What You Must Say in the Job Interview to Earn the Offer, with Mark Babbitt

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Transcript

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. I’m Mac Prichard, your host and publisher of Mac’s List. I’m joined by my co-hosts, Ben Forstag, Becky Thomas, and Jessica Black from the Mac’s List team.

This week we’re talking about what you must say in a job interview to earn the offer.

“Most candidates in a job interview make a fundamental error”, says this week’s guest expert Mark Babbitt. They focus only on answering an employer’s questions. Mark says successful applicants take a different approach. He and I talk about that and other interview strategies that lead to job offers later in the show.

Too many people say yes to the first salary figure that comes with a job offer. And that’s a problem. When we don’t make a counter proposal, we risk losing tens of thousands of dollars in salary over a career. To help you avoid that error, Ben has found a list of common myths about salary negotiation. He tells us more later in the show.

You left your home state for an exciting opportunity in another city hundreds of miles away. Now, you’re ready to go home again. What are the best ways to look for a new job from a long distance? That’s our question of the week. It comes from listener Kate Hendricks in Alexandria, Virginia. Becky shares her advice later in the show.

As always, let’s check in with the Mac’s List team.

Our topic this week is what you must say in a job interview to get a job offer. To earn it. I’d love to hear from you all, what strategies you’ve either used or found helpful, or seen others use when you’ve been part of hiring processes to get an offer after a job interview? Anybody want to lean forward? Becky, you’re leaning into the mic.

Becky Thomas:

Hey, I guess I have a more general sort of strategy. That is, be prepared to do the job in the interview. I think that if you can get a two way conversation going in the interview, where you are offering solutions to some of the problems that they’ve got going on, and you can tie some of your skills and experiences to the needs that they have in that interview, that’s going to lead you to a place where the hiring manager’s thinking, ‘Oh my gosh this person is ready to make an impact on day one.” In my experience, that’s always been a good way to go.

That said, that takes a lot of preparation before the interview. You have to come prepared with some ideas, and you have to have done your research to figure out what the employer needs. You’ve got to know where your interviewer’s at, what job they have, and what needs they may have that you can be prepared for that. To make an impact in the interview, and really start that job and get a two way conversation going. So that’s my advice.

Mac Prichard:

I like that strategy a lot. Because you’ve got a goal and a way to prepare, but also you’re not using the interview as part of the discovery process. It’s hard to take a candidate seriously when you’re in a hiring process, when they ask you very basic questions about the job or the company that they could have learned just by looking at the website.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, that’s the key. If your interviewee is asking questions about the company, rather than, as the interviewee, you are prepared to ask a specific question about their needs and start to find a solution in that conversation. That’s going to put you so far above the competition.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, I agree. Everything that you said was exactly what I was going to say, in probably different phrasing, I guess. But going in demonstrating that you understand the job, you know the employer’s needs, and that you’re the best candidate for the job, is huge.

I would say that if we’re talking about after the interview, thank you notes go a long way, it’s really huge. But again, you have to nail it in the actual interview, and show that you know, again I’m going to reiterate it, you know the job, you know the employer’s needs, and you know why you’re the best candidate and you can demonstrate that. That’s what I would say.

Ben Forstag:

I would add a very high risk, high reward strategy here. I think this does work a lot of the time, but it can also backfire. Which is, as you’re talking about the job, talk about it as if you already have it. Or as if you’re going to get the offer. “So when I start working for you, blah blah blah blah blah.”  I think in some cases it might rub the interviewer the wrong way that you’re being a little bit…

Jessica Black:

Arrogant.

Ben Forstag:

Ehhhhh, arrogant.

Mac Prichard:

Presumptive.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah, presumptive. But I think it also plants an interesting psychological seed out there, that “I’m already working for you, I’ve got the job, all you have to do is say yes.”

