EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

Speaking with strangers is never fun. And, if these strangers are deciding whether or not to hire you, it can be a little stressful, especially if you want the job.

There are so many ways to offend and so few ways to ingratiate yourself without appearing overly solicitous.

In the classic “damned if you do and damned if you don’t,” the asking of questions during an interview can be very tricky indeed.

For those of you who watch a lot of lawyer shows, I hope you know the lawyers’ rule: Never ask a question to which you don’t already know the answer. It is a good rule and one that is applicable here.

Questions during an interview need to be upbeat and if at all possible give you an opportunity to “strut your stuff.” If you KNOW they are in the middle of an SAP implementation and this is what you do, ask a few probing questions. If you already know it is a train wreck, you will appear to be magically zeroing in on the problems they need you to solve. Even better if you are speaking with those to whom you may be reporting. This is the opportunity to get THEM talking.

With an inexperienced interviewer, the more talking THEY do, the smarter they seem to think YOU are. Hard to believe, but true. The absence of questions about you is frequently because they ASSUME you know how to do things. Opening up your mouth when it isn’t really required is at times an opportunity to lose a job that could have been yours.

Always do your research on a company before your interview. Check their website, and just about everyone has one these days, and look for bios on people you may be meeting. You will be surprised how much stuff and what stuff is out there. Because folks in the company don’t visit their own website, they often are unaware how you seem to know what you know. Not a bad place to be.

Ask questions that require more than a yes or no answer. Again, your goal is to get your interviewer talking. The more they talk, the more you have opportunities to wrap your MOST important achievements around what they are telling you. As it has been said: “First liar never stands a chance.”

And, if you really want to get the inside poop on a company, check The FENG membership directory and see who has worked there. They don’t need to be working there right now to give you some very real sense of how the place works, what the burning issues were and may continue to be, and who are the “evil doers” at the company. Who knows, it might even be the individual interviewing you. You may get some great tips on how best to handle him or her. As they say, forewarned is forearmed.

Regards, Matt

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