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Questions to Ask in a "Marathon" Interview Session

Marathon interview sessions are where you are shuffled from one interviewing authority to another. Most of the people you will talk to in a marathon interview setting won't have much to do with the job you are interviewing for. Sometimes they are in the loop of the interview process just so the company can look like it has a thorough interviewing process.

These people may not have a lot of responsibility in the job you are interviewing for, but their big impact on you is that they can say "no" to your being hired. So, you had better make a good impression on them. I have experienced numerous situations over the years where candidates took these interviews for granted because they were with people that had absolutely nothing to do with the job, only to find out that these people nixed their candidacy.

Sometimes the interviewing authorities in the marathon are simply asked to talk to you so it won't look like you were dragged to these "important" interviews to only talk to two people. I assure you that at least half of the people you will "interview" with could probably care less about you or the job you are interviewing for. They will never admit it, but that is the case. So, catch on! If they are going to interview you, they have to have an opinion. If they have an opinion, they will be asked about it. So, you had better make a good impression.

Be ready for some of the people you are supposed to talk with, to, all of a sudden, not be available. Be ready to wait longer than you should for some and end up only meeting a very short time with others. This type of marathons start, stop, get stalled, etc. The time you have with each interviewing authority will dictate how many questions you might be able to ask. As before, you will want to have more questions than you will probably need. The most important question that you have to ask every interviewing authority in the marathon is: Are you going to support my getting the job?

You absolutely have to ask this as a final question of every interviewing authority you talk to. No matter how insignificant you might think any person is in the decision-making process, you have to ask him or her this question.

You can ask other questions of these people, very much like the ones in the preceding scenarios. Questions about the person that get him talking about himself, his opinion about the biggest challenges in the job (providing he is close enough to the job to really know), challenges in the company, etc., are all appropriate.

The most important thing you can do in these interviews is to get your interviewers to commit that they will recommend you for the job. You haven't done your job in the interview unless you get this question answered affirmatively.

You may not get much time with some of these people. Don't be surprised if you are told you will meet with some of these people for an hour or so, and find out that they can only give you fifteen minutes. So, you sometimes need to sell yourself quickly.

Mr. or Ms. (interviewing authority), you are obviously respected by your company. I wouldn't be here if they didn't value your opinion. Is there anything in my background or experience I may need to clarify?

If you get hesitation when you ask the question "Are you going to support me," or the person says something like, "Well, I don't know...it really isn't up to me...it is up to (hiring authority)," or the person says, "Well, we will get together and discuss it." You need to state, in a question form, "You obviously have a hesitation, can you tell me what it is?" If the answer is "yes," then ask the obvious question, "What might I need to clarify?" If the answer is "no," then ask, "What concerns might you have in recommending me?" Most of the time, there won't be any. Some people don't want to commit to you. It isn't that they don't like you. It is that they just don't think they should without the rest of the committee. If they say there are not any concerns, then you can ask the same question another way: "Do you see any reason that you wouldn't recommend I be hired?"

Unless this person simply doesn't like you and totally won't support you, she will likely tell you that she will support you. This doesn't mean by any stretch of the imagination that you are going to get the offer, but this question to each interviewing authority will, at least, keep him or her from standing in your way 95% of the time.

Most good managers—and the higher up the ladder you go, the better— will really appreciate your courage to ask the tough questions. This question puts it all on the line. It doesn't force, but certainly nudges, these decision makers to lean toward recommending you to the hiring authority.

Ninety-nine percent of the candidates you might compete with won't have the courage to ask these questions of every interviewing authority. They will say stupid things like, "Where do we go from here?" "Who else do I need to talk to?" "What do you think?" etc. Soft and namby-pamby! Not a decisive businessperson's approach.

 
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