Before Your Next Job Interview, Rehearse in Character

Be yourself” is horrible advice for someone going on a job interview.

That’s because you are literally auditioning for a new role. Take the time to craft your “job interview character” by making a list of the qualities a successful candidate should convey. And then rehearse. For example, if you tend to be shy, expand your range of expression (and what you’re comfortable doing) by practicing what might feel like an exaggerated performance, using hand gestures and passion. And try to reframe your perspective. Instead of performing as a person who is trying really hard to get the job, perform as someone who wants to have a great conversation with the interviewer.

Ask open-ended questions and be prepared to tell stories.

Adapted from “To Ace Your Job Interview, Get into Character and Rehearse,” by Cathy Salit


Curated by Trevor Lee



Test Your Offer BEFORE You Make It!

Never make a formal offer until every aspect of that offer has been tested and agreed on beforehand. Easy to remember, but hard to fix if you forget. Once you’ve formally extended an offer, you’ve seriously limited your options. The applicant becomes the buyer, the company the seller. Open communication stops dead. Candidates stop thinking about why they want the job and start worrying about why they DON’T want it.

An offer extended while there’s still doubt often gets an “I have to think about it” response. Thinking about an offer is fine – but once you’ve extended it your own flexibility is weakened. It’s much better to have an applicant think about all aspects of an offer BEFORE you formally put it together.


Here’s another important point: Before you extend a formal offer, you get unbiased information. After, that same attempt to determine a candidate’s interest can come across as harassment, pushiness or over-selling. Contentious salary negotiations become awkward and stressful, because neither party wants to lose face. Deals often fall apart at this point for relatively unimportant reasons.

Start by testing a candidate’s general interest in the position. Ask, “Assuming an attractive offer, do the job and the challenge appeal to you?” This question lets you draw a line between the job and the offer, and gives both parties the chance to address concerns about the job itself. You’ll eliminate a lot of bad fits this way!

Then you can ask, “What would you think if we could put together a package in the range of £_____ to £_____?” You’ll need to go back and forth with the candidate to test the range, but this gets both parties talking in an open manner.

Don’t let the candidate forget about the competition – real or imaginary. Say something like, “Although we’re still seeing other candidates, I believe you’d make a great addition to our team. What do you think about something like £_____?” The threat of competition allows you to be a bit stronger during the negotiating phase, and tends to make the candidate more realistic.

A candidate’s hesitation on any item at this stage means there are probably other issues to be considered. Continue probing. Many objections have to do with lack of information: don’t move forward until you have addressed these concerns to everyone’s satisfaction. Now is the time to make trade-offs and be creative. If you can’t meet a particular need, offer an alternative – a signing bonus instead of a too-high salary, for example. Find out now if this could turn out to be a deal-breaker.

Work on all these points until you come to an agreement – or at least an understanding. You’ll both discover that this give-and-take process is much easier WITHOUT a formal offer on the table. And when all the objections have been addressed in a mutually satisfactory fashion, THEN you’re ready to get to the final offer.


Trevor Lee


Candidates Who Decline Your Job Offer. WHY?

Every company gets rejected by job candidates, and you’re missing a big opportunity if you don’t ask these people why they did it. The next time you get a “No, thank you” call or email, explain that there are no hard feelings and dig deeper for more information. Focus on questions like:

  • What did you see as the positive aspects of the role?
  • What were your concerns about the role?
  • What were the most important factors in the decision you made?
  • What feedback or suggestions do you have about your interviews, interviewers, and the interview process itself?
  • Can you provide feedback or suggestions for the hiring manager, human resources, or the organization overall?

These conversations might be awkward, but if you don’t solicit feedback from people you’ve interviewed, they may give that feedback publicly via social media. It may not be good!

Adapted from “Why You Should Interview People Who Turn Down a Job with Your Company,” by Ben Dattner


Trevor Lee


Executive Search & Interim Management since 2001
Connecting you with the best certified executive talent on the planet

Two Interviewing Techniques That Help You Really Get to Know Candidates

During interviews, candidates often offer practiced responses. Try taking a few risks to help you probe past their canned answers.

On-the-spot interview coaching is a simple way to get your candidate to open up and answer your questions more thoroughly. Give the person a coaching directive, such as “Can you please answer the same question by telling me a story with an arc?” This strategy enables you to assess whether the candidate is receptive to feedback and whether they can integrate that feedback into the rest of the interview.

If you want to change the environment of the interview and understand a candidate’s social capability in high-stress situations, try group interviews, which naturally create scenarios that strain social dynamics. This will help you determine who stands out as a natural leader. These techniques will ensure that you find stronger employees who are well-suited for your company.


Adapted from “Interview Techniques That Get Beyond Canned Responses,”

by Alicia Bassuk and Jodi Glickman

Trevor Lee


Executive Search & Interim Management 
Connecting you with the best certified executive talent on the planet

Assess New Hires for Creativity




To build a team of creative thinkers, you need to hire people who are open to new experiences and have resilience, emotional stability, flexibility, and empathy.

During interviews with potential hires, ask questions that test for these traits. For example, you might ask the candidate to come up with multiple solutions to a problem, and then see if they are able to draw connections between those solutions to find a novel approach.

If you want to test a candidate’s ability for empathy, ask them to create a persona for a new product, or have them tell a story about a day in the life of a potential customer to see whether they can take on someone else’s perspective.

These exercises give you valuable clues as to how well the applicant can connect with others both emotionally and intellectually.

Adapted from “A Data-Driven Approach to Group Creativity,” by Bastian Bergmann and Joe Schaeppi


Trevor Lee



First Impressions – Don’t Get Fooled

Disastrous hires can happen when managers are fooled by first impressions. But how can you get beyond the superficial during a brief interview?

The key is to focus on behaviors rather than traits. For example, if the interviewee describes them-self as a “team player,” do they credit other people when discussing their work? Look beyond what the candidate is saying and focus on how they are they saying it.

Watch for nonverbal cues that signal contempt, superiority, and disrespect: eye contact when speaking to another person but not when listening to them or invading another’s space.

Another telling question: Ask them to describe their least preferred coworker. Listen for whether they reduce the person to a one-word label (e.g., “difficult” or “micro-manager”) or reveal a more complex view of the situation (e.g., “we disagreed about how to get the job done because we were trained in different ways”).


Adapted from “How to Hire Without Getting Fooled by First Impressions,”

by Tanya Menon and Leigh Thompson

Trevor Lee – EP International


We provide C-suite services in the field of talent acquisition, development and retention.


When Hiring a Remote Candidate …

Many organizations are skeptical of hiring employees who will work remotely. They think in-house personnel collaborate better with coworkers and are easier to manage. But there are benefits to having remote employees: Organizations can access larger candidate pools, managers can create diverse teams, and employees can choose their ideal working locations.

The key is to make sure you hire the right remote worker by looking for the right things during the interview process. Ask the candidate how they successfully worked remotely in the past.

Consider the individual’s leadership style and how they project themselves. In order to make an impression from afar, they need to stand out in a crowd and be an advocate for their ideas. It’s also important to scrutinize the manager to whom they will report.

Remote employees need someone who will advocate for them regardless of where they live.


Adapted from “Hire the Best People, and Let Them Work from Wherever They Are,”

by Cassandra Frangos

Trevor Lee – EP International


We provide C-suite services in the field of talent acquisition, development and retention.