Jessica Black:

Yeah, and in a more approachable way, if that feels too aggressive, for some people, because that wouldn’t be my style. But I would do more of a, “Hypothetically, if I was in this role, I would…” Or things like that which does the same sort of psychological trick, but is a little more approachable, where it’s like, “No, I’m not just presuming that I already have the job, but I want to demonstrate that I understand this role, and I want to jump in and I’m excited about this, and I’ve thought about it a lot.”

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, I agree with you Jessica. I think there’s a professional way to be humble, but also show that you’re interested in the job. Like you, I use a phrase, “If I were fortunate enough to get this position..” and that demonstrates both humility…and you do have to be, to your point, be careful that you don’t come across as arrogant.

Jessica Black:

Again, it comes back to interviewing the interviewer. So if you’re having a great conversation and you feel that that’s appropriate for that conversation, go for it. But if it’s someone who maybe is not going to…that’s not going to rub the right way for that person, then definitely read the person.

Ben Forstag:

I’d echo that point. Because everyone’s been in interviews where you feel like this is a done deal.

Jessica Black:

Right.

Ben Forstag:

Right, and maybe that’s when you try to finalize the deal by putting yourself in the position literally. Whereas, we’ve also all been in interviews where, you don’t know where this is going so you don’t want to push your luck with those kind of ‘eh’ interviews.

Jessica Black:

Yeah. I would also say at the end of the interview, reiterating your excitement about the job, and your enthusiasm of saying, “I really look forward to hearing from you. I am still very interested and I would love to talk to you further.” Or “I’m looking forward to having a further conversation about next steps.” However you would phrase that. But leaving the interview and letting them know, “I really want this job, and I’m excited about this.”

Mac Prichard:

Good, well thank you all. I know that we’re going to hear some great tips from our guest this week too, about how to conduct ourselves in an interview. To his point, you really do have to work to get that offer. It goes back to Becky’s point about preparation. So I’m excited about that conversation.

But first, let’s turn to you, Ben, because you’re out there every week exploring the internet, looking for tools and resources our listeners can use. What have you uncovered this week?

Ben Forstag:

So this week I want to talk about an article I found on one of my favorite sites, which is HBR.org. The Harvard Business Review.

Mac Prichard:

You’ve cited them a number of times.

Ben Forstag:

I have. It’s one of my go to resources, that I just like reading through each week.

Jessica Black:

Me too, they have great resources.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah, they do. It’s like a good mix of news, and research. I don’t consider myself someone who dives too deeply into business research, but it’s good stuff.

So this article is called Ten Myths About Negotiating For Salary. It’s by Linda Babcock and Julia Bear, who are researchers at Carnegie Melon and SUNY Stony Brook, respectively.

These two women have spent decades researching and teaching all about business negotiation. From that research and teaching, they’ve come up with these 10 myths about salary negotiation.

Now… this article should probably titled: “YOU HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE FOR NOT NEGOTIATING”, because many of the myths they bust all have to do with common reasons people choose not to negotiate their salary.

So things like, you know, “I can’t negotiate because this is my first job”, or, “The economy’s really bad”, or “I don’t have another offer on the table.” All these reasons why people say, “Oh I’m not going to ask for more money.

But Babcock and Bear are pretty clear on this point… which is that everyone can and should negotiate, in just about every situation. Their research is consistent that negotiating is an expected part of the hiring process. That it doesn’t reflect badly on you as a job seeker, and most importantly, for everyone listening to the show, it actually works.

Mac Prichard:

It does and there’s research out there, Ben. I think we’ve talked about this on previous episodes, that the salary you get in a position, particularly early in your career, has a cascading effect throughout the rest of your professional life. It sets a base by which future raises come. So it’s in your interest financially, to make sure that you get that number up as high as you can, whether it’s your first job, you’re switching jobs, or you’re up for a promotion.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah, it’s not just about what that first salary looks like. Because when we raise salaries, it’s often, you’re getting a five percent salary raise or a ten percent raise. Ten percent on a larger base means you’re actually getting more raise when that time comes. Over the course of your career, even if you’re only spending a couple of years with an organization, you can see a big difference. Whether you negotiate your starting salary at sixty thousand or sixty five, over the course of three years, that’s a big difference you might find.

