The Howard Group


Interviewing – Tactics

These are thoughts, ideas, and strategies regarding the interviewing process. These concepts work, however, every interview has its own personality. If it doesn't feel right to use an approach, don't force it.

Proactive Interviewing Tactics

Tactic: After pleasantries are exchanged, ask the interviewer to verbally describe what he or she is looking for. Listen carefully. 

Then, by reference to your background fulfill those needs or wants. The phrase "by reference to your background" is important. There have been studies that compared candidates in live interviews and found that those candidates who anchored their responses to past experiences, past accomplishments or mini-stories faired 50% better than those candidates who answered in the hypothetical or in the future tense.So, in other words, take advantage of the percentages and ground your responses to past achievements and past experiences whenever possible.

Commentary: The proactive approach can put you in a strategic advantage.The answers the interviewer gives (plus information you gathered from your research) are the "target" qualities, qualifications, needs and issues the interviewer want or needs resolved. You need to fulfill these targeted qualities, qualifications, and needs by reference of your background and past experiences.

Tactic: Have the interviewer identify any obstacles and known challenges he/she can foresee that could hamper or prevent you from being successful. And again, by reference to your background defeat those perceived obstacles or issues.

Commentary: If executed properly, eliciting then answering these first questions should confirm in the mind of the interviewer that you are qualified.This can be especially true if you can answer the questions by reference to past experiences and successes that address the interviewer’s wants/needs and perceived obstacles and challenges.

Tough Questions

What is a tough question? Simply put, it’s a question you wish the interviewer did not ask or a question you do not have a good answer for. Please refer to the article in this library entitled Interviewing– Tough Questions. In that article you will find a list of tough questions and conceptual answers. Here are a few questions that you should prepare to answer.


Tell me aboutyourself/background.

A great question that allows you to take command of the interview by selling your accomplishments and capabilities. A neat formula to use when answering this question is to identify a professional quality you possess then tell the hiring authority about an accomplishment or mini-story, which exemplifies the quality. Then move to the next quality, etc.You should be able to talk about yourself in this format for at least 3 to 5 minutes.

Commentary: If the interviewer does not ask this question, take the opportunity to weave your prepared response into answers to other questions as appropriate.

Why are you looking?

Briefly describe the circumstances of your last employment. But by no means should you disparage your previous employer.No one wants to hire a complainer. Be honest, but tactful.

Commentary: There is a significant probability that this question, in some form or another, will get asked by the interviewer. The key point is NOT to"bag" on or "trash" your current or former employer, ever.Doing so only places you in a bad light compared to others that are interviewing for this position and will significantly reduce your chances of getting the job.

What are your strengths?

List your top five (5).                                    

What are your weaknesses?

List only one (1) and tell the interviewer how you deal with the weakness.

Commentary: The strengths and weaknesses questions do come up, but with less frequency. They must be prepared for all the same. Notice some psychology n the answers - 5 strengths, 1 weakness with an explanation of how you overcome it.            

What are your goals/objectives?

Provide a response that includes promoting the goals and welfare of the organization.

Commentary: Any response to a goals question should tie in promoting the success and stated goals of the organization. An excellent response a candidate could make would be stating an agreement with the client's mission and value statements plus stating the future professional desires of the candidate.


Prepare Questions in Advance

You must research the company and the interviewer(s) in advance. Prepare questions that address the following three(3) areas, at a minimum:

The position - specifically what are the duties, responsibilities, and expectations of the position?

The company - where has it come from, where is it at today, what are the goals for tomorrow, products and services, special initiatives, and so on.

The interviewer - Statistics indicate that a high percentage (as much as sixty percent) of all hires made on an annual basis is made on the basis of personal chemistry rather than the qualifications of the candidate. Therefore, ask questions as to why the hiring authority likes the company, why he/she stays with the company, and any other appropriate personal/professional questions that can create personal chemistry.

The Money Question

If you are asked about money, here is a response that works well.

"I'm currently earning $                     . But, I'm sure that if you were to extend an offer to me, that offer would be fair in light of my past accomplishments and future potential with “the Company”. And based upon your qualifications and expectations for this position, I can see my talents contributing to the success of the organization in the following ways... (List off ways you can contribute to the organization)."

Commentary: This response will allow you to address the question, then,turn the situation into an opportunity to sell yourself and justify a competitive offer. And, as a general rule, do not bring up compensation on the first interview. However, if the interviewer should ask, it might be a sign of interest.

Finally, do not exaggerate your income. It is not uncommon for an organization to seek income verification.

Ask for Concerns

Towards the end of the interview, ask the interviewer if he/she has any concerns about your professional qualifications as it would relate to you either proceeding in the process, being successful in the position, or getting the job. This question at least gives you an opportunity to address any concerns that may have come up during the interview.

If there is a concern, you have to think on your feet and diplomatically overcome it. If you can't overcome the concern, stress a compensating asset based on your background or achievements.

Commentary: Remember, an interviewer may not disclose the concern(s) he or she may have as a result of the interview, however you have at least provided the interviewer the opportunity to state it.

Close the Interview

If you want this job or want to proceed in the process Ask to do so. In many cases, that is exactly what the interviewer may want to hear.

Write a Thank-you

It is virtually a requirement that you send a thank-you note or email to the interviewer(s).  Do this regardless of whether you introduced to the opportunity through a recruiter. There are three components or paragraphs to a thank-you correspondence:

Paragraph 1 - "Thank you for your time" and any personal comments.

Paragraph 2 - You now know all of the answers….what the interviewer is looking for. Sell yourself and how you can benefit the organization. By the way, statistics show that almost all thank-you notes and emails get read. So, sell yourself!

Paragraph 3 - Close by asking to continue in the process.

"From the first phone call I had with The Howard Group to the very last one, it was nothing but – Professionalism!"

"The time you spent with me to ensure a solid match is the mark of a pro. I now realize that you wanted to make sure this change was good for all parties concerned."