Ace the interview - no matter what

ace_the_interview.top.jpg Interview by Beth Kowitt


FORTUNE -- Congratulations! You've gotten past the résumé gatekeepers and landed a job interview. But even if you're completely prepped for your one on one, you still don't know what to expect from your interviewer. "You have to turn that around and give them a good interview even if they didn't ask for it," says Bill Byham, co-founder and CEO of Development Dimensions International, a human resources consulting firm.

Byham, whose company works with Fortune 500 mainstays, is famous for developing a job-interviewing strategy called targeted selection. Its goal is to get job candidates to speak in specifics about their past, which helps predict future performance. Here he shows us how you can turn your interview into a focused and successful hour.

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Bill Byham, co-founder and CEO of Development Dimensions International

Know your predecessors

Interviewers hire based on the previous employee's failures in the job. If the last person had deadline issues, you are going to hear all kinds of questions about deadlines. To be prepared, talk to people who work for your potential employer. The more you can find out about those who were in the job before, the more insight you'll have into what's important to the interviewer.

Liars don't get hired

If you make something up, a good interviewer will figure it out right away. If you say, for example, "I produced this ad that got very high ratings," a well-trained questioner will say, "Tell me what exactly you did in making this ad. Who made the decisions along the way?" They'll find out that you didn't come up with the basic idea. Honesty has become very important to our clients, so the interviewer will weigh negatively any suggestion that you're covering up something.

Take advantage of the unprepared

It's easy to get a poor interviewer off track -- because he doesn't have a track. If you go in knowing what you want to emphasize, just a bit of hinting lets you take control. It's great to bring a visual, like your portfolio. If the conversation sputters, just bring it out. Yet be careful: If you do it with a prepared interviewer, you may seem annoying.

Poor interviewers often end by saying, "Do you have anything else to tell me, or is there anything we didn't cover?" Ninety-nine percent of job seekers say, "No, I don't have anything more." But that's a great place to bring something up. If you are prepared, you should say, "We didn't talk about this. Is that important?"  To top of page