So I know we’ve talked about negotiation in the show and that we’ve had several guests come in, including Jeff Weiss, from Harvard Business Review, talking about negotiation.  If you’ve listened to all 120 episodes of our show, this article might be a little bit basic for you. But if you’re just getting your feet wet on the topic of negotiation, then I think this is a pretty good primer.

More so than a lot of the folks who have been on our show, however, Babcock and Bear dive into the some of the strategic psychology of salary negotiation. We’re getting back to that idea, getting inside the mind of the interviewer.

Jessica Black:

Interesting.

Ben Forstag:

They have some good insights on how much you can push the envelope in your ask, as well as how to evaluate the speed with which an employer accepts or rejects your ask. Figuring out what that actually means, because the job seeker doesn’t have a whole lot of information from the outside. So you’re always interpreting what the hiring manager is, based on limited information. They’ve got some really interesting data about what that actually means. These time differences, and the speed upon which people respond.

So again, great primer for negotiation. If you are nearing the end of the interview process, and you think an offer is on the table, I would suggest you check it out. Again, it’s on HBR.org, the Harvard Business Review website.

Mac Prichard:

Well thank you Ben. If you have a suggestion for Ben, he would love to hear from you. Please write him, his address is ben@macslist.org. We’d love to use your idea on the show.

Now let’s turn to you, our listeners, and Becky is here to answer one of your questions. Becky, what’s in the Mac’s List mailbag this week?

Becky Thomas:

This question came to us from Kate Hendricks. She’s from Alexandria, Virginia. So Kate says:

“I’m from Eugene and consider Portland to be home as that is where I spent most of my adult years and most of my family lives there. I moved to D.C. about four years ago to take a job at the Department of Energy and jump start my career. Now that I have a few years of experience under my belt I want to head home. I’ve been trying to search for a job from here but it’s proven challenging. I’ve gotten plenty of interviews but no job offers. When I ask for feedback, I’m usually told I came in second or there wasn’t anything that I did wrong, they just found someone who had more experience or was a better fit.

Anyway, my lease is coming to an end very shortly and I am considering moving back to Oregon without a job and searching from there. This is, of course, terrifying as I don’t want to be unemployed at all. On the flip side, I think it will help me with my chances of getting a job once I’m actually physically in Portland. So if you are able to give any advice on searching for a job from afar vs moving back unemployed I’d really appreciate it!”

Thank you, Kate. It’s clear from your email that you’ve done a lot of work on this already, and it’s great that you’ve been getting interviews and it sounds like those are going well. From a lot of people that I hear from who are doing this long distance job search, they aren’t even getting interviews, or getting any sort of traction at all. So I think you’re doing all the right things here.

The bottom line is, it can be hard to land an offer when you’re not physically present in the city that you’re applying in. It is not impossible, however, so I think there’s a few tips I can give that you may be able to use.

So one thing is to really over-communicate with the people that you’re talking to, whether you’re interviewing or networking, talk about your plans to relocate. So it sounds like you’re thinking about moving pretty shortly. So when you’re interviewing, go ahead and talk to those folks about your moving dates. Your clear plans to travel and move will alleviate some of the stress from the employers who are like, “Is this person really going to move here, or are they just putting feelers out?” So that will help position you.

Also, maybe think about how you want to address relocation expenses. I think a lot of employers are prone to hire local folks because they don’t want to get into that “thousands of dollars for relocation expenses” with someone who’s moving from a large distance away. So consider whether you can say, “I’m going to move, and relocation is not necessary.” Or, “I’m willing to negotiate around that.” Or something like that. You can alleviate their fears that way.

I hear your question about “What am I going to do with my lease ending? Should I just move?” I’ve been in that exact situation, moving to Portland, and I totally feel you. I think it’s really up to you and the situation that you’re in. So you have a lot of local connections, it seems like, already, so if you can feasibly afford a few months of unemployment, and you’ve got that safety net, I would probably recommend you to move and just jump right away into networking, into  informational interviews, and that professional development, to build a local network. In my experience it’s a lot easier to land a job once you’re here, especially with Portland’s culture of, who-you-know is really important.

