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Hospitality Interview Roadmap   [printable version]
Benjamin Franklin, arguably the most revered of American Revolutionary intellectuals, was also one of the busiest. Living life to the fullest as an inventor, a diplomat, a writer and more, Franklin shared his secret to success in one of his simple mottos: "Plan your work. Work your plan." An interview is a business meeting and must be approached as such from the candidate's point of view. You can demonstrate the traits that employers desire by conducting this process in a business-like manner.

We will be reviewing strategies and tactics that, when followed, have helped thousands get the jobs they really wanted. The most critical aspect of any business plan is knowing your goal. Would it surprise you to learn that the goal of interviewing isn't to get the job? The pertinent objective is to get a "job offer." Successful candidates are those who obtain several offers from which they can choose the one that best suits their skills, personality attributes, financial objectives, and so on. The ultimate goal is to receive a number of "offers," not merely one!

A common mistake in developing any strategic plan is failing to recognize both current and potential competitors. Applying common sense, is it reasonable to assume that you are the only candidate who would desire a prized position? Certainly not! Therefore, you must research the company to acquire better intelligence, prepare more thoroughly by practicing your interviewing skills, convincingly demonstrate your strengths throughout the process, and be positively persistent in reaching your goal. And what is the goal? To get the offer!

A second strategic error is failing to recognize the environmental factors. A candidate who develops his/her own rules to conduct the interview is doomed to failure. When in doubt, remember the Golden Rule of business: "The one with the gold makes the rules." Understanding that you are an invited guest who is expected to abide by the "rules of the house" is a significant advantage over competitors who fail to recognize this critical element. While you may already know who will make what you deem is the critical decision to extend an offer, would it surprise you to learn that a number of company employees may have veto power during the process? Being unpleasant or unprofessional to a receptionist or administrative assistant can sabotage or undermine your best plans.

To succeed you must make a serious commitment to develop a winning formula, and then execute it flawlessly. Borrowing a phrase from one of football's coaching icons, Vince Lombardi, when it comes to interviewing: "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing!"

As implied in our title, the entire interviewing process is a journey. Our road map to success includes these elements:

1. Who's in charge around here?
2. You've got to know the rules to play the game.
3. To Win, Eliminate These Common Errors.
4. I'll Ask the Questions, You'll Give Me Your Answers!
5. Gather Information, Prepare Your Plan, Practice, Practice, Practice.
6. Show Your Stuff!
7. I Got the Offer, Now What?
8. "Woe is me!" Now What?

1. Who's in charge around here? Your success is dependent upon an understanding of both obvious and subtle criteria an employer uses to qualify or disqualify prospective employees.
A. Qualifications. There is always a list of "minimum" skills that any candidate must meet to obtain an interview. If a position "requires" a culinary degree or a bachelor degree, you'll be disqualified without meeting these minimum threshold requirements. Masters degree optional is not a minimum requirement. In fact, being over-qualified can be a disadvantage. Having met the minimum qualifications, you must focus on orally demonstrating a mastery of skills in that area.

B. Any company wants to see the candidate demonstrate a serious interest in the company. Failing to visit the company's Web site, for example, would be a deadly mistake. It's important to tell the company representative that you like their products, what advantages you see they have over competitors, and so on. If you don't have positive things to say about the company, why would you be interested in working with them? Only by researching the company can you identify keys to their success. Always balance your research by visiting a location whenever possible.

C. A genuine positive attitude is crucial. Describing positive events and achievements in your career, education, or personal life show how you'll interact with current employees. Being superficial, phony or negative will eliminate you from consideration. Skilled interviewers can spot a fake in an instant!

