only person invited to the party who didn’t work at the company. The people I had interviewed with the day before the company were astonished that I was invited to the company.

“How did you get invited to the company party? You don’t even work here yet? I’m not even sure why I’m interviewing you.”

I still remember when one of my interviewers told this to me. I had the job in the bag BEFORE the formal interviewers even began. All I needed was the SVP to give his blessing, and the rest was downhill. Keep in mind, HR and Recruiting have no idea I even exist. I submitted my resume as a formality after our interviews were complete.

I proceeded to have a blast at the party and meet everyone I would potentially work with.

Now, I’m not telling you this to brag. I’m telling this to you so you understand that you don’t have to follow the traditional hiring system to go through the process. The faster you can get an SVP to endorse you for a job, the better everything comes.

So, how did I get an endorsement from an SVP before formal interviews even began?

I wrote about productivity and project management. My friend, whom I haven’t spoken to in 4 years loved my post and thought I would be a good fit for their growing company. She also had a great relationship with the SVP.

I told her I was happy where I was, but I would be interested in learning more.

The productivity post had over 400,000 views, and that was amazing social proof that I knew what I was doing.

That’s all the SVP needed to hear. Our phone interview was less than 15 minutes before he invited me to the company party.

Social Proof makes every interview a breeze.

I never got asked, “What’s your greatest strength?” You know why? They already knew what my greatest strength was. They already read my articles on productivity and project management. They saw all the comments on the article. They already read my LinkedIn profile which laid out clearly why someone would hire me.

So, when I walked into my first formal on-site interview, it was immediately a conversation. The SVP already told the interviewers that he liked me. The deal was done before I arrived.

What does this mean for you?

This means that you have to work on building social proof and making sure your online presence tells everyone what you’re good at. If the interviewers don’t know anything about you during your first interview, you lost. You made your life that much more challenging.

When you interview or apply for a job, the interviewer gets as much information about you as possible. Your resume, LinkedIn profile, Social Media, and Google.

Let that sink in. Before you even utter a word to a real person, they have already formed a judgment of you. You’re interviewing with real humans after all. This is human nature. Now, use this as an opportunity for to you take advantage of this knowledge.

I know what you’re thinking. But, Robbie, this is why I created a resume! My resume tells the interviewers everything important about me!

A resume is a factual representation of your professional experience. It doesn’t allow links to your other work. It doesn’t actually allow you to craft a story of who you are and what your work represents to you. It doesn’t allow people to endorse you, or respond to your work. It’s not a good story-telling mechanism. You need to tell a great story.

This is the formula to get a competitive edge before the interview starts.

  1. Your LinkedIn profile is updated and tells the reader precisely why someone would hire you. If you need help with LinkedIn, read this ultimate guide to LinkedIn [Not Released Yet].
  2. You have social proof online. You have a few resources that you can link to that makes you look credible. This is more important than you think. The beautiful part about LinkedIn is that you can include these resources on your profile.

Ironically, the above 2 steps are the same for getting the interview in the first place

Before, During and After.

That’s it! You’re all done!

You’re probably thinking:

Robbie, I don’t believe that Google guy who says 99.4% of interview decisions are made within the first 10 seconds. Give me the details of how to nail an interview. Don’t BS me.

Ok, ok. Do you still want to prepare for the .6%? Let’s do it.

STEP 1: How to Prepare for a Job Interview

You prep your food like this, right? It’s the same process for an interview. Except, you don’t have a nice camera and a hipster wood cutting board.

Got an interview? Congratulations. Now, let’s make sure you close the deal.

The next step is to tell your interviewer everything they want to hear, without lying or stretching the truth.

I don’t recommend lying– ever. Lying is not an option. You want to focus on forming what ideas they will take away from meeting you, within those precious first 10 seconds.

The problem with this is figuring out what to tell them. Each interviewer has their own agenda. You might interview with three people in the same department for the position, but all three interviewers have different reasons for interviewing you.

Jane is too busy and she wants to offload some of her workload to you. Ryan needs your help leading a new marketing initiative, similar to what you did at a previous employer. Frank didn’t like the first person who worked there and just wants to make sure you can get along with people in the office.

So if you knew this information beforehand, you would modify your message for each interview.

Jane: You would emphasize your ability to get things done with minimal supervision.
Ryan: You would talk about the results from the last marketing project and the process you undertook to make it a success
Frank: You would emphasize your ability to get along with others, and provide examples of how your friendships have helped the company grow.

There’s just one small problem. How do you get this information before the interview starts?

Ahhh yes, never fear–Robbie is here.

This is my approach.

Research the company

Use social media to get to know everything humanly possible about the company you’re interviewing with. If you know who is going to interview you, that’s bonus points.