So that’s where I would land on it, and I know it’s different for everybody, so you need to do that thinking on your own and figure out where you’re at financially and professionally. But if you know you want to be here, make the jump and do your best and your due diligence once you’re here, to really build that network right away. I think you’ll be fine.

We also have a blog at Mac’s List that gives you some of these tactics written out, so hopefully that will help as well. Any other thoughts from you guys?

Jessica Black:

I have a couple extras.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah.

Jessica Black:

I was also going to reiterate your last point about, it is easier to job hunt in the city that you’re wanting to be in. So I would also second that, especially if your lease is up. Again, do what you need to do, but I think it sounds like you already want to do that, and you’re just not really sure if it’s the right decision, or if it’s the safe decision. But again, with your connections and your family here, it might be a perfect scenario, rather than moving to a city where you don’t know anyone and you don’t have a place to crash or a support system.

But all that said, I also wanted to mention that you can…I have a couple pieces of advice.

Number one, know why you’re moving and be able to articulate that. Because again, I think there’s a connotation of moving from a large city, where there’s the idea that there’s a lot of jobs and opportunities, moving back to a city, especially if you’re working for the government. There’s a smaller organization, or smaller pool for that, and there may be some questions raised that if you don’t address them and be transparent about that, that could be where the employer’s mind is just going to run with whatever they believe. Even if it’s not true.

So for example, talk about what you learned from the Department of Energy, and what kind of skills you can translate to your next job, and why you’re looking to do that, and why you’re looking to come back to a smaller pool. Or whatever it is that’s giving you that push. I would encourage you, family is a legitimate reason, but I would also encourage you to steer it towards what the job offers as well. So I think family as a bonus, but what the job is offering you. Or what you’re offering to the job.

Becky Thomas:

Or your professional goal.

Jessica Black:

Absolutely.

Then I would also say, that absolutely start making connections, and informational interviews, and seeing what kinds of networking you’re going to be doing when you get here. But I think you can start doing that from afar by LinkedIn connections and all of that stuff. I would just encourage you to do those few things and good luck.

Becky Thomas:

Thanks.

Ben Forstag:

Echoing Becky’s point about, it sounds like you’re in a better situation, Kate, than other folks because you’ve got a family and friend network here in the Oregon area. So I would leverage that for as much as it’s worth. Let those people know. Let your parent’s friends, their friends, let them know that you’re looking for work near, and what specifically you’re looking for. Because that’s going to help a lot.

With employers, I would not just focus on when you’re going to move, but be very clear, “I’m moving because I’ve got family here.” Again, family is a strong legitimate draw. Employers will feel much more secure knowing that you’re moving to a place where you’ve got a support network. You’ve got people that you know. You’re not going to arrive here, and then realize that you hate it and move away in two months.  Play up those assets.

Mac Prichard:

The only thing I would add to all of that excellent advice is, you’re employed by a national organization, the Federal government; whether you’re employed by the Federal government or a national or regional corporation, sometimes you have the opportunity to take the job with you and work remotely. With the Federal government, it’s called “being detailed”. Maybe she could get detailed to Portland. I have to imagine she’s thought about that. But if that’s not a possibility, maybe there are contracts or short term projects she can bring with her, whether she’s coming to… in this case it’s Oregon she’s interested in, but in any state.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, that’s good. Good point.

Jessica Black:

Yeah that’s a great idea.

Becky Thomas:

Thank you guys.

Mac Prichard:

Well good, well thank you, Becky, and thanks for the question. If you have a question for Becky, please email her. Her email address is becky@macslist.org. You can also call our listener line, that number is area-code, 716-JOB-TALK – or send us a message on the Mac’s List Facebook page.

If we use your question on the show, we’ll send you a copy of Land Your Dream Job Anywhere

We’ll be back in just a moment. When we return, I’ll talk with this week’s guest expert, Mark Babbitt, about what you must say in a job interview to earn the offer.