D. Interviewers generally use soft or subtle questions to determine if a candidate will stay with the company. After all, why spend all this time and money to hire someone who will leave after a few months on the job? "Why are you looking? Or What are you looking for in a new job? are both questions that probe this subject. A candidate must indicate long term intentions. For example, an answer that mentions positive aspects of previous employment, and indicates a desire for even better opportunities is appropriate. Certainly, expressing an interest in career path opportunities sends a message of greater commitment than merely saying you're interested only in the current position for which you are interviewing.
2. You've got to know the rules to play the game. While each interview may take on a life of its own, particularly if you are well-prepared and able to make a convincing case for yourself, certain ground rules are standard. Here are a few do's and don'ts.
A. The human resource department of every organization is charged with screening or qualifying candidates. You should cheerfully establish a rapport and cooperate with human resource representatives. If requested to fill out an application, do so carefully and completely. Take care that dates on your resume and the application match exactly. Inconsistency sends up a red flag. Under no circumstance should you say that "all this information is on my resume." Do you really think the human resource rep doesn't know that already?

B. Maintain a positive attitude and take responsibility for presenting your accomplishments and achievements in a terse, strong manner. You should take the initiative to present what you have learned from past mistakes, rather than allow the interviewer to surface problems. For example, you should say that I now have the maturity to see that both the company and myself will benefit from a long term relationship. Interview with confidence, and do not make excuses for past poor performance.

C. No jokes! The bottom line here is that you have a greater chance of offending someone than making them laugh. Did you here the one about the guy who didn't get an offer because he told a tasteless joke?

D. Do not discuss your personal problems. Focus on job responsibilities and your abilities to contribute to the company.

E. When asked to expand on your answer to a question, mention specifics like fixed and variable costs, net profit, sales percentage increase, names of people who mentored you, people whom you developed. These add validity to your presentation.

F. When the interview is over, it's over. Accept that the interviewer's time is valuable and not to be wasted in social chit chat. Exit gracefully, thanking the interviewer for the opportunity and acknowledging everyone else who assisted you in the process, including the receptionist.

G. Make specific notes that summarize the interview within 30 minutes. These notes form the basis for the mandatory thank you note you will write and mail or e-mail that evening. There is no acceptable reason for not writing a thank you note.
3. To Win, Eliminate These Common Errors. Remember that your interview is a business meeting, and your purpose is to persuade the company to make you an offer.
A. Don't underestimate your competitors! Never think for one moment that the company has no other choices. One of the human resource rep's objectives is to identify several qualified candidates. Presenting only one candidate to the hiring authority does not reflect nearly as well on human resource as presenting several. Therefore, be mindful that other candidates with the same skill sets as yours are likely to be interviewing for the position in which you have an interest.

B. Don't think your resume is a selling tool! You must verbally market yourself and convince each person in the interviewing process that you are worthy of an offer.

C. Don't think that the hiring authority is the only important person in the process. While others may not have the ability to make the offer, they each intrinsically have a veto vote. A careless remark to an administrative assistant or receptionist could end up being a deal-breaker.

D. Don't ask what's in it for me questions. Until you get the offer, there's nothing in it for you! You should focus on what you can contribute to the company. Your research should have already revealed the general financial parameters and benefits that go with the position. A review of those issues will only be appropriate after you have received an offer.

E. Don't be boastful or modest. Discussing accomplishments without indicating others contributed to your success indicates unwillingness to share success with others. Given the team-building culture of most organizations, sharing success with others is a key personality trait employers seek. On the other hand, failing to point out the importance of your contribution to a team effort makes you appear to be a follower rather than a leader. Companies are not looking for sheep!
4. I'll Ask the Questions, You'll Give Me Your Answers! Remember that your role in the interview is primarily to answer questions. When challenging questions arise, an experienced interviewer can quickly sense stalling tactics that indicate a lack of preparation. Repeating the question, fidgeting and answering a question with a question are tactics that speak to a lack of readiness. Some questions are so difficult that they warrant review before starting the actual preparation process. Here are some "tough" questions, some of which will surely be posed during your interview.
A. Tell me a little bit about yourself. This is the typical ice breaker question that starts most interviews. This is not an invitation to tell your life story, but a call for three or four statements of highlights. This is a transition to the interview, not the real deal. This is the "let's get comfortable with one another period." Do not expound.

