ProStar Partners, Inc.

Executive search and consulting

Provide top talent expediently and cost effectively, with sensitivity to customers’ needs and an attention to candidates’ goals and aspirations
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"Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand."

Thomas Carlyle

"It is awfully important

to know what is and

what is not your


Gertrude Stein

In-Person Interview

An Applicant’s preparedness can be broken down into three very distinct topics: Skills Preparation, Mental Preparation, and Interviewing Techniques. Each of these topics is equally important in the scope of our objectives.  It is important to pay special attention to each and every point so that it can be adapted to our situations.  The consulting industry does not adhere to any particular placement methodology, but being aware and staying alert can, in the end, allow all of us to benefit. 

Skills Preparation:

There is a commonly accepted misconception that once you had performed successfully at a prior client, that all subsequent projects will be completed with equal amount of competence. Keep in mind that while with one employer you concentrate only on skills used in that environment and "forget" all else.  Each new project should be treated as if you are being hired for the first time. All areas of deficiency must be identified and addressed prior to any interview. 

You should:

§      TECHNICAL SKILLS: Are your technical skills, as they pertain to the new employer’s environment, current? If not, what review steps do you need to take?

§      REVIEW: Review all material related to the technical environment.  There are many details which we all tend to forget.

§      BE PREPARED: Be able to discuss the most complex project you have worked on in a similar environment.

§      CLIENT ENVIRONMENT: Review the client's applications environment.  Be prepared to relate it to your experience. Look for similarities, not differences.

§      PROJECT LIFE CYCLE: Review the tasks and sub tasks contained in a project life cycle. Be prepared to discuss how you would perform each and give examples of prior projects. Be especially prepared to discuss test plans and test methodologies as these are always client hot buttons.

§      DEBUGGING:  Brush up on the steps used to debug programs and complex problems.

§      YOUR BACKGROUND: Review the chronology of your work experience.  One of a client's favorite questions is "Tell me what you've done.”  Keep answers in perspective to the client's needs. 

Mental Preparation:

Every project assignment offers challenges and opportunities.  It is important to project a positive mental attitude.  The following points will help you to portray yourself as mentally alert: 

§      CLEAR THINKING: Ensure that the mind is well rested.  If the interview is in the morning, you should get a good night's rest.  If it is in the day, you should take a 15‑20 minute walk prior to the appointment to purge your mind of other matters.

§      REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS: Every client project has both positive and negative aspects.  You should recognize that both conditions present a challenge and prepare for all opportunities.  "Get yourself up for a new experience".

§      RELAX!! One of the worst things anyone can do is to go into an interview worked up into a ball of nerves.  Most people that are extremely nervous miss the most obvious answers. The only reason you have been presented is because you can do the job.  Everyone is nervous before and during an interview.  You must legitimatize nervousness to yourself. It is important to note that when a person is nervous and the adrenaline is flowing, the person is more attentive and all answers given are crisp and to the point. The danger of being too relaxed is that it will project a cavalier and arrogant demeanor thus undermining the interview.

§      EGO: Everyone has an ego.  You must send yours to the back of the line.  You are bound to be asked questions to which you don’t know the answer.  You must recognize and accept it as a fact of life.

§      POSITIVE THINKING: You should review all the positive things that have occurred in your career as well as your greatest accomplishments.  This will cause you to think positively of yourself and your abilities.  A posture that will show during the interview. 

Interviewing Techniques:

Next the preparation should consist of tips on how to successfully take an interview. The following must be covered: 

§      PUNCTUALITY: If are late, the client will question your work ethic.  If the client is late, show compassion.  He/she is probably a very busy person or may be nervous about the interview.

§      PROFESSIONAL APPEARANCE: You should always wear professional attire. Dark business suit, white shirt/blouse, polished shoes, and be properly groomed.  The wrapping helps sell the package.

§      PROFESSIONAL IMAGE: Start the interview with a firm handshake and a warm smile. Stand and sit straight; don’t slump in the chair; do not fidget; don’t smoke; don’t chew gum; maintain good eye contact.

§      CLIENT'S ENVIRONMENT: You must pay special attention to the client's current environment.  Most interviews start with the question "what do you know about my environment?”  Whether or not the question is asked, look for the opportunity to say "I have been given some details on your assignment and environment; can you explain in your words, what are your primary goals."  This will alleviate some of the interviewer's anxiety by allowing him to talk about something they know well.  At the same time, it indicates interest on your part and gives you the opportunity to mentally relate your experience to the client's needs.

§      LISTEN: Pay special attention to what is being said and address your statements to the points under discussion only.  Nobody likes a rambler.  When unsure about a question, you should ask the interviewer to repeat the question.  Most people are not great communicators so that when rephrasing a question, part of the answer will also be revealed.  This will also show to the client your interest while alleviating the possibility of misunderstanding questions.

§      THINK!!: You should not be afraid to take some time before answering a question.  No one likes an impulsive answer, especially if it is wrong.

§      PRIOR EXPERIENCES: You should never speak negatively about a prior experience or person.  All comments regarding past projects,   employers, subordinates and peers should be kept positive.