Now let’s turn to this week’s guest expert, Mark Babbitt.

Mark Babbitt is the founder of YouTern, a social resource for young professionals that Mashable calls a “Top 5 Online Community for Starting Your Career.”

Mark is also President of WorqIQ, a community that looks at the key factors that contribute to our collective workplace intelligence.

And he’s co-author of the best-seller A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive

Mark joins us today from Colorado Springs, in Colorado. 

Mark, thanks for being on the show.

Mark Babbitt:

Of course, thank you for having me on. I appreciate it.

Mac Prichard:

Well Mark, it’s a pleasure to have you, and our topic this week is, as you know, what people must say in a job interview to earn the offer. Let’s talk about that, Mark. I know this is something you feel passionate about. Why do job seekers have to work hard to get that offer in an interview?

Mark Babbitt:

I think the main point is that we don’t have to treat the interview as an interrogation. I know that’s cliche advice right now, but especially young people and those who might lack some confidence, maybe reentering the workplace after awhile, they just sit back and let the interview come at them, and there’s so many points you have to get across to get the job offer.

It starts with how, specifically, are you going to solve the problem that the employer is trying to handle with this hire? So you have to talk about your value, and trust me, that has nothing to do with being a detail-oriented, hardworking, people person like everybody has on their resumes. It really does get to your specific value and how you’re going to solve problems in that role.

Mac Prichard:

So many people, as you know, Mark, walk into the interview and they wait to answer questions. You’ve talked about why that’s not a good idea, but what do they need to do instead? What should they do before they walk into the room?

Mark Babbitt:

Well I think first of all, use the manners your mama taught you. Make good eye contact, and give a good firm, dry handshake, and all of that. After that, sit down and instigate a conversation between two people with similar interests. You can do that by starting with your own questions, or asking about the role. Or asking about what it’s like to work there. You can say, “I did my research, I see that you’ve been here eleven years. What still gets you out of the bed in the morning? What excites you about coming to work here?” Take a little more assertive role in the process.

Mac Prichard:

I can imagine listeners saying, “Well be assertive, won’t the jeopardize my chances of getting the job? Aren’t I there to listen and to answer the questions, and wait to be told what to do?”

Mark Babbitt:

That’s fair enough, and the answer is no. That’s what everyone else is going to do in the job interview process and our job is to stand out a little bit, and to show some confidence, and display some poise. To stick out a little bit and to make them think, “Wow, this is not my typical interview, maybe this is a good thing.”

Mac Prichard:

So, Mark, do you think that applicants should actually take charge of the interview, and exercise some control here?

Mark Babbitt:

No, I wouldn’t say take charge. I wouldn’t say be that assertive, but co-manage. Be an integral part of the conversation, rather than waiting for the interrogation.

Mac Prichard:

Okay, so let’s talk about that. What does co-management mean when you’re sitting there in the applicant’s chair?

Mark Babbitt:

Well, first it means that you’ve done as much homework on the company and interviewer as they’ve done on you. You and I both know that means they check you out on social media, starting with LinkedIn, then probably Facebook, and Twitter if you’re there. They might even go down to SnapChat and Instagram. They’ve checked you out pretty good or else you wouldn’t be sitting in that chair right now. So give them the same courtesy, and show them that you’ve given them that courtesy.

Ask questions about the mission, and the progress, and where they are against their milestones for the year, or as a startup. That’s where you want to be a little assertive and let them know, “Yes, I’m here to hopefully win the job offer, but I’m also here to make sure it’s a really good match for both of us.”

Mac Prichard:

I don’t want to belabor this point, but I’m sure you’ve had this experience, I certainly have. Where we meet people who tell us they have a job interview coming up, and they’re excited because they want to learn more about the company and the position. What they plan to do, Mark, is treat that conversation as a research or discovery phase. Just tell me again, why is that not a good idea?

Mark Babbitt:

Well, I think that some of it is a good idea, because you want to show an insatiable level of curiosity but here’s what you don’t want to do. You don’t want to walk in and ask a question, or start a conversation about something that’s readily available online already, or in a social media feed, or in the news.

