Let me start with I truly admire the advice Mike and Mark give. I'm a long time fan and have embraced the Trilogy to great benefit. I recently purchased the Interview Series and listed twice to each cast, and followed the guidance. Very valuable.

However - when it came to my big interview, an opportunity that comes along about every 5 years in my field, I blew it. I blame myself, but I think part of it was I may very well have been over prepared!

Here's why. My interviewer was overly conversational. She didn't grill me the way I was expecting - the way I prepared to be. I found myself struggling in the interview, trying in vain to get my accomplishments across. I realize now I was "waiting" for the questions, and holding back, never really relaxing and engaging in an overly enthusiastic exchange of ideas with my interviewer. I was almost too committed to the preparation I had spent days on.

I was told by my recruiter they selected a final list of candidates who demonstrated "innovation" in their interviews. Thinking back, I simply felt I was too puckered up, following the formula too closely and not reading the signals to open up and enthuse my interviewer on the merits of my creative thinking.

My suggestion is this - if you find yourself in an overly conversational interview, simply say something like "I would change the system to totally blow the competition away" and shut up. Your interviewer will be compelled to ask "How would you do that?", to which you can then follow the guidance and go for BLUF, followed by the examples of ways you behaved in the past.

You'll stay conversational, but also convey your abilities, traits, etc.



pjt2319's picture
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Hi, during my interview, I set out how i would manage 3 direct reports managing 40 directs using the one to one template as a foundation. Unfortunately this was interpreted as micro management and scored poorly. The tool works but how do I use this positively in a position where the senior manager manages other managers?

cynaus's picture
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Hi Greg - you've hit on something I recall M&M touching on at some point; when you really know your responses, you'll be able to tailor them to the style of conversation. It sounds like you realised that after the interview too.  I hope you find another opportunity to interview for a similar role again well before 5 years' time.

pj - if the organisation you were itnerviewing for saw that as micro-managing, my gut feeling would be that you probably had a lucky insight into what it would be like to work there. Sounds like a challenging environment. The MT tools (inlcuding O3's for managers with managers) is already a positive tool. Perhaps it was in the delivery of why and what the benefits are?  

Good luck to both of you for future interviews and securing that dream job :)


mjpeterson's picture

PJT it sounds like you answered the leadership style question, without defining the leadership style.  By this I mean you told them what you did, but not the why behind it. 

The Question:  "Tell me about how you would manage the department?" 

Your Answer:  “I would have weekly scheduled individual meeting with each of my directs and expect them to do the same with their direct”

Better Answer:  “Good management and the results that it delivers depend upon strong relationships between managers and directs.  To achieve this in my last role, I held a weekly individual meetings with each of my direct reports…

pjt2319's picture
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Mjpete, that is good advice, thank you!

uwavegeek's picture
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I've had this type of interivew before.  It sounds like you were ready for the final interview and not this one, which was a less technical approach.  In my case, this was my opportunity to resonate with the person.  

I tend to approach it this way.  Think of yourself in a bar conversation (sans the booze of course) where you are telling stories to each other.  Your stories are essentially your accomplishments.  You are teling them with animation, smiling and making eye contact.  Loose and natural is key here, hence the preperation outlined in the interview series.  If you follow that guidance, you should have 10-15 'stories' ready to go which cover key areas of responsibility.  

One more note, saying that you would 'totally change the system' would come across, to me at least, as arrogant and something a freshly minted MBA with no real world experience OR an industry giant who's reputation in the industry would preclude this level of interview anyway.  For those of us who fall between those career goalposts, perhaps a better statement is asking them what the biggest problem  facing the group, division, company right now (technical or managerial, depending on the role).  Danger with this is that you need to come up with an answer that impresses with little time to reflect to those who have been pondering this for considerably longer.  It shoud, however, be something that the interviewer cares about and that is the first rule of relationship building (Talking about what the other person cares about).  

Good luck!

All the best,