B. Why are you interested in our company? This is a probing question. How you answer indicates how you prepared for the interview. You should specifically mention several things that demonstrate you've invested time in the research process. For example, "My research has shown that your company is the growth leader in the casual segment of companies with 200 operations or more. The fact that XYZ Investments is a partner in the funding of your growth plans indicates you've met challenging criteria. Since I am looking for a long term opportunity that will reward top performance, your company is very attractive to me." Contrast this with "I've heard some good things about your company" or "My recruiter said you were interested in my resume."

C. Why are you considering leaving your current company? Again, this is a probing question. The interviewer is looking for an indication that you intend to build a career at his/her company. This is the time to say what positive experiences you've had at your present company, and how you've grown as a consequence. Do not say negative things about your current company. You should tell the interviewer that you are looking for a better career opportunity. While every company has its pluses and minuses, including the company with which you are interviewing, expressing negative feelings is deadly.

D. How do you feel about working overtime? It's unlikely the company expects everybody to work overtime every day. This question is probing to see if you are a clock watcher, or if you'll occasionally meet a deadline that requires extra effort and time. A good answer is that you think it's reasonable to expect that some projects will require an extraordinary commitment, and that you've learned a great deal by participating in such efforts in the past.

E. Are you willing to travel? Flexibility and honesty are the keys to answering this question. If you are open to occasional travel, you should say so. If excessive travel has placed a burden on your family in previous jobs, don't indicate that you're willing to be on the road 50 percent of the time. You would just be setting yourself up for failure. On the other hand, if travel fits well with your lifestyle, you should let the interviewer know that. The interviewer may be asking this as a career track question. Perhaps future growth opportunities require more travel.

F. Will you relocate? This may be another career track question. You should already know if the position for which you are interviewing is local or not. Indicating a willingness to relocate for a great opportunity is a reasonable answer.

G. What questions do you have? This is the time to ask probing questions about company plans to identify places where you would be able to contribute. "In which areas of the country will you be developing your new stores?" is a good question. Or, "Tell me about how you develop work teams here at the XYZ company." Or, "Do you see any project teams in which my skills could add value for the company?" This is not the time to any questions that are not job-related.

H. What are your salary expectations? This is not a "trick" question. Your research should have surfaced what the salary range is for the position, and you shouldn't be interviewing if the salary is unacceptable. A good answer is that "I am currently making x with the ABC company, and I'm looking for a better opportunity. I consider career path, benefits, location and so on as part of the overall package, not just salary."
5. Gather Information, Prepare Your Plan, Practice, Practice, Practice. By now you've figured out, you're going to need to do more and know more than your competitors to get the offer you're seeking. But more than that, you're dependent upon your interviewing skills being more impressive than your competitors.

A. Gather as much intelligence as you can about the position in which you have an interest and the company with which you are interviewing. Historically, the library has been a great resource. Today using a computer is the best choice. If you know the company Web site address, simply go to it. If not, use key words until you find it. Bookmark the site so you can come back to it with ease. A company Web site contains a library of information including: general job descriptions, salary ranges; benefits; press releases; financial reports; profiles of key executives; investment information; store locations; company newsletters; community outreach programs, and much more. Bear in mind that the site is a marketing tool for the company and shows it in the best light it can, so balance your information by visiting competitors sites, reviewing current news in magazines and periodicals. The Schools Hot-Links Web site, contains links to numerous industry sites, including leading hospitality companies and organizations. Bookmark this site. Review the entire site to identify which resources are appropriate for your search. Be sure to take an electronic visit to the National Restaurant Assn. Web site via the link on Schools Hot-Links. Here you'll find a wide breadth of industry information, including a listing of industry publications. This is a vital stage in the interviewing process and demands significant quality time.

B. Analyze and master key facts about the company. Think about this: This is one of the most important business meetings you'll ever have. Shouldn't you be as well-prepared as you can possibly be? A command of information about the company makes you comfortable that you are choosing a company in which you can perform well and excel. Another benefit is your ease in expressing knowledge about the company to whomever interviews you makes a very favorable impression. Lastly, remember your competitors? They are doing this to get ready just like you. Whomever masters the information will have the best chance at getting the offer. Don't let a competitor out-work you!