You want to come with a unique set of questions and then apply your skills to this unique position, the job at this company. Not some generic position where you’ve applied to twelve different companies. But you want to show them, “I am interested in this job, that’s why I’m in this chair, and I’d like to have a two-way conversation.”

Mac Prichard:

So let’s talk about the benefits of having that two-way conversation. How does that help the applicant, and ultimately, to your point, help them earn that offer?

Mark Babbitt:

So here’s the problem Mac, and you know this already. Employers, interviewers, HR people, they go through this so many times, every single day, and there’s almost nothing unique about any of those conversations. They expect people to just sit back, as you alluded to earlier, and let the interview come to them. Hopefully yes, to learn something that they didn’t know before, because that will help make a good decision for both parties.

But you’ve got to come in ready, and if it’s something on the about us page, or the careers page, or something in the social media feed from that morning, or industry news that’s highly relevant to that day’s interview…boy, you’ll stand out far above the competition if you walk in and you bring that conversation up, rather than waiting for them to.

Mac Prichard:

So earlier in the show, I was talking with my co hosts, and Becky brought up one of her favorite strategies, which is to get the interviewer to imagine you as the applicant in the job. What do you think of that approach, Mark?

Mark Babbitt:

Well that’s the key. Becky you’re very smart. That’s the key to this whole approach to job interviews. If you ask the best questions, and if you come in having done all of your research, and you start to act like you’re already part of the team, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. The interviewer, the HR person, the hiring manager, they’re going to start to imagine you in that role. Not just as that person who showed up on a LinkedIn profile, with a resume, or through the ATS, but they’re going to start seeing you in that desk, saying, “Yeah, she could do this.” That’s the ultimate goal.

Mac Prichard:

What are some other strategies that you recommend based on your experience, Mark?

Mark Babbitt:

Well, I think one of the key things is to try to steer the cliche questions back to something highly relevant. For instance, if you can tell a story, rather than say where you see yourself in five years, that kind of thing. If you can tell a story that actually helps that recruiter, again, see you in that position, we’re talking about a particular time you solved a crisis, or saved a customer. Especially if you attach numbers or percentages, or dollar signs, to that story, then they really start to see you in that role. They start to get excited about possibilities, and your questions, the questions that now come to you go from the mundane, the ordinary, the scripted questions, to, “Wait a minute. Tell me more about that. How did you? We have that same problem here, how did you solve that problem?”  Now again, you’re having a two way conversation.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, I run another business, a public relations firm, and I work with a business coach who encourages that same technique. He says when you’re sitting down with a prospective client, you want to draw them out about their problems, and then use it as an opportunity to tell a story about a problem you’ve had, and a service you offer that has solved that problem. Again, be specific about the results. But do it so that the person sitting across from you will say, “Hey, I want that. Can you do that for me?”

Mark Babbitt:

Well, you know about the old illustration, begin with the end in mind. That’s exactly what you’re describing. If you prove yourself as a critical thinker and a problem solver, and what employer doesn’t want those two soft skills, to check them off the list. Again, you’re accomplishing all of your major goals.

Mac Prichard:

So I love that you brought up begin with the end in mind, because I’m a big fan of reverse mapping, Mark. So just playing along with your point here, so we’re walking out of that interview and we want to get an offer. What else would you recommend people visualize and think about doing, just working back from that result, to get someone to say, “Hey” either to you directly, or after you leave the room, “I want to hire him or her”?

Mark Babbitt:

Well, first of all, understand what the expectations of that specific meeting are. Is this the first interview? So the optimum situation is that you’ll be called back for a second interview. Is this the final interview? Is decision time today? Understand the risks, understand the rewards. Then you can reverse map back to the situation.

