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Three Quick Tips for Acing an Impromptu Interview

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Agree and Add
“Agree and add” is the first rule of improvisational theater. In the business world, this means your answer to a question such as, “Can you come in this afternoon at three?” is, “Yes, of course.” Not, “I think so. Let me check with my spouse/the babysitter/my trainer.” Having agreed, hang up the phone and figure out the details on your own time. Similarly, if inquiries are made about a skill set that can be acquired via a weekend’s worth of hard work on your part—for example: “Do you know how to run a focus group, embed video in a Power Point presentation, coordinate a marketing newsletter blast?”—your answer should be, “Yes.” After that, cancel your plans and do the research.

Know Your Softball Swing
A “softball question” is one that’s so big you don’t know what to swing at. A great example of this is, “Read any great books lately?” In a job interview, two common softball questions are, “What did you like best about your last job?” or “Why do you want to come work for us?” In these moments, it’s best to go to a specific story—“The thing I liked best about my last job was the camaraderie. For example, one thing my team and I did was …” Or, “I want to come work for you because I’m a longtime fan of your bestselling product/your CEO/your business ethics. I remember when I first used it/met him/read them.” Etc.

Find Their Egg
There’s a story that the decision to have the home-baker add the egg to the Duncan Hines cake mix was made in the marketing department—allowing lazy cooks everywhere to say, “I baked!” Because Duncan Hines allows us to feel we contributed to the success of the cake, when it’s time to buy cake mix again, we buy Duncan Hines. Similarly, you need to find what “egg” your interviewer will be adding to your success. Articulating for them the contribution that only they can make to your achievement means they are far more likely to get invested in your success, as it has become their success.


Photo courtesy of How to Wow

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