C. Prepare a list of questions that you expect the interviewer to ask. Refer back to the previous sections, and prepare to answer all the questions identified, including the most difficult ones. Write down the questions and your answers. Practice answering these questions. Use a buddy, a video cam, a mirror and so on. If possible record a dry run of your mock interview and look for ways to improve your presentation skills. You'll build confidence with each practice session. We suggest you start by doing this in a familiar setting and then graduate to one in which you are at least somewhat uncomfortable. On interview day, you'll most likely be visiting the firm for the first time, so practicing in an unfamiliar environment will make that transition easier for you. The goal of practicing is not to memorize "canned" answers, but to make you at ease so you can answer questions in a natural manner.

D. Prepare a list of questions that you will ask the company. Prioritize these questions so that your most important ones are asked. We suggest no more than five questions, none of which should me the "what's in it for me type." Here are a few examples:

1. Could you describe what traits make a person successful here at the ABC company?
2. What would the training entail that would prepare me for my first assignment?
3. Do you have a mentor program here and how does it work?
4. What community service projects does the company support?
5. Though I understand the responsibility to perform in whatever position you might offer, could you tell me about the typical career path someone like me would follow? Based upon outstanding performance, where should I expect to be in five years? In ten years?

These questions indicate a long term interest in the company. During this facet of the interview, you may get answers that increase or decrease your interest in the company. It's important to remember that you are interviewing to get an "offer," not to agree to take the job. You may get better or worse answers at another company. When you've interviewed with a number of companies you'll compare offers. In the very beginning, we said we are looking for the "near-perfect" company, just as the company is looking for the "near-perfect" employee. Utopia and Eden are concepts! Reality is that every company and every candidate has pluses and minuses.

E. Develop criteria and a scorecard. Before you go to an interview, you must develop a weighted list of what would you consider the vital statistics to help you determine which of your "offers" is best. We'll identify twenty criteria to consider. Pick out ten of these and decide which is most important and which is least. Assign a total point score of 100. Your top criteria may be worth 20 points and your tenth 2. All together these must add up to 100. Here are some criteria:

• Independent decision-making encouraged
• Mentoring program for new hires
• Continuing education
• Encourages a balanced life style
• Work site close to residence
• Salaries equal to industry standard
• Annual reviews based on performance
• Opportunity to travel
• Opportunity for independent work
• Group projects
• Recognition programs for top performers
• High level of activity required
• Social interaction
• Medical benefits
• 401 K
• Leader in its segment
• High-growth company
• Turnaround company
• Measured, sustained growth company
• Stock options. You'll use this scorecard later to grade your offers. What's a great grade? Anything 90 or over is "near-perfect."

F. Plan how you physically present yourself for the interview. Business attire is the order of the day. Women should wear a skirted suit or dress with a matching jacket, neutral-shaded sheer hose, and pumps. A minimum amount of make-up is appropriate. A woman should carry either a purse or a briefcase. Men should wear a conservative business suit, white shirt, contrasting tie, polished dress shoes, over-the calf socks and a belt that matches the shoes. While long hair and body-piercings are socially acceptable, they are not in order here. You need to look your professional best. Your competitors will.

G. You can't afford a bad reference! You should contact potential references to insure they will speak favorably on your behalf. Share how important a good reference would be to your chances of receiving an offer. Ask them candidly if they feel comfortable being your advocate. If they are hesitant, find someone else! Four or five references, business and personal, will be sufficient in most cases. Obtain current phone numbers where the references prefer to be contacted and times when they are most likely to be available. Note all this on your reference list. If you do not want a current or prior boss contacted, you should say so up front.

