Marketing Yourself
Advice for presenting youreself to potential employers
Interviewing - The Final Interview

Suggestions for Interviewing for a Management Position
The materials you provide when responding to an advertisement - your resume, cover letter, and so on - get you to the interview. Most potential employers will then forget about them and make a selection solely based on how you perform in the interview. The following are some suggestions that we hope will help you succeed in the interview.
  • The interviewer is looking for two things: (1) Will you do an outstanding job in the position and (2) Will you be a good fit for our organization. The latter also boils down to two things: Will I (the interviewer) enjoy / be able to work well with the interviewee person and will the staff enjoy / be able to work well with the individual?
  • Be prepared. Know the City / County and its issues. We cannot emphasize this point enough. Some people get the job based on charm. They are rare. Most succeed based on their demonstrated ability to do the job and their knowledge of the client. On the other hand, many people lose an opportunity because they are not prepared and it shows. With the resources available today, no reason exists for you not to be fully prepared. We know it, you know it and our clients know it. Here are some things you can do to prepare.
    • Re-read the recruitment profile.
    • Read the last six months of the local newspaper on-line.
    • Google the City / County.
    • Find out why the position you are interviewing for is vacant.
    • Check the website and look at the Council / Commission meeting minutes for the last six months.
    • Look at the Comprehensive Plan.
    • Look at the budget, the CAFR and the management letter.
    • Call nearby managers to get their impressions but remember they do not work in the organization so their impressions may be flawed.
    • Talk to the recruiter about the position, the City / County and the issues.
    • Call the President of the local Chamber of Commerce and the Tourist Development Commission. They will probably be helpful and they will also probably tell the folks they know on the Council / Commission that you did.
    • For City / County Manager candidates, if you can, prior to the interview, attend a council / commission meeting and introduce yourself to the elected officials. Alternatively, view a meeting or two on-line so you know a bit about the dynamics between the elected officials.
    As an aside, if you do not have time to prepare, then there is no reason for you to accept the interview. You probably will not get the job anyway.
  • Appearance can be more important than what you say, believe it or not. Hence,
    • Dress appropriately. Wear a conservative outfit although you do not need to be bland. Wear a white shirt or blouse. White conveys sincerity and integrity. Wear a gray or dark suit. Women generally seem to do better when they wear suits with skirts (as long as it is not too short) than pants suits. We are not sure why - it is just seems to work that way. As an FYI, in all the City and County Manager searches we have done, the client hired the person wearing the white shirt / blouse with two exceptions. Odd but true. Of course, many of the successful candidates may be following our advice…
    • Demonstrate good posture, sit forward and be attentive. Do not sit back and lounge in the chair. The latter does not show respect for the interviewer.
    • Make eye contact with the interviewer. That is the primary reason for the comment above about appearance sometimes being more important than substance. We have seen candidates do outstanding interviews but not get the job because their eyes are looking everywhere but into the interviewer's eyes. According to the literature, it is very distracting when you are not looking at someone when you speak and it conveys a sense that you are not being honest.
    • Be yourself. Be confident in your abilities.
  • Be passionate about wanting the job and let the client know you want the job. Most jobs are like a marriage. If a guy proposed saying, "Will you marry me?" but gives the impression it is okay if she says no, then the likelihood that she will say no goes up dramatically. Employers want to be loved and they want someone who wants to be there!
    • Further, when asked by you want the job, it is because you want new challenges. It is not because you are tired of the weather in Michigan. No one is going to hire you because the personal reasons why you want the job. They want to know that you want to be there because you have a passion for the job and its challenges. At the end of the answer, if you have relatives in the area, you might want to mention that as well since, if you do, there is a higher probability you will stay for a while.
  • Smile -- be positive and upbeat. The glass is always more than half full!
  • Listen carefully to the question. Make sure you understand it before you answer. If you need clarification, ask for it. But do not ask for clarification too often (more than twice in the interview). If you do, the interviewer will wonder if the two of you will be able to communicate if you are hired.
  • The first question in most interviews is something like, "Tell me about yourself." Most candidates give some dry, boring answer devoid of achievements. That is crazy. The "tell me about yourself" question is your chance to hit a home run and you should use it to impress the interviewer. And impressing the interviewer is a great way to get an interview started. You should have a 3 to 5 minute monolog (the so-called "elevator speech") ready that tells the interviewer who you are, where you have worked and what you have achieved. Talking about duties tells the interviewer what you did. Talking about achievements tells the interviewer you did your job well!
