Interview Quiz Part 2: Make a Winning Presentation

Interview Quiz Part 2: Make a Winning Presentation

Taunee Besson, CMF, Senior Columnist

With last week's quiz, we covered some major issues involved in interviewing, trying to debunk a little of the bad advice that plagues job hunters seeking solid information. This week a new quiz looks at interviewing from the company's perspective, in order to help you understand what will make the best possible impression on a potential employer.

As before, decide whether you think the statements are true of false, then read the rationales for the "correct" answers. If the answer makes sense to you, use it. If it doesn't, develop your own course of action. Ready to begin?

Job Interview Quiz
1 Even if the potential employer doesn't ask, it's your responsibility to tell him how your skills and background pertain to the position being discussed. T or F
2 Never accept a job unless you've talked at length with your potential manager. T or F
3 Be completely candid about why you left or plan to leave your last position. T or F
4 Don't convey too much enthusiasm. Play it cool and keep the employer guessing about your intentions. T or F
5 Don't ask your interviewer about his schedule for filling the position. If he wants you to know, he'll tell you. T or F
6 Write a thank you note after every interview. T or F

Ready to see the correct answers? Pencils down, please:

1 = True.

If you read business magazines, you've probably noticed articles about how corporations are trying to "empower" their employees and encourage them to be more "self-directed." If your interviewer hasn't asked how your background and skills match his needs, then it's your responsibility to tell him. He must know this to consider you a serious candidate.

If he is nervous, gently guide him in the direction you want to go. If he monopolizes the conversation, don't leave until you've delivered your personal commercial. Good employees need and want proactive professionals who will take care of themselves.

2 = True.

Your boss can make or break your career. While her boss usually has the final decision on your raises, promotions and transfers, your boss is the person who will recommend and support you (or not). Consequently, you must be sure you and she will make a good team, or you shouldn't accept the position. Most people have worked for the boss from hell at one time or another and have been injured by either her incompetent style or by the disdain other managers have for her. In most cases, her career success or failure will have a direct impact on yours. Pulling away from her circle of influence will be difficult, perhaps impossible, unless you leave the company altogether. On the other hand, if you work for a great boss, you will bask in the light of her reflected glory, and she will be secure enough to let you shine on your own.

3 = True and False.

While it's never smart to lie about why you left your last position, usually picking the least offensive truth is your best option. For instance, if your manager was a real jerk, it's not wise to tell this to a prospective employer who will naturally take his side. Instead, focus on how you want a new opportunity to learn and expand your expertise. If you've been fired, explain what happened quickly and move on. Most employers have had some negative job experiences. They usually sympathize with your position if you don't bludgeon them with it.

4 = False.

Teenagers think it's cool to be aloof. Employers don't. Most people want to be wanted. Your enthusiasm will be refreshing in a world full of negative feedback. If you want the job, ask for it. Real enthusiasm will not be misconstrued as desperation.

5 = False.

Find out the interview schedule if you can. Ask how and when you will be notified if you're still a candidate. If you haven't heard from the interviewer by the designated time, give him a call. Following up keeps you abreast of the process and reinforces your interest in the position. Waiting by the phone makes you a victim of "Don't call us. We'll call you."

6 = True.

Thank you notes sent via mail or email reflect both your knowledge of professional etiquette and put your name in front of the employer in a positive light. Like a good cover letter, they give you the opportunity to confirm in writing:

  • Why you are interested in the position
  • What you have to offer the employer
  • Your desire in getting together for another interview or to discuss accepting an offer.

7 = True.

In our left-brained culture, we often ignore our feelings and rely on rationalized analysis. This is a mistake. If for any reason, specific or intangible, the position doesn't feel right, don't take it. Many job searchers have ignored this advice and suffered the consequences.

Senior Columnist Taunee Besson, CMF, is president of Career
Dimensions, Inc., a consulting firm founded in 1979 that works with
individual and corporate clients in career transition, job search,
executive coaching, talent management and small business issues. She is
an award-winning columnist for and a best-selling
author of the Wall Street Journal's books on resumes and
cover letters. Her articles on a variety of career issues have
appeared on numerous career/job websites and trade and business
journals. Ms. Besson has been quoted numerous times in The Wall Street Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Business Week, Time, Smart Money, and a
number of other websites and publications.

Career Topics
Job Interviews