Interview Technique - Part Two
Once you're well rehearsed on what you're going to say in an interview, you can focus on your interaction with an interviewer. Body language is a key feedback mechanism, and will help you change the pitch and tempo of your interaction. Sales people and managers with a sales background learn naturally to read the other person and are often the best performers in interviews.
There are a number of cues to pick up on when doing an interview. Firstly, scrutinize your interviewer. Do they look tired or energetic? Is it morning or early evening? If they're tired, be sure to keep your answers short and to the point. If you are losing them - watch their shoulders and hands (are they fidgeting?) - then try to get them to do some talking, by explaining some aspect of their company. Most people like to talk about their work or parts of it that they know well, and it will re-energize them to do so. The key point is to not let the person's attention wander - this is a sure way to have them forget you when it comes to selecting a candidate.
From the above comment, you can gather that you should try your best to get interviews in the morning, even though most people want to interview after they finish up work at their current job. Even though you want to do the right thing with your current employer, if you're serious about getting a decent new job, you should make an effort to do your interviews during the daytime. This is usually possible for first-round interviews in particular, since you'll be meeting with the HR team. They are the first line of gatekeepers and are there to screen incoming candidates. For these people, just make sure that you project an image of being energetic but normal.
After you get past the HR team, usually you will meet the business manager. This is the person you really want to impress because it is from their budget that your salary will be drawn. Try to find out how much commercial pressure his/her team is under and this will give you a guide as to how urgently they need someone. If they are desperate - and often growing teams will hire at the last minute because the manager is too busy to look after non-client related issues such as hiring, then in your interview try to emphasize how quickly you can make a contribution. A dead giveaway as to how busy a business manager is, is if the HR contact person has to reschedule you several times for the interview.
Business managers always want to know what you can do to help them. Your statements should be confident and optimistic, and relate to your achievements elsewhere. If the manager if foreign, you can probably start asking him/her questions about how they do things and get them to outline what they are looking for. In some extreme cases, where they like talking, they may even do the interview for you! Generally, though, if the business manager is Japanese, then they are going to want to hear that you have a detailed understanding of the market and know all the players and have a decent personal network of potential clients. They typically like people who have spent a lot of time developing relationships and understand the industry well - so, do your homework.
If you make it past the business manger, remember that you are not home-and-free. Almost every company, and especially those with a strong Japanese culture, will want you to do several more interviews with other members of the team that you’ll be joining. These interviews are sometimes the most tricky, because you won’t know whether the person/people you're meeting are threatened with your joining the firm or not. Therefore, if you can, try to ask the Business manager who you will be meeting, and whether there is any particular point of interest for that person or group of people. Ask if stressing team work or individual achievement is important (although if all the team members are Japanese - the answer is already obvious). If you're lucky, the manager will understand the unspoken question and tell you how to interact with the person/group. And if they do this, then at least you will know that they like you!