The Last Minute Interview

Your breath catches in your throat - at last, an interview! Elated, you write down the time and place of the interview, who to ask for, say thanks, and hang up!

But, wait, it's such short notice, and you haven't been interviewed for ages. Too, you never did get around to practicing. How can you possibly prepare in time to perform well? You hesitate to call them back to reschedule-that might not look good. You feel the anxiety building, even a little panic. What should you do?

Here are three easily remembered tips that will help a lot.

Relax. Remind yourself that you would not be interviewing at all if they didn't like what they saw on your résumé. Review the ad and the response you sent them earlier (you did keep them, didn't you?). Be reasonably sure that you understand what it is they are looking for in the person they hire. But be prepared to ask questions during the interview if the position description seems vague. Your primary goal is to have a clear idea about what it is they need.

Tell them what they want to hear. Your purpose in the interview is to expose and provide personalized solutions to their specific and stated (or implied) needs. Listen carefully, but remember that you have the right and responsibility to ask questions of your own during the interview. Your questions can often be derived directly from questions that they ask you. For example, if you are asked about your abilities in inventory management, you might logically ask them to tell you more specifically about what their current problems are in that area. Once you know the nature of their concerns, then you are in a much better position to help them answer those problems ? and that is what they want to hear!

Follow the Rule of Three. As important as practice is in preparing for an interview, far too many of us overdo it. Trying to be perfect, we end up giving answers that are stilted or overly long. Remember then that your answer needn't be perfect (if such a thing exists at all), only plausible. And to help convey that sense of plausibility, I suggest trying to give your answer in only three parts. For example, you might start by saying, "First, I would ?," and "Then, I would ?," and "Finally, I believe it would be best if ?"

When you follow the Rule of Three, it becomes relatively simple to build answers that sound believable as you go along, are not too long, and are easier for the interviewer to remember.

Obviously, there are many other things to study and internalize if you are to interview well, but in a pinch, just remembering the three suggestions above will help enormously.

Pierre G. Daunic, Ph.D., CCM is a Senior Services Consultant for R.L. Stevens & Associates Inc. (, a career marketing firm and organization celebrating over 24 years of providing strategic marketing solutions for its clients' career transitioning needs. Email inquiries and comments to

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