Interview Like a Champion



5 steps to interview successCongratulations, you got an interview with a top company in your industry. What’s the best strategy to ensure that you interview like a champion? This six-step process has helped my coaching clients navigate even the most demanding interview process.


  1. Beyond Research: Due Diligence


I encourage my clients to think of themselves as company stakeholders in their next job. After all, you spend most of your waking hours at work. You are contributing not only your valuable time (a perishable and non-refundable commodity) but also your intellectual capital.  Treat your research accordingly.

Learn as much as you can about the company, management team, financials, culture, competitors and the company’s opportunities and challenges. Is this the kind of place where you can do your best work?


  1. Define the Problem You Are Solving


Go beyond what is written in the job description. The better you understand the problems that will be faced on the job, the better prepared you are to calibrate your interview responses and questions.

What is a day in the life like in this job? What are the top three priorities you would have me address if you decided to hire me?  What would success look like in the first 90 days on this job?


  1. Define Your Scope and Impact


Is your next ideal opportunity a strategic level position? Are you an individual contributor, looking to move up to a front-line supervisor role? Define the level at which you will be most productive and satisfied. Prepare relevant success stories to back that up, so the interviewer has a clear picture of your potential fit within the organization.


  1. Don’t be too salesy

How “The Petrovsky Effect” Could Kill the Interview

Now all I need to do is convince them to hire me!” said Joe. After struggling for months to navigate the company’s Applicant Tracking Software (ATS), and working to make connections inside the company, Joe was excited to have an interview at last.


In my experience, approaching the interview as a sales mission typically creates what I call the Petrovsky Effect*. The Petrovsky Effect looks something like this:

Imagine the hiring manager folding his arms over his chest in a defensive posture, eyes narrowed in suspicion as he thinks, “Oh yeah? You’re going to have to convince me.” His defenses are now up, and anything you say, no matter how cleverly worded, will be met with skepticism and doubt.

How did you feel the last time a salesperson tried to sell you something you didn’t want? If his methods were slick, inauthentic, or pushy, how did you react? It is likely your guard went up, and from that moment on, everything he said rang false in your ears.

Because so many of us have “head trash” about sales people in general, it is difficult at best to overcome this automatic reaction once we take the salesy approach.

  1. Be Authentic

Throw all notions of traditional selling out the window

What if, instead, you could come across as:

  • Completely “non-salesy”
  • Authentic and a great listener
  • Someone who asks common sense, insightful questions
  • A professional who genuinely cares about the right fit for all parties

What Joe needed to do was establish trust, build rapport, and conduct an authentic discovery of the hiring manager’s greatest concerns. He needed to explore the potential culture and technical fit.

In other words, Joe needed to throw all notions of traditional selling out the window. But how? Even if you are concerned (as Joe was) that asking questions might end the interview process, there are steps you can take to master the interview process.


I have developed a simple guide to help you navigate the interview process step-by-step, complete with ideas on what to say in nearly any stage of the interview. The guide presents ideas that are authentic, non-salesy, and have changed the game for so many of my clients at all levels and across industries.