Here are some things I do when researching companies:

  1. I look up their company name on LinkedIn to see how many employees they have.
  2. I use LinkedIn to see how many employees at the prospective employer have my job title or a similar title. Am I going to be 1 of 100, or am I going to be the only one with this job title?
  3. I look for recent news on the company. I do this by going to Google News and searching for the company name to see what comes up. Use quotes when searching the company name to make sure only exact results appear.
  4. I look on Twitter to see if they posted any news that doesn’t show up on their site.

Research the interviewer

You won’t always have this information, but if you do, that’s a bonus for you.

To get this information, I usually ask HR or my first contact within the company about who exactly will be interviewing me.

I also use Advanced Search on LinkedIn and search for “HR” or “Product Manager” with the company name as a filter to narrow down who I will be talking too.

chapter2 linkedin

To get more information when speaking with HR, I’ll say something like “Is it possible to get the full name of the person interviewing me tomorrow? This information helps me prepare for the interview and make sure it’s productive for both of us. Thank You!”

Once you get this info, look them up on Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and any other social media platforms. Your goal is to understand more about them so you can customize your answers based on what they want to hear.

Let me repeat this again. The key to a successful interview is telling the interviewer exactly what they want to hear. They are asking you questions, not because they don’t know the answers, but they want to hear your take on them. They already know what a good answer is. The more you know about them, the more you can understand what answers they will like or dislike.

For example, they might have Tweeted or wrote an article on LinkedIn about how they don’t think MBA’s are worth the investment.

So now you know exactly what to stay away from if you have an MBA. You now know not to say things like “Well, I learned this in one of MBA classes at blah blah University.” This information from stalking helps tremendously. So stalk away my friends.

No blackmail.

Just legal, professional, informational gathering stalking!

Use any of your connections to get the inside scoop

Go on LinkedIn and search for anyone that has worked at the company or still works at the company you are applying at.

If you’ve been good a job searcher, you’ve been keeping strong relations with your LinkedIn contacts. Reach out to them and tell them you have an interview coming up and you would love to ask them a few questions.

People are more open to helping you than you think. They’ll also provide more information that can be helpful for when it comes to interviewing.

STEP 2: Make sure the company knows exactly why someone would hire you before they interview you.

Kramer gets fired from his job he technically never worked at.

You know how OJ Simpson got away with murder?

His lawyers told a better story than the prosecutors.

What I’m saying is that your story matters more than you think. Your story matters more than a list of facts, which is basically your resume.

Your goal is to tell the best (and most truthful) story possible.

The goal is to feed as much information to all of the interviewers about you before the interview starts. This is possible even if you don’t know who’s interviewing you.

This is how you do it.

Feed them your LinkedIn Profile before the interview starts.

Remember, your story sells. Facts are important, but the story sells. Telling a story is scientifically proven to activate our brains. If you’re an Android user and can’t fathom for the life of you why everyone loves Apple so much, then that article is for you.

Resumes’ are too hard to tell stories. That’s why I love LinkedIn so much and so should you. LinkedIn profile, your articles, your story and any published articles that you’re mentioned in to establish social proof.

LinkedIn is the center of your online brand. You should do everything in your power to get them to look at your LinkedIn profile, assuming it’s up to date and you followed my comprehensive LinkedIn guide.

If you do this properly, you will find the rest of the interviews to be dramatically easier and more productive.

Work with the person who referred you within the company or HR if they are facilitating the interview.

STEP 3: DURING THE INTERVIEW – FLIP THE SCRIPT

[image source]

OK, you’ve got your story down. You’ve got enough information about the employer and interviewers. Now comes the actual interview.

I’m going to assume you look good, smell good and have extra copies of your resume (that matches your LinkedIn profile, of course) with you.

You have to make another small, but mighty mental change.

They are hiring you for you to teach them something, not the other way around.

I only learned this trick after becoming an independent consultant. The rules are different when you’re an independent consultant. The expectation is clear from the employer. They are not hiring me so they can train me to grow into the role. They are hiring me because they need my help with something specific. If I don’t know exactly how to do it, they aren’t going to hire me.

That’s the change you have to make. You’re approaching this interviewer with a proven track record of you being able to do.

The key to this chapter:

Let’s assume each interview is 30 minutes. I’m going to break it down into 4 sections:

  1. You arrive at the office before the interview officially starts.
  2. First 5 minutes.
  3. 6-16 minutes
  4. 16-30 minutes

The new goal: They talk. You listen. You should know how to handle the basic interview questions, but ideally, you want the interviewer to spend more time telling you about the job than grilling you. 

TIP #1:

Establish credibility with real stories from your career as early as possible in the interview.