For instance, it amazes me, Mac, how many people leave an interview without any kind of a closing discussion. They don’t set expectations, they don’t let the person know they’ll be following up, or how. They don’t ask what the best way to follow up is, and when they should. Then they leave that meeting a little bit stressed and a little bit uncomfortable. The fact is, candidates would rather be lied to and have someone say, “We’re going to make a decision this Friday, we’ll call you on Monday.” Usually that doesn’t happen, even when recruiters sound like they really mean it. But they’d rather hear that than just wonder, “Well, what’s next?”

Rather than wonder what’s next for you, reverse map it back and say, “Okay, when should we talk again? Seems like today’s conversation went really well. I’m really excited. When are we going to talk next?” Ask the question. Then from there, reverse map back to the conversation.

That’s a great time, by the way, to bring up a follow up question, or one of the primary questions that you came armed with today that hasn’t been asked. That’s a great time to map that out, and to figure out what’s next. But certainly don’t reverse map the whole thing, but don’t not end up in the spot you want to be in. Maybe the spot you want to be in is, “This didn’t work out today, now that I’m here, I’m not too excited about the company. Or the interviewer seemed really blase about my application, and my participation.” So maybe you don’t want the job offer either.

Granted, I know everybody has bills to pay, I know we have deadlines, and a sense of urgency, but boy, it’s better to reverse map that out and go, “Well, here’s what I want to hear in order to have that next conversation. In order to want that next conversation.” And that’s a big part of it too.

Mac Prichard:

It is, and a job interview is like a business meeting. None of us, I think, would walk into a business meeting and leave that room without having a clear sense of what the next steps were, and discussing it with all the other parties in the room. It’s always striking to me that so many applicants do leave the room without having that conversation.

Mark Babbitt:

You just made an excellent point, Mac. If nothing else, it shows a certain lack of leadership. A lack of communication, a lack of confidence. As you said, you never leave a business meeting without knowing what your action items are, don’t leave a job interview without knowing either.

Mac Prichard:

Good. Well, final bit of advice about what people need to do to get that offer? To earn it while they’re in that hot seat, whether it’s at the start of the process or the end, Mark?

Mark Babbitt:

Well I tell you what, two things. One, if you sense that the interview is not going well, don’t be afraid to ask for the do over. It’s amazing, especially when I talk to young job seekers, young careerists, all the time, it’s amazing how effective that technique is. It’s just, “I would like a do over, I walked in, it didn’t seem like we got off to a great start. So let’s a have a do over.” So don’t give up on an interview ten minutes into it, ask for a do over. The interviewer will usually respect that.

But more importantly, I like to tell job seekers, “If you’ve done your homework and you’ve read the job description well, and you’ve checked the company out on social media, and LinkedIn, you can walk in with a mini plan.” Talk about reverse mapping. Well walk in with a mini plan, and say, “If I were in this role, here’s what I think might happen in the first 90 days. How does that sit with you? Does it work? Does it work with the current team?”  Show the employer that you’ve actually done your homework.

I’ve actually had people take up a folder, a presentation folder, and say, “I’ve taken the liberty to map out a little plan,” and hand it across the desk. Nobody does that. It immediately makes you stand out; even if the plan isn’t perfect, you’re letting the person know that you’ve really set aside some time and really thought about this role at this company.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, based on my experiences as an employer, but also talking to other hiring managers, people who do that, who lay out a plan, it may not be perfect, but it exists, they’re going to stand out from the other applicants.

Mark Babbitt:

Well yeah, and it takes you from a candidate role, to almost a consultant role, and that puts you in the top five percent of candidates.

Mac Prichard:

Great. Well, I can tell this is a subject you enjoy talking about, and I do too, but we do need to bring our conversation to a close, Mark. So tell me, what’s next for you?

Mark Babbitt:

Well we’re actually launching a new version of YouTern, by the end of this year, so that’s quite exciting for us. We’re also getting heavily involved in a cause that we refer to as digital citizenship. We’re teaching both high school students and college students what it’s like to be out there, online, and how to live and work and play safely, with some self awareness. So it’s an exciting time for us right now.

Mac Prichard:

Great. Well I know people can learn more about you and your company by visiting, YouTern.com, and they can also find you on Twitter. Your Twitter handle is @MarkSBabbit. Mark, thanks for being on the show today.

