The "Silent Treatment"
Like a primitive tribal mask, the Silent
Treatment loses all it power to frighten you once you
refuse to be intimidated. If your interviewer pulls it,
keep quiet yourself for a while and then ask, with
sincere politeness and not a trace of sarcasm, “Is there
anything else I can fill in on that point?” That’s all
there is to it.
Whatever you do, don’t let the Silent Treatment
intimidate you into talking a blue streak, because you
could easily talk yourself out of the position.
Why should I hire you?
By now you can see how critical it is to apply the
overall strategy of uncovering the employer’s needs
before you answer questions. If you know the employer’s
greatest needs and desires, this question will give you
a big leg up over other candidates because you will give
him better reasons for hiring you than anyone else is
likely to…reasons tied directly to his needs.
Whether your interviewer asks you this question
explicitly or not, this is the most important question
of your interview because he must answer this question
favorably in is own mind before you will be hired. So
help him out! Walk through each of the position’s
requirements as you understand them, and follow each
with a reason why you meet that requirement so well.
Example: “As I understand your needs, you are first and
foremost looking for someone who can manage the sales
and marketing of your book publishing division. As
you’ve said you need someone with a strong background in
trade book sales. This is where I’ve spent almost all of
my career, so I’ve chalked up 18 years of experience
exactly in this area. I believe that I know the right
contacts, methods, principles, and successful management
techniques as well as any person can in our industry.”
“You also need someone who can expand your book
distribution channels. In my prior post, my innovative
promotional ideas doubled, then tripled, the number of
outlets selling our books. I’m confident I can do the
same for you.”
“You need someone to give a new shot in the arm to your
mail order sales, someone who knows how to sell in space
and direct mail media. Here, too, I believe I have
exactly the experience you need. In the last five years,
I’ve increased our mail order book sales from $600,000
to $2,800,000, and now we’re the country’s second
leading marketer of scientific and medical books by
mail.” Etc., etc., etc.,
Every one of these selling “couplets” (his need matched
by your qualifications) is a touchdown that runs up your
score. IT is your best opportunity to outsell your
Aren’t you overqualified for this position?
As with any objection, don’t view this as a sign of
imminent defeat. It’s an invitation to teach the
interviewer a new way to think about this situation,
seeing advantages instead of drawbacks.
Example: “I recognize the job market for what it is – a
marketplace. Like any marketplace, it’s subject to the
laws of supply and demand. So ‘overqualified’ can be a
relative term, depending on how tight the job market is.
And right now, it’s very tight. I understand and accept
“I also believe that there could be very positive
benefits for both of us in this match.”
“Because of my unusually strong experience in
________________ , I could start to contribute right
away, perhaps much faster than someone who’d have to be
brought along more slowly.”
“There’s also the value of all the training and years of
experience that other companies have invested tens of
thousands of dollars to give me. You’d be getting all
the value of that without having to pay an extra dime
for it. With someone who has yet to acquire that
experience, he’d have to gain it on your nickel.”
“I could also help you in many things they don’t teach
at the Harvard Business School. For example…(how to
hire, train, motivate, etc.) When it comes to knowing
how to work well with people and getting the most out of
them, there’s just no substitute for what you learn over
many years of front-line experience. You company would
gain all this, too.”
“From my side, there are strong benefits, as well. Right
now, I am unemployed. I want to work, very much, and the
position you have here is exactly what I love to do and
am best at. I’ll be happy doing this work and that’s
what matters most to me, a lot more that money or
“Most important, I’m looking to make a long term
commitment in my career now. I’ve had enough of
job-hunting and want a permanent spot at this point in
my career. I also know that if I perform this job with
excellence, other opportunities cannot help but open up
for me right here. In time, I’ll find many other ways to
help this company and in so doing, help myself. I really
am looking to make a long-term commitment.”
NOTE: The main concern behind the “overqualified”
question is that you will leave your new employer as
soon as something better comes your way. Anything you
can say to demonstrate the sincerity of your commitment
to the employer and reassure him that you’re looking to
stay for the long-term will help you overcome this
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Reassure your interviewer that you’re looking to make a
long-term commitment…that this position entails exactly
what you’re looking to do and what you do extremely
well. As for your future, you believe that if you
perform each job at hand with excellence, future
opportunities will take care of themselves.
Example: “I am definitely interested in making a
long-term commitment to my next position. Judging by
what you’ve told me about this position, it’s exactly
what I’m looking for and what I am very well qualified
to do. In terms of my future career path, I’m confident
that if I do my work with excellence, opportunities will
inevitable open up for me. It’s always been that way in
my career, and I’m confident I’ll have similar
Describe your ideal company, location and job.
The only right answer is to describe what this company
is offering, being sure to make your answer believable
with specific reasons, stated with sincerity, why each
quality represented by this opportunity is attractive to
Remember that if you’re coming from a company that’s the
leader in its field or from a glamorous or much admired
company, industry, city or position, your interviewer
and his company may well have an “Avis” complex. That
is, they may feel a bit defensive about being “second
best” to the place you’re coming from, worried that you
may consider them bush league.
This anxiety could well be there even though you’ve done
nothing to inspire it. You must go out of your way to
assuage such anxiety, even if it’s not expressed, by
putting their virtues high on the list of exactly what
you’re looking for, providing credible reason for
wanting these qualities.
If you do not express genuine enthusiasm for the firm,
its culture, location, industry, etc., you may fail to
answer this “Avis” complex objection and, as a result,
leave the interviewer suspecting that a hot shot like
you, coming from a Fortune 500 company in New York, just
wouldn’t be happy at an unknown manufacturer based in
Why do you want to work at our company?
This question is your opportunity to hit the ball out of
the park, thanks to the in-depth research you should do
before any interview.
Best sources for researching your target company: annual
reports, the corporate newsletter, contacts you know at
the company or its suppliers, advertisements, articles
about the company in the trade press.
What are your career options right now?
Prepare for this question by thinking of how you can
position yourself as a desired commodity. If you are
still working, describe the possibilities at your
present firm and why, though you’re greatly appreciated
there, you’re looking for something more (challenge,
money, responsibility, etc.). Also mention that you’re
seriously exploring opportunities with one or two other
If you’re not working, you can talk about other
employment possibilities you’re actually exploring. But
do this with a light touch,
speak only in general
terms. You don’t want to seem manipulative or coy.
Why have you been out of work so long ?
You want to emphasize factors which have prolonged your
job search by your own choice.
Example: “After my job was terminated, I made a
conscious decision not to jump on the first
opportunities to come along. In my life, I’ve found out
that you can always turn a negative into a positive IF
you try hard enough. This is what I determined to do. I
decided to take whatever time I needed to think through
what I do best, what I most want to do, where I’d like
to do it…and then identify those companies that could
offer such an opportunity.”
“Also, in all honesty, you have to factor in the
recession (consolidation, stabilization, etc.) in the
(banking, financial services, manufacturing,
advertising, etc.) industry.”
“So between my being selective and the companies in our
industry downsizing, the process has taken time. But in
the end, I’m convinced that when I do find the right
match, all that careful evaluation from both sides of
the desk will have been well worthwhile for both the
company that hires me and myself.