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A key to success in the executive search process is business intelligence — how to get it and how to use it.

iStock_000028804498XSmallThat is certainly the case if you are a candidate and you want to have a perfect interview, or at least as nearly perfect as possible in today’s competitive job market.  

Here are five thoughts on how to accomplish a perfect interview:

  1. Arrive 10 minutes early, appropriately groomed and dressed.  Be genuinely happy to be there. 
  2. Be prepared, be engaged.  If you have done your homework on the client and the recruiter it will show in terms of confidence and engagement. When you are asked a first question – “tell me something about yourself that is not on your resume that will help me understand why you will be successful with this client” – seem pleased to have an opportunity to sell yourself.  Have a relevant story or a well thought out answer that sets the tone for the rest of the session.
  3. Do not show discomfort or nervousness when you get the inevitable questions about weaknesses or career setbacks.  Hoping that these questions will not be asked is not a winning interview strategy.  Outplacement consultants advise candidates not to discuss anything negative so some pre-interview planning for either of these questions is the only smart move.  Making one up on the fly is akin to hoping the recruiter will forget to ask.
  4. Have a deep understanding of your value proposition — why an employer would want to hire you.  Be prepared with an answer that connects your strengths with their needs.  Be ready with specific, measurable accomplishments from prior employment.  Being specific is a good thing, being too general – not prepared – is not. 
  5. Close the deal.  The recruiter or the employer is looking for a reason to hire you.  Do not end the telephone call, Skype video session, or face-to-face interview without connecting the dots in very specific ways.  A well thought out closing statement, re-emphasizing your value and expressly linking past success to the client’s needs, is critical.  This will be hard to do if you have not done your homework – collected business intelligence on the client, their challenges, and needs.

Candidates who master these five points stand a far better chance than even more qualified people who are not prepared and come across as just going through the motions.

This happens all the time, seriously.