I don’t want to be grilled with hard questions for 30 minutes. I want to establish credibility right away, so I can spend the rest of the time grilling them.This is the core of “flipping the script”. Let’s turn the tables on them.

When I establish credibility, I do this by telling very candid and specific stories to how I achieved a goal specific to why they are hiring me. For example. I was interviewing for a project management role. And the question was “Do you feel comfortable managing large projects?”

I nailed the response:

“Great question, Lisa. I’ll tell you a specific story about a project at Deloitte Consulting. I was the lead Project Manager for a global project. It was a 300 person project, and I was the global PM for the project. It was the most complex project imaginable.

The project spanned 7 countries and we had consultants flying in from all over the US. I was tasked with interfacing with 2 functional leads for the client. It was one of the biggest and one of the most important projects for the client as well.

In the end, the project was delivered on time and on budget. Don’t get me wrong, we had our issues and I still have nightmares about it, but we were able to get it done. The biggest thing I learned from managing this project is that with so many moving pieces, you can’t control everything. My main job as a Project Manager, was to make sure different teams were communicating with each other and manage team dependencies. I made sure to over-communicate deadlines and the importance of the deadlines.

I went out of my way to speak to the leads individually at their desk, during lunch and before we wrapped up for the day. Communication was key, and it also gave me the confidence that I can manage large projects, should I be asked to do so again”.

 

BOOM! DONE. Notice how I didn’t just say “Yes. I feel comfortable,” and talk about how I was Project Manager for 8 years. I went straight into the details that I know will not have any follow-up questions. Lisa can’t refute what I said.

Then this is when flip the script happens.

TIP #2:

Don’t ever say “I’m a quick learner”. I go into more detail in this article.

From Chapter 1 of this course, you already know how to answer the dreaded “So tell me about yourself.”
You also know how to prepare by stalking your potential interviewer, and that you should try to anticipate what their stance might be on issues (like that MBA) that can cause unnecessary awkward moments.

You know that you should be doing more listening than talking. This will save you from the impulse blurt of “I’m a quick learner” or “My greatest weakness is caring too much about my job.” Be real, be honest, and use these tools I’ve given you to try and head off these questions before they become a reality.

The more you talk in terms of tangible, evidentiary description about who you are and what it is you can do for their company, the less likely they will be to rely on vague interview questions that haven’t changed in decades. There’s a reason there are so many articles that pop up in response to “What to say to ‘So tell me about yourself’?” It’s a dreadfully posed question, but you don’t have to subject yourself to it. Take my advice and use it to earn a competitive edge in the interview process, avoiding such questions and providing ample time to discuss what you want: salary, schedule, projects, etc.

IN CONCLUSION

You’re screwed before the interview even starts. Do the necessary steps to make sure your online presence is an enabling you to advance. It all starts on LinkedIn.

I would love your feedback on this post. Answer the following questions in the comment section below:

What part was your favorite?
What part was your least favorite or least helpful?
What part was missing or do you want me to expand on?

If you ever find yourself blurting out the words “I’m a quick learner” in an interview, you’ve already lost.

These words are the kiss of death.

Might as well pack up your bags and go home and re-evaluate the interview.

But, Robbie, isn’t being a quick learner a GOOD thing?

Yes, it is. It’s great actually.

Here’s the problem:

Nobody wants to pay you to learn when they can pay someone else who already has the experience.

(more…)

The eye contact. Oh my God, the eye contact.

He stared me down. His face didn’t move. He never blinked. His eyeballs followed my every millimeter of movement. It was perfect.

He was the Michael Jordan of eye contact. If there was an eye contact competition he would win 10 years straight.

He was interviewing me for an entry-level job out of college.

He asked me a stupid, simple question. A question that was directly related to my major and experience. I had spent 4 years waiting for this exact question.

I had an answer prepared. Right before I was about to blurt out my canned answer, I made a huge mistake.

I looked directly into his pupils.

It was the equivalent of looking directly at the solar eclipse without glasses. My brain immediately told me, “Don’t use your perfectly prepared answer. Say something else. Anything else. Just don’t use that answer.”

(more…)

I was sitting in the aisle seat on a plane en route to California for a client project.

The person next to me had to go to the bathroom quite a bit. So this meant that every time he had to go, I had to get out of my seat. It was annoying. The 4th time this happened I gave him this blatantly obvious and rude ‘are you kidding me?’ look.

Right before the flight landed, I opened instructions on how to get the client office. He immediately recognized what I opened and said to me, “Robbie?” I was shocked. I said, “Yes! How do you know my name?” Then he told me something I’ll never forget.

“I’m your manager, pleasure to meet you.”

(more…)