Interview Etiquette

by Staff - Original publish date: January 19, 2012

When I talk with chief-chiefs of major-major corporations about joining my extremely expensive Partners in Fabulousness program, I know they will have just one question: How could we live without you?

It would take more than generally accepted accounting principles to detract from my flair for making each individual corporate officer believe that of all the stars in my firmament, he or she shines the brightest. I just wear my Cazal sunglasses to the meeting so my prospective clients can admire themselves in the reflection, and before long even the most curmudgeonly executive is signing the contract and scheduling foosball playdates with my dog Dickie.

Cast yourself as the lead in your own career movie, one that has others leaving the theatre humming "You made me love you" and not "It was just one of those things." You already know to arrive on time in your best costume having bathed. Here are other tips.

Check your teeth before getting out of the car, and be sure your hair is consistent. That's what illuminated vanity mirrors are for.

Be on your best behavior within a mile of company property. Inevitably your interviewer's confidant will be nearby as your briefcase upends, toilet paper attaches to your shoe, or you attend to an embarrassing itch. Ladies, carry a spare pair of hose.

Never leave anything behind unless for strategic reasons. A "forgotten" glove can give you an excuse to catch a few words of the all-important meeting-after-the-meeting, if you must know. I have People to snoop for me.

Once you've turned off your cell phone and introduced yourself gracefully to the company receptionist, whose name you will remember, you're ready to triumph in the face-to-face portion. Let your future manager find you reviewing the design sensibility of an annual report in the waiting area.

During the warm-up, stick to pleasant topics. Lingering illnesses, how-did-you-get-your-scar stories, and natural disasters, however fascinating, will make you stand out for unintended reasons.

My People always prepare a brief written Agenda for me to carry to any meeting. This marvelous prop makes me seem organized.

By your confident improvisations, reassure the interviewer that you haven't confused this gig with a quiz show. Claim a little more than half the airtime - you are, after all, the talent. Listen as if fascinated to what the interviewer says the rest of the time. Surprisingly many candidates look as if they'd rather be anywhere else.

Determine in advance whether you'd be comfortable working for a company that would lock you in a room for half an hour to gauge your reaction. To my liking, these rooms generally have just the right acoustic to vocalize and practice a few ballads in front of the one-way mirror. Hiring managers who have been prisoners of war are especially fond of ending an interview with a few rounds of, "Guess what we're screening for this time" followed by a luncheon of linguine puttanesca with a side salad of half-acre lettuce leaves.

Understanding personality typing and Method acting well enough to fake being decisive yet change-friendly is one way to prepare for these trials. Another is, never let them see you eat. If they ask how many golf balls you could fit in a 747, counter with your own hypothetical, such as how many consultants it would take to fill Lake Erie.

By the way: as far as your hiring public is concerned, your previous employer was simply fabulous.

End the interview by agreeing on the next step, which you then can cite in the thank-you note you mail that evening, having said goodbye to the receptionist by name on your way out.