Do An Interview or Two before Asking For A Job Interview

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Do An Interview or Two before Asking For A Job Interview

March 19, 2009 Persuasion 4

It’s a changing world, and a changing economy. Some of my coaching and corporate clients tell me it’s a jungle out there.  So many people seeking employment, and so many organizations downsizing their desire to employ.   

Maybe you’ve been laid off, and maybe you moved on because you saw the writing on the wall.  Now, it’s time to find your next place to contribute.  And even though you may feel a chill wind at your back from bills to pay and a family to support, anything worth doing is worth doing well.  And the fact is, any job isn’t necessarily the best job. 

In my last post, I talked about gathering information on the phone in pursuit of getting a job or an engagement. In this post, I’ll be more specific about the kind of information you ought to be interested in.  

When you first call, get the name of the person who answers.  Introduce yourself.  Talk to this person as if he or she is the most important person in your world.  Be pleasant, patient and charming.  Use their name, ask for their help, ask for a few minutes of their time, and then ask for permission to ask a few questions. 

“Hi, who am I speaking with?  Sarah?  Thank you.  I’m Rick, and I’m sure you have a lot going on.  Could I have five minutes of your time?  I could really use your help with something.  Would you mind if I asked you just a few questions?”

If the person declines, say that you understand, and ask if there is a better time to call back.  Promise it will only take a few minutes and say how much it will mean to you.  If the person sounds rushed, ask for the department most closely related to the job you seek.  Once you have someone on the line who expresses an interest in helping you, then ask your questions.  

Find out:

1.  How long have you been with the company?

2.  How has the company changed since you came to work there?

2.  What do they look for in an employee?

3.  What are the big challenges facing the company or organization? Biggest problem?  

4.  Who do they recommend that you talk with about helping solve that problem?

That last question is important.  “Who do you recommend…” tells the person that they are somebody special and in a position to make a difference.  Once you have another name, thank the person for their time and generosity, and say goodbye.  But let that person hang up first.  You don’t want the last sound they associate with you to be the sound of you leaving.  

Think about what you’ve learned, and how you might put that information to use.  How can you help that organization to meet their challenge, or present yourself as the kind of person they look for?  

Once you’ve integrated what you learned, call back and ask for an appointment with the person whose name you were given.  But if at all possible, and here’s the key, make it a face-to-face appointment rather than a phone appointment.  The persuasive opportunity is greater for you in person than over the phone.  It’s harder to say no, it’s easier to read reaction, and it’s more obvious when you need to change something up.   Remember that the phone is a staging area, a place to get ready.

Sound like talking with you is what that person is supposed to do!   If asked the reason, instead of saying you are looking for work, say you understand they are dealing with a problem or faced with a particular challenge, and you are calling to offer your help.

“Hi, I’d like to schedule a meeting with SOANDSO. When is the best time for that?”  

“May I ask what this regards?”

“Yes.  I understand that Acme Inc. is dealing with a problem with suppliers.  When is SOANDSO available, please?”

You don’t need to tell the person that you’re interested in a job.  Instead, tell them you’re interested in solving their problem(s).  And if at first you don’t get through, don’t give up.  As the I Ching says, ‘Persistence furthers.’  Try on a different day, at a different time, until you reach someone else who may be more inclined to help you get where you want to go. 

I’d love to hear about your experiences.  Questions, comments welcome.  Have a great weekend.  The information in this blog is something I can do for you.  If you think about it, and like my blog, here’s what you can do for me.  You can buy me a beer!  (The link is on the home page!) 

Be well,



4 Responses

  1. J.D. Meier says:

    I like your prescriptive path for finding relevant problems.

    I think it’s a great way to figure out what’s valued. While it would be great to think everybody is up for opportunity, most businesses are more responsive to their current pain … so pains is the opportunity.

    Nothing beats a proactive problem solver where the supply meets the demand.

    • @J.D. Meier,
      Yes, it would be great. Ah well. Human obsession with present and past blinds us to so much opportunity. But then, we are designed this way. Pain gets attention. Pain is undesirable. Pain gets people moving when nothing else will.
      Thanks J.D., I always appreciate your comments! (that’s not hyperbole, either!)


  2. Interview Tips

    *Don’t come to the interview drunk and then proceed to pass out

    *Don’t bring your mom, children or pets

    *Tell your interviewer how you love to sing opera, then bust out signing acapella

    *Don’t tell any racist jokes

    *Do not submit an “Impossible is Nothing” type video resume (if you don’t know what we are talking about please Google it…it is quite entertaining)

    • @Funny Interview Video Contest,
      well, good luck with the contest. Meanwhile, here are a few more don’ts.
      *Don’t forget to bathe
      *Don’t talk so much about why YOU need the job
      *Don’t forget basic civility…you know, hello, thank you, much appreciated
      *Don’t forget that nature hates a vaccum, and that if all you know is what you ‘Don’t’ want to do, you’ll probably do it.


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