Mark Babbitt:

Of course, Mac, thank you again.

Mac Prichard:

Take care.

We’re back in the studio, with the Mac’s List team. I enjoyed that conversation with Mark. What are the thoughts of you all around the table?

Ben Forstag:

I liked his point about bringing something that shows you’ve done your research. I remember I interviewed someone once, and they brought a marketing plan for the organization. Obviously they didn’t have all the details that they needed to put a real marketing plan together. But it was like a six page, here’s some next action items. I was really impressed by that. It made an impression. Pretty easily, that person made it to the second round of interviews.

The one question I had, and I’m going to push this back on you, Mac. A do over, in an interview… can you actually do that?

Mac Prichard:

I think you can, yeah. I think it’s okay to start over if you’ve been feeling awkward. I was curious about that, I’d like to hear more about that. Maybe we should invite Mark back to do a…

Ben Forstag:

For a do over.

Mac Prichard:

For a do over. But I have seen people once or twice say, “Hey, I’m not sure I got off to a good start, can I say that again?”, in an answer.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah, I’ve seen people restart on an answer, say, “Let me try that again” and start over. But I think he was saying that ten minutes into an interview, you could say, “We got off on the wrong foot here, let’s just start over again. I’m going to walk in the door afresh.” If it works, that’s fantastic, I wish I knew that in the past.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah,  maybe we should invite him back for a do over. We can talk about that technique, because it’s the first time I’ve heard of it done in that way.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, that gave me pause too. I think you would have to be really open and honest about it and just try to relieve those jitters, because I could see that making it worse. If you’re like, “Oh wait, can I start over?” I probably wouldn’t do that, I would probably just be like, “I’m a little nervous, but I really want to keep talking here.” Something like that.

Jessica Black:

I think that’s a good approach. I also would be very curious about what Mark…like, his strategies for that.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah.

Jessica Black:

Because I think that there are ways that you can address that. If there is that, you start off on the wrong foot, or the interviewer misinterprets what you said out of nervousness, or something like that, and then it just spirals out of control. Then you’re kind of like, “Wait, wait, wait, let’s go back, and reset.” Then you have a laugh about it.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah.

Jessica Black:

That way you’re like, “Oh I get it. We misinterpreted it. Okay let’s start over.” That knd of thing. I don’t think it would necessarily be a, go back to the door and walk back in, and sit back down together again. I’ve never done that, I’d be curious to see the best ways to really make that be successful. So that’s good.

Mac Prichard:

I’m hearing a lot of interest in this topic.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, but I did like his emphasis on making sure that interviewees don’t just sit back and wait for the conversation to happen at them. I liked his emphasis on making sure that it is a two way street, and you are interviewing each other. You need to be as prepared as the interviewer is, and you need to be contributing as much. You don’t just have to sit with your hands folded and say, “Yes ma’am, no ma’am”, to all the questions. You can contribute and you can show your true personality, and that you’re prepared, and that you are a great candidate. That you’re ready to be there and you’re excited to be there. So I thought that was a really good reminder.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, and if you do that, you increase the chances that you’ll get an offer.

Jessica Black:

Absolutely.

Mac Prichard:

Good, well thanks everybody, and thank you, Mark, for joining us this week, and thank you, our listeners, for downloading today’s episode of Find Your Dream Job.

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Ask better questions, be assertive, and create a conversation. These are the interview strategies that lead to job offers. Our guest Mark Babbitt shares tips and tricks to turn a job interview from an interrogation into a productive dialogue. All it takes is solid preparation and a few simple approaches to guide the interview in a positive direction.

This Week’s Guest

Mark S. BabbittMark Babbitt is founder of YouTern, a social resource for young professionals that Mashable calls a “Top 5 Online Community for Starting Your Career.” Mark is also President of WorqIQ, a community that looks at the key factors that contribute to our collective workplace intelligence. And he’s co-author of the best-seller A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive.

Resources in this Episode