§      ASK QUESTIONS: You should ask intelligent questions and stress the business application area.  If a client feels that you are interested in the success of his/her organization, he’ll/she’ll be more inclined to want you on his/her team.

§      TYPE OF WORK: You should never give any indication that a task is beneath you.  You must convey the attitude of being a professional who will react in an equally positive light to all aspects of the job.  If asked about working overtime, doing maintenance tasks, documentation, mundane testing, etc., you should always share these thoughts you’re your recruiter prior to being presented to avoid any discomfort during the interview.

§      BUZZ WORDS: You should always speak simply and explain the terms you use.  You may be more competent than the interviewer and embarrassing the client is disadvantageous.

§      ALCOHOL: If the interview occurs over lunch, you MUST NOT drink, even if the client does.  If the interview occurs after hours,   client's lead should be followed.  If the client does not drink, neither should you.  If the client does, you should limit yourself to one.  You will be sharper and may have already passed one of the tests.

§      QUALIFIERS: Avoid using qualifiers.  Qualifiers are: I did it once, six months ago, only, rusty, etc.  Using qualifiers discounts the answer before you get a chance to show the client how much you really know.  When asked: "Have you done it....?", the answer must be: "Yes I have and this is what I have done.....".

§      YES/NO ANSWERS: When giving answers, you should use full sentences. Yes or No answers do not give the client a full understanding of your knowledge.

§      CORRECT ANSWERS: When answering a question correctly, you should give as complete an answer as you can.  By covering the topic completely you show an ability to recollect information,   exhibits a solid depth of knowledge and most of all maintains a subtle control of the interview by preventing the interviewer from asking any additional questions.  This approach can have a dual affect.  It can really secure the position or may open the doors to a more in‑depth interview.  A perfectly good answer to an in-depth question would be: "I have not been exposed to this level of detail” This answer would divert the interviewer from questions unrelated to your background.

§      INCORRECT ANSWERS: If you do not have the answer to a question, there are two ways of responding to the client.  The first is to say: "No I have not done it." and drop the topic, which is the wrong response.  The right response would be to pause for a few seconds and think back on any and all past projects and liken them to the topic at hand.  This would show the interviewer your ability to draw on your experience, an ability to recollect information, an ability to think and most of all would turn a negative in your background, as it pertains to this project, into a positive.

§      ARGUING: One of the most important rules for taking an interview is NEVER to argue with the interviewer.  If the answer given by you is correct but differs from that of the interviewer than the consultant is "wrong" and the client is "right".  The best way to respond to differing answers is for you to say: "You have just given me a different perspective on this topic.  Whenever I was faced with this problem, I solved it in the way I had described.  When I get back to my office I will try your method.”  This response will have a tremendous impact on the interview.  First, it will attach credibility to the client's knowledge.  Second, if the client realized his mistake then the consultant allowed the client to "save face".  Third, the consultant showed the client an ability to accept ideas other than his own, thus being able to work in a team environment.

§      INSTANT DISLIKE: There are situations where there is instant dislike between you and interviewer.  This is perfectly normal and acceptable.  What is not acceptable is for you to allow yourself to show these emotions to the client.  Let us assume that it was the project and not the client that turned you off.  By conveying your negative feelings to the client you have assured yourself of never working on that client's site while this manager is in its employ.  Leaving the client feeling good about the interview has many positive effects. It assured you the ability to be presented there again, It protects ProStar’s credibility in that we were able to bring in a good candidate; and permits ProStar to bring in the next candidate.  Any and all ill feelings should be conveyed to your recruiter after the interview and allow the recruiter to shut down the process.

§     INSTANT "LOVE": During an interview instant "love" can develop between interviewer and interviewee.  This can be a double edged sword.  Inasmuch as it can be helpful in placing you, it can also undermine the interview.  You can develop a false sense of security thus saying more than is required. What will happen is that you will fail the interview.  It is OK to feel good about the client and the project, what is not OK is to cross the fine line that exists between the interviewer and interviewee.

§      CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS: In an interview, the conversation can frequently move off course.  The interviewer may want to speak on topics totally unrelated to the technologies on the project.  The topics to stay away from would be those that elicit personal opinions, for example: politics, sports, religion, etc.  More than likely the opinions of the interviewer will differ from yours.  The one who would always loose in that discussion would be YOU. The proper way to react, when the conversation broaches those topics, is to acknowledge that the interviewer is speaking and reacting to the interviewer’s mood. For example if the topic covers something positive, the response should be: "This sounds terrific.", and when the topic deals with negative issues, respond by saying: "That is really too bad.”  This way you will carry on a conversation without really expressing your opinions.

§      END OF INTERVIEW: The interview should be finished on an up note.  A warm smile, a firm handshake and a positive comment, such as "I am looking forward to working with you" will complete the interview.

  Interview Prep
The Phone Interview
In-Person Interview


"Nothing focuses the mind better than the constant sight of a competitor who wants to wipe you off the map."

Wayne Calloway