H. Plan to go to the interview alone and arrive early. Take four additional copies of your resume with you, a list of references, and your list of questions. This is all about demonstrating confidence and interest, and getting comfortable in unfamiliar surroundings. Allow time to fill out an application or other paperwork. Your resume and whatever paperwork you fill out must match. Use a copy of your resume as a guide in filling out forms. You want to be at ease and confident. Remember to be kind and sincere to the receptionist. She has veto power.

I. Allow ample time for interviewing with several people. In many cases today, team-hiring is the norm. It is not unusual to interview with your perspective boss, a potential peer, a human resource manager and the chief executive of the firm. If you do not allow time for a series of interviews, you will be at a disadvantage to competitors. Plus, when you say you have another commitment, the company automatically feels devalued. Aren't they the focus of your attention? They must be today.

6. Show Your Stuff! No two interviews are the same. Here we'll review some typical scenarios. It is common for interruptions and changes to occur during the interview cycle. Handling these changes calmly reflects on how you might handle yourself in similar circumstances with the company. Remember, you are on stage!

A. Arrival. Generally speaking you'll meet the receptionist first. You should volunteer why you are here and with whom you have an appointment. Expect to wait and to possibly fill out forms requested by human resources.

B. Lights, camera, action, Smile! Your next contact will most likely be someone from personnel, an administrative assistant to the hiring authority, or the even the hiring authority himself. A look into the other person's eyes, a firm handshake, an enthusiastic hello followed by "I'm Mary Doe" is appropriate. Eye contact is essential throughout the entire interview cycle. The next step could be testing, meeting several members of the team, or simply a walk back to the interviewer's office. The best approach here is only to respond to someone who initiates a conversation.

C. Most interviews are comprised of a chronological section and a topical section. The chronological interview is a review of your job history from most recent position backwards to your earlier work, education, and so on. In most cases, this process should take less than 10 minutes. A solid command of your resume will keep this moving, but remember, your resume is not your selling tool! Your objective is to get to the most critical aspect in the entire process, the topical interview, and getting to the topical interview is controlled by the candidate! A simple question such as "Mary, what will my first assignment be at the ABC Company ?" is appropriate. The idea is to transition from focusing on what you've done in the past to determining how your skills match up to the needs of the company. The interviewer welcomes this assertive approach. Unless the candidate seizes the initiative, the interview can become bogged down, and all of your preparation to present yourself is wasted. There is a rhythm to the interview, and both parties sense when things are not moving along on a comfortable pace. To get an offer the candidate must take responsibility for presenting his case. This can only happen during the topical interview.

D. The Topical Interview. The topical interview is the most strategic aspect of the entire process. Mastery of this main element is critical. During this stage, you will find out what is expected of you. You must convince the interviewer that you either have all of the skills required or are highly capable of learning whatever skills you may currently lack. You must draw upon your prepared scenarios in a confident, natural way. Appearing to be manipulative or reciting "canned" speeches is counter-productive, and will work against you.
The topical interview. The question "Mary, what will my first assignment be at the ABC company?" is a strategic probe designed to identify your initial responsibilities. The interviewer will be forthright on what the duties of the position are. Bear in mind that she already has a good idea that you fit the assignment or she wouldn't be spending time interviewing you. Your job is to reinforce her decision. You do this by relating the required activities to your previous experiences or knowledge of the topic.

For example, if the interviewer said: "We take a team approach to project management here at the ABC Company. You would be expected to participate in such groups immediately and be able to lead teams within six months." Your response must include examples of your participation as both a leader and a participant. A key here is not to use the word "follower." Relate how all team members made valuable contributions to the project and specifically cite two or three. This indicates you understand all team members are responsible for contributing.

