Interviewing with Power: Strategies for Changing the Job Interview Paradigm

Jodie Charlop

by Jodie Charlop 82Ox 85C
Executive Career Coach, EAA
May 2013

Conventional interviewing wisdom says we’re supposed to promote ourselves when talking to potential employers, right? But could you be so focused on your own agenda that you actually make yourself less competitive? Yes!  While perhaps counterintuitive, if we get caught up in the “sell, sell, sell,” we often fail to listen to the interviewer’s needs or ask important questions that will allow us to determine how to guide the interview to a winning outcome!

It’s easy to let our emotions get the best of us in a job interview. Why? Because we’re being placed in the uncomfortable position of having to talk about ourselves and demonstrate our worth – in essence, our value is being evaluated. If we’re between jobs, re-entering the workforce, or were recently let go by an employer, the spotlight can feel even more intense because we feel we have even more to prove. When emotions take hold, we may talk too much or too little and may miss the mark in truly connecting with the interviewer.

Interviewing with power is about being an engaged participant and about relationship building.  It requires emotional readiness – getting to the place where you feel confident and in control. It means talking less about what you have to offer in terms of technical skills and experience (i.e., facts you’ve already listed on your resume) and instead, offering the interviewer a clear picture of the value you can bring to the role and the organization.   It requires you to ask questions and listen more so you can “hear” what the hiring manager needs and can begin to apply your knowledge in a relevant way during the conversation – and not only demonstrate that you can do the job, but that you would be a relational asset to the team.

Following are a few thoughts to help you evolve into a power interviewer:

Handling tough issues

Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable also will enable you to be a power interviewer. We all have things in our work history we’d rather not discuss with a potential employer – a layoff, a demotion, a dismissal, a personal matter that required us to leave the workforce temporarily. But the tough issues are part of your personal story, too, so, don’t try to conceal them.

Ask yourself where you feel most vulnerable in your history or story and practice strong answers to those questions.  You will feel more comfortable knowing how to address the tough issues head-on and authentically.  You will also feel more confident guiding the discussion back to aspects of your story you want to highlight. This is where preparation and practice also come into play; at all times, you should have in your interview “toolkit” a handful of strong career stories that demonstrate how you’ve created value for a previous employer, and how you likely would do the same for another organization, if hired.

Exit with power

In many ways, the interview is a higher form of professional networking, so take care to make a good impression when the interview is complete. Ask about next steps, follow up with a thank-you email, and then touch base in a few weeks to find out what’s happening with the hiring process. And if you don’t land the job, still make the point to let all of the interviewers know you really enjoyed meeting them and that you’d like to continue growing the relationship. They could become the connections that help you find your next position.

To learn more, view the Interviewing with Power Coach Chat webinar.

Take advantage of a complimentary career coaching session with Jodie Charlop 82Ox 85C.

EAA’s Executive Career Coach, Jodie Charlop is founder and chief coaching officer for
Potential Matters, and specializes in working with individuals and organizations that want to achieve higher levels of personal and professional results in their business, careers, or lives.