Various Interview Formats Demand Specialized Preparation

For many years the idea of hiring an executive without an in-person interview was seen as out of the ordinary but there are now instances that either the final decision or determining  semi-finalists is now occurring without sitting across the table from each other.  Initial telephone interviews have always been the accepted procedure to cull down the applicant list to a more reasonable number but because of technology and because every hiring entity wanting to save travel costs we are now seeing less interpersonal interaction between candidate and selection committee.

I have heard of associations who are now using web-based technology such as Skype to interview candidates which ultimately keeps the cost of the executive search at a more reasonable level.  With practically every laptop having a camera  (even the new iPad has 2 cameras built-in), it is becoming more acceptable for interviews to be from a remote setting.

Of course the question arises about how to prepare for and how to perform in such a venue.  With telephone interviews you need not worry about your appearance or your non-verbal cues.  Of course without seeing your interviewers you also cannot play off of their non-verbal reactions.  You aren’t able to view their facial expressions when you are replying to a question.  Without the non-verbal cues you may be way off base and not even know it unless the interviewer verbalizes his/her discontent.

An in-person interview provides you the luxury of seeing all the members of the search committee.  You can see how they interact with each other and you certainly can visualize their reactions to your responses.  Making eye contact with each member of the committee is vital in such a format and can be a winner for you if done properly.  Gestures and using your eyes and hands to emphasize a point can truly make a difference when you are a part of an in-person interview.

Though clothes do not make the man, an in-person interview does give the opportunity for the selection committee to assess how a candidate presents himself/herself.  Depending on what image the association is desiring, it is important to see how the candidate can handle himself/herself and how they dress for success.

Many candidates do prefer at least an initial phone call interview because they feel more comfortable and more at ease on the phone rather than a one-on-one in-person interaction.  Candidates use cell phones to such a great degree in today’s business setting that an interview with a potential employer via phone can be no different than any other call.

Do remember that you still need to impress the employer about the uniqueness of your “brand” and that you always want to close or you may not ever get the possibility of talking to the interviewer in person.  A little anxiety goes a long way in keeping you on your toes for the best result in the interview.

The new technology of using Skype or the higher-priced Cisco system presents new issues to the interaction.  Telephones are easy and the lines rarely fail you.  With new technology, especially Skype where you are using your home-based broadband, the possibility of fading and in and out picturing can be a stumbling block to a successful interview.  You have seen such conversations on news programs where the picture or the sound is not optimal – it can provide another opportunity for more stress for the candidate and the end-product not being what you desire it to be.

A computer-based visual interview in HD is a good substitute for an in-person interaction but it unfortunately isn’t the same as actually being in the same room – rubbing elbows with your potential employers.  Make sure you keep an eye on the monitor to see how you look to the viewers and again be more concerned about what you are presenting and how you are presenting your capabilities than fretting about the technology.

If you are scheduled for an interview on Skype or any similar format, it is recommend that you rehearse the technology.  Call up a friend and just practice.  You will eventually be more comfortable and get used being before a camera on your laptop.

The ultimate response to any interview format is to make sure you are prepared.  If you can’t sell yourself, the product you know best in this world, it is doubtful that you will be able to sell anything.  Make sure your selling points (the benefits you can provide to the new employer) are rehearsed and succinct.  Rehearse your personal elevator speech and above all make sure your talents meet the needs of the employer.

You have worked hard to get this interview, make sure you take advantage of the opportunity and position yourself as the best candidate for the job.  It is amazing how good and how comfortable you can be with a little preparation.  Good Luck!

Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his distinguished career.  He is one of only 230 Association Executives worldwide who has been granted the prestigious designation of Fellow by the American Society of Association Executives.  He currently is between positions and has written more than 50,000 words or 90 blog postings on the topics of job search and career transition.  He can be contacted at:

Copyright:  MMXI.  Reprint of this article is permitted if the above paragraph is included.


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