Another activity is the financial management of the business. For example, the interviewer relates: "As the district manager, you will be responsible controlling budgets, including variable costs. We expect our supervisors to both anticipate expenses and take pro-active measures to address deficiencies. Since this position reports to the vice president of operations, she expects a time and action plan to address both opportunities and challenges on a monthly basis." This is a great opportunity to demonstrate your business acumen. Use examples, including real numbers and people, to discuss how you and your team improved variable costs such as food cost, beverage cost, labor cost, energy cost, paper cost, and so on. This is a perfect time to give credit to supervisors, peers, and direct reports who made valuable suggestions, demonstrating leadership that cuts across a number of levels. Suggest you also have found that building sales is a key to reducing costs as well. Relate steps you and your team took to improve sales. These could be as simple as implementing a standard that floor supervisors must visit with every customer to thank them for their patronage, or describing a local marketing plan and its success.

As the candidate, you must ask "what else" questions throughout the topical interview. Your purpose here is to present your credentials as completely as possible. Your research into the company and your anticipation of likely questions should have prepared you for the topical interview. Be assured that all the "tough" questions will be surfaced, though they may appear in a different form or context. You can help the interviewer by volunteering answers to these questions during your presentation. In the financial area, for example, you could begin your answer by saying: "One of things that made me interested in your company is that you increased existing store sales and profits during your expansion. So, I knew I would fit in here because I think that's really important. Here's how I've worked on those P & L issues in the past."

Remember the overtime question? You can take a proactive approach there as well. In that same financial area, you could say: "The financial management of the business is an area where I excel. My personal method is to spend quality time away from the operations in a quiet environment so I can concentrate on comparing the variable costs of similar locations. This extra effort has always paid off. For example, ... I still held the standard monthly meetings, but this extra time enabled me to make some positive suggestions to my direct reports." Does that sound like someone who watches the clock? No way.

To summarize, during the topical interview, keep the conversation positive, and answer each question as completely as you can. There will not be a second chance. Indicate you have a long term interest in the company, and that you would enjoy working with the person with whom you are interviewing. Answer all questions honestly and in a positive fashion, using simple words like will and can, not idea words such as perhaps or might. Lastly, ask for the offer! That's why you came here, right?

E. Ask for the offer. This is the closing part of the topical interview. Tuning in to the rhythm of the interview, both parties sense the time has come to conclude the interview. The candidate must take the initiative here, just as in the transition from chronological to topical interview. A simple question such as: "Do you think I am qualified for the position?" indicates you feel you have presented your case convincingly. Though the interviewer may answer in a variety of ways, the most likely of which is that she will be interviewing additional candidates, you should say that you really feel that you are well-qualified for the position, you think the job is perfect, and you would like to have the job. Thank the interviewer for her time and tell her you look forward to working with her in the future. Her response will be to close the interview. This may mean you will now be interviewing with another person, or that the process is complete. You should approach the ensuing interviews in this same manner. If the interview is complete, you should exit with a statement that is positive. Restate that you can do the job and that you will contribute to the company. Thank the interviewer, and then the receptionist as you leave.

F. Company Evaluation. Within 30 minutes of completing the interview, use your scorecard to grade the company and the position. If the location of the position is perfect, you should put the maximum number of points in that matrix slot. Fill in the scorecard for every criteria and total the points. This is the overall score.

G. Write a Thank You Note. Your note or notes should indicate that upon review your interest in the position has gotten stronger, and you are confident you will contribute to the success of the company. Thank the interviewer and say you look forward to visiting with her again soon.

H. Only you know what points you failed to mention, or which parts of the interview did not go as well as you anticipated. This is not about second-guessing what occurred! This is to insure that your next interview is even better than this one. The interviewer did not prepare for the interview to the extent that you did. She has no idea of what you left out, and is judging you purely by what happened during the interview. Do not leave out an evaluation of such non-verbal signals, including body language. Did you look directly into the eyes of the interviewer? Was your handshake firm and confident? Did you take a seat before the interviewer had settled into hers? These are all cues that you should review. Identify areas for development and work on them while they are fresh in mind.

