Friday, October 12, 2007

Four More Interviewing Tips

Did another interview for the TSTC project I’m working on. This time in Dallas, specifically at the Methodist Hospitals of Dallas.

If you read the previous post, then you know that the interview I talked about was in Bryan. From my house, the drive should have been about two hours, so I allowed two and a half. But with traffic, I only just barely made it in time for the interview, but with no time to pull myself together. This time, I was told by the friend whose house I’m staying at to expect the drive to be about an hour and a half, since it would involve morning commute traffic. To be safe, I left a little before seven for the nine o’clock meeting. And got there in 35 minutes. Hard to predict travel time.

In that previous post, I listed two things to remember when interviewing:
Be prepared for the unexpected.
Check your tape recorder and know how to use it.

While I was doing this interview (which actually turned into two interviews), I thought of other tips, the first one I mentioned briefly but should have stressed.


Simple as that: Pay attention. Yeah, sure, you’re going to have a list of questions you hope to get answered. You may have those typed out to refer to, or, in my case, I write keywords at the top of my notepad that will remind me of my questions without having to have a typed page to hold onto. That way I have the questions in my head, but if need be, I can glance at the keywords. And if you have them on your notepad, you can look down, ostensibly to write a note, but really to check your cues. By knowing your questions ahead of time, you don’t have to be plotting what to ask next. And, as a result, you can … listen.

Very often what the subject is saying will lead you right into one of your prepared questions. Just as often, the words will lead you into an area you hadn’t even thought of asking. If you have time, follow the trail. It can lead you to information or quotes you can use. It may even lead you in a new direction for the article.

By following the lead of the subject, I got new information, material different than what I’d gotten in other interviews. By listening I got a tour of the facilities. By taking advantage of an unexpected offer, I was able to interview another person in the department. And I still got all my questions answered.

Second tip:
Be accommodating.

They’re giving you their time, which is precious, and their knowledge. If something happens during the interview, for example, a phone call they have to take, pick up your recorder and leave the room.

And another tip:
Leave your business card.

By leaving your contact information, you give that person a way to contact you if they think of something they want to add. Usually, they will give you their card so you can follow up with them, if you need to.

And finally:

Send a thank you note.

This is your opportunity to thank them for taking time out of their schedule to sit with you and share their expertise and information. If you didn’t have business cards with you at the interview, include one in the note.

Listen, don’t intrude, leave your contact information, and follow up with a note. Happy interviewing!

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