  • The second question is often, "Why do you want to work for us?' Many candidates talk about: (a) moving south for better weather, (b) being closer to family, (c) positioning themselves for retirement. Those are all valid reasons but none of them will help get you hired and may even work against you. The reason you want to work for XXXX City is you want new challenges and you have a wealth of skills to bring to the table to solve their problems. Or something like that. At the very end if your answer, almost in passing, you can also mention you have family in the area or throw in the fact that it is time to get out of those Michigan winters. Never mention retirement as the client will assume you are planning to retire on the job they are offering.
  • At some point in the interview, you will probably be asked about your greatest achievement. Be prepared with an answer. You may want to say it is difficult to choose and to talk about two. At least one should involve working with people to make a project a success.
  • You will also likely be asked about your weaknesses. The standard answers are, "I work too hard," and "I have very high expectations for my employees." If you want to use those answers, ready to defend them. When we hear the former answer, we respond with, "I don't see why working too hard is a problem. In fact we expect that. Why do you see it a weakness?" In terms of the latter, we ask, "Why do you think having high expectations for your employees to be a weakness?" Further, since everyone cites these as "weaknesses," it is probably better to pick something that was a weakness and is one you have largely conquered. Then you can say that but that you are still working on it a little.
  • During the interview, if you are comfortable doing so, add some personal information - not a lot. Remember interviewer will be working with you and wants to feel comfortable that you will be a good fit with the organization. Showing you have life beyond work helps do that. Besides, most interviewers want to know about you personally but know they cannot legally ask. Of course, you are under no obligation to offer any such information.
  • When you are asked a question, get to the point and stop. Do not go on and on and on and on. Some candidates will answer a question and then, if there is a brief lull, try to fill the void by adding to their answer. Don't. Lulls occur naturally while the interviewer decides what he/she wants to ask next.
  • In most cases, a good answer is 2 to 4 minutes in length. If you go on beyond 3 or 4 minutes regularly, you will be thought to be verbose and that is not a good thing. Interviewers will wonder if you will spend all your time chatting on the job instead of doing the work. Further, interviewer does not generally want every little detail but rather the highlights. If they want more information, they will ask a follow-up question.
  • If you can answer a question yes or no, then do so. After a pause, you can add, "Would you like me to explain my answer?" It is impressive when someone can be that direct. But do not do that more than once in an interview.
  • When you are answering questions, always use an example. An answer without an example is something you read in a textbook or fluff. Examples make it real and drive the point home. For example, if someone asks you about public involvement, explain how it can be done and then give an example of how you have successfully involved the public in a project or effort.
  • Do not ask the interviewer repeatedly, "Did I answer your question?" It will drive the interviewer crazy. It also does not speak well to your communications skills or your self-confidence. It is okay to ask the question once, perhaps twice but no more than that.
  • Do not just answer the questions, engage the interviewer. That means, interact with the interviewer. Smile and, if you are comfortable, inject some humor or kid with the interviewer a little (just a little). If you are not comfortable doing that, do not force it.
  • The "I" word. Candidates who use "I" a great deal in an interview tend to turn off potential employers. The reason is that you are being interviewed to be a manager and not to do all the work yourself. You are supposed to be a delegator. Further, members or your staff are almost always involved in the effort and deserve a major part of credit. You led and oversaw the effort but you probably did not do all the work. So use the word, "we" and not the word, "I". Situations do exist, of course, where "I" is appropriate but use regularly and it will cost you the job.
  • At the end, you will probably be asked if you have any questions you want to ask. Always have two or three ready. One we like is, "What was it about my credentials that attracted you to me?" The answer will give you valuable feedback but it also makes the interviewer think about your good points once again. Another is, "If I am fortunate enough to be selected for this job, after I have been here for a year, how will you judge whether or not I have been successful?"
  • In your closing, tell the interviewer that you want the job.
  • At the end, shake hands with all those who interviewed you.

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Company: Colin Baenziger & Associates
Postal/City: Daytona Beach Shores, FL 32118
Phone: 561.707.3537
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