small change: your 3-step interview plan (1)


small change 


Ciarán Fenton

How small changes in your behaviour will have a big impact on how you work, lead or follow

That’s the working title of a book I’m writing, initially as a series of short blogs.

Blog 1 small change: seven principles

Blog 2 small change: your career is a unique business

Blog 3 small change: your soft balance sheet

Blog 4 small change: your D Liability

Blog 5 small change: your timeline

Blog 6 small change: your formative years

Blog 7 small change: your A asset

Blog 8 small change: your career equity

Blog 9 small change: your curriculum vitae

Blog 10 small change: your emotional intelligence

Blog 11 small change: your reputation

Blog 12 small change: you, three years from now

Blog 13 small change: your purpose, strategy & behaviour (PSB)

Blog 14 small change: your soft p&l

Blog 15 small change: your 7 career options

Blog 16 small change: your relationship grid

Blog 17 small change: you are not a human capital asset

Blog 18 small change: your 7-step job search plan

Blog 19 small change: your 3-step interview plan (1)

small change

Seven principles

Principle 2

Organisations are more likely to hire you if

  • you’re the least risky
  • not, necessarily, the best


Blog 19  small change: your 3-step interview plan (1)

yoru three-step interview plan

Step 1 Establish, accurately, buyer’s needs

If you are an interviewee then you are selling. Your interviewer is buying.

Grasp that and your chances of success will soar.

Sadly, many – especially senior leaders – struggle to postpone attending to their own needs before addressing the needs of the buyer.

The first rule of selling is that there can be no sale without the buyer having a need, latent or explicit, which you can meet.

The way to surface needs, explicit or latent, is to ask as many open biased questions necessary to establish beyond doubt the buyer’s needs, as they see them. I repeat: as they see them, not as you see them.

Open biased questions include: why? how? when?

If you are being interviewed by a headhunter remember your task is to sell to them the reasons why they should include you on their shortlist.

Headhunters are buyers of first instance.

So many interviews are lost by interviewees because they pitch to the headhunter as if they are not the buyer in the first instance. That’s fatal.

Do not move to Step 2 until you are sure you know, accurately, the buyer’s needs.

You can test this by summarising the needs back to the buyer.

If you get the summary right then the buyer will tell you directly and/or through their body language whether you are right, or not.

When you get verbal and/or physical confirmation – usually involuntary nods – that you have summarised their needs correctly, then and only then, move to Step 2.

I call these confirmations “noddies”.

If you don’t get any noddies do not move to Step 2 because you will make the cardinal error of pitching to the wrong needs and, as I have witnessed on so many occasions, you won’t know what you won’t know about why you are not called to the next interview.

I find it painful witnessing bright, successful and able people, with little selling experience, bewildered when they hear that they have not been shortlisted.

It takes discipline not to rush.

Exercise it.

Ciarán Fenton


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