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Winning at the Interview

We've devoted several columns, including the past three, to networking generally and getting in the door for exciting opportunities. Much of that discussion correctly focuses on helping others, listening and avoiding a self-promotional mindset.

For a formal job interview, you need to switch gears. This is now a competition, pure and simple, and there is no prize for second place. I've placed well over 100 attorneys into inside counsel positions, and along the way, my thoughts on what it takes to win have crystallized.

You accomplish likeability with short answers. Long answers psychologically send the death knell message that you will be needy. They also run the risk of boring your audience. If you get one critical take-away from this column, it's to avoid lawyerly speechmaking. You also become likeable in more superficial ways. Excellent posture, eye contact, a smile, self-assuredness (but not cocky) and even humor (but not sarcasm) will help you win. If this kind of demeanor does not come naturally to you, invest in interview training with a good career coach. I can refer you to one if you wish.

Now, here is the main difference between networking and interviewing. In both situations, you want to ask intelligent questions that demonstrate an interest in the other person and her company. In both cases, you want to listen well and hopefully connect on one or more life experience commonalities. In networking, however, it's all about the other person. But in an interview, it's correct and powerful to say things like, "I know I would excel in this position," and/or "Your opportunity fits ideally with my career goals," and/or "I would welcome this challenge." You get the idea. Be sure to highlight your best examples of relevant experience. Get your competitive juices flowing and persuade the interviewer to choose you.


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Mike Evers

Mike Evers recruits attorneys for corporate legal departments throughout the United States. Please visit His...

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