7. I Got the Offer, Now What? Congratulations! It's over, or is it? If you've done a good job, you should have more than one offer from which to choose. Or, you may not yet have received all offers and are not ready to make a decision. If you've got all the offers in hand, you should be able to use your scorecard to point you in the right direction. One caution here. Use the scorecard, not the personality of people, you met to determine your choice! You will be working for the company, not just the person. A common error is to identify a mentor, join a company, and then find the mentor receives a promotion, transfers or even joins another company. In your criteria, you most likely included a score for this issue, so don't count it twice. Secondly, if the offer is deficient in a specific area, there may be an opportunity to negotiate. Before accepting or declining, you should explore what options may be available. One suggested approach is: "I am really interested in joining the ABC Company, and I think your overall offer is fair. I would, however, like to ask if there is room to negotiate on some minor issues." This sounds much better than: "Comparing your offer to others, your salary offer is $2,000 less than others I am considering." If you are truly interested in the ABC Company, the first statement conveys that interest. The second statement sends a message that you are concerned about salary at the onset, perhaps sending a negative message. If, however, your research shows that the offer is in low in the range of salaries for this position, it would be perfectly okay to approach the salary issue, just do it differently. You could actually use the first example as a way to transition to the salary issue! Read the first example! Now salary has become a "minor issue," not a stumbling block!

If you are waiting on other offers, you should tell the person making the offer that you are not ready to make your final decision. You must ask if there is a deadline for making the decision. How do you do this? "Mary, working for the ABC Company is one of the most important decisions I will ever make. I would like additional time to review your offer, so I can make the best decision. I understand you are probably interested in other candidates as well, so I do not want to ask for an unreasonable amount of time. Do you feel that it is reasonable for me to give you a decision by the fifteenth of this month?" Mary will give you a specific answer. She may even volunteer that there is room to negotiate if that is what is keeping you from making a commitment. Mary also is intrinsically aware that you are on a job search and suspects you are interviewing with other companies. Being considered by other companies is healthy for everyone involved. Be honest in this process. Do not attempt to "extort" additional money or benefits. You will lose the offer.

What happens with the other companies, once I have set a deadline with the ABC Company? You will need to be proactive Check your scorecard. In which companies are you truly interested when compared to the company that has made an offer? Which ones are now out of consideration?

First call the companies in which you have an interest. "I am very interested in the XYZ Company, and am eager to receive your offer. As you may already know, I am interviewing with several companies, one of which has made an offer. I want to make the best decision possible, in a reasonable amount of time. I really believe I could contribute to the XYZ Company. Do you know if I will be receiving an offer shortly?" Jane at the XYZ Company will understand. Her response may be that you have been excluded from consideration and you will be receiving a rejection notice shortly. She may say that she will be unable to make an offer until after the fifteenth. Or she may say they will reach a decision within a couple of days. You will have to base your response upon her comment, but be prepared for all of these scenarios. The reason you make these calls first, rather than call those in which you do not have an interest, is that rocks may turn into diamonds. What if the companies in which you have the greatest interest are not interested in you? Perhaps this puts the others back in play. Follow this method exactly.

Only when you've received all offers and made your decision do you eliminate companies. It is standard practice to call each company after you've made your choice. Thank them for the opportunity and tell them you enjoyed meeting with them. Tell them after careful consideration, you have taken a position with another company. Do not tell them the name of the company.

8. "Woe is me." Now what? What happens when the company that has the best "score" rejects you for another candidate. It's really over then, right? Maybe, and maybe not. Sometimes it turns out that you may not be the first choice, but you still get the job! Suppose the candidate they choose doesn't work out for some reason. You could still get an offer. Or, perhaps, you weren't right for this specific position, but you may be perfect for another. Here's a suggested approach: "Mary, I really want to work for the ABC Company. I would appreciate being considered for other opportunities with your company in the future. Do you feel that I have the skills to work for the ABC Company?" This opens the door for future opportunities and tells Mary that if her current choice doesn't work out, she should contact you. Do not expect Mary to risk any liability by telling you why you didn't get the offer. She may say: "This was a very difficult decision, and I hope you understand." It may or may not have been difficult.

You need to concentrate on getting your other offers lined up and checking your scorecard. Don't tell me you didn't get any offers! You must not have followed the road map!