Job Interview Rules

How to Interview

by Duane Ausherman

In my youth, I had a roommate who was a job recruiter.  His challenge was finding qualified candidates to offer to prospective employers.  He asked me to go out on interviews for jobs that I didn’t want because he needed to show that he had good people available.  He was having trouble finding qualified candidates, and he felt that this would add to his credibility.

I wasn’t working at the time, so I agreed and went on several job interviews.  I had to feign interest in the job, but that was easy.  Since I had no interest in the jobs, this was a chance for me to experiment.

I would interview them.  I would ask in-depth questions about the industry, the current market, and just about anything that was of interest.  Since this was way out of the “culture” of the usual interview, I just knew that this was going to discourage the interviewer, and while I would be qualified technically, I would be disqualified emotionally.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.  In every case, I stood out as a stellar candidate.  Since I didn’t want the job, I wasn’t fearful at all.  That alone was unusual to the interviewer.  Since I interviewed them with questions, they were impressed because they had rarely experienced such an attitude.

Every employer offered me a position.  A couple of interviewers halted the interview and brought back a different person to continue the interview.  I was being interviewed for a higher position than the original.

This whole experience was an epiphany for me.  I continued to use that attitude for the rest of my life, and it has held me in good stead.

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To the question, “What is your salary requirement?”  I always answer it this way.  “I trust that you will offer me a fair market value amount that is consistent with the value that I will give.”  This way, I haven’t committed myself. 

About ½ of the time, I have been offered more than I was willing to take.  I never accept the first offer.  I always toss in a few nonsalary items to see if they are willing to negotiate.

In 2008 my mother was in a rest home and dying from a stroke.  I was approached by a person that I will call John, with whom I barely knew, to do a certain job on cell towers, known as cell sites.  They wanted me to start the next week. 

I asked for these things;

A month delay to go to my mother’s funeral and take care of family issues.  It is hard to deny that one.

Mileage expenses starting from my home and back again. The culture usually required the first 75 miles to be free.

Would I get the freedom to work more than the usual 60 hours per week, but only as needed?

Give me either a company cell phone or an allowance to pay for one. John gave me all four items.  He gave me a $ 1.50-an-hour add-on to pay for the phone.  It applied to every hour, including overtime. 

What I didn’t know at the time, but later learned, is that my first meeting with John, a couple of years earlier, had started an investigation into a corrupt contractor that was cheating AT&T on materials used on the job.  That investigation resulted in a 50 million dollar settlement to AT&T.  No, I didn’t get any whistleblower commission. 

Because I had risked my job and health to expose the cheaters, I had established my penchant for honesty with John.  The claim of my health risk was because the boss of the corrupt firm was stupid enough to threaten me with violence in front of another worker.  The worker confirmed my claim, and that boss was chased completely out of the west coast market.

I suggest the following;

Go to every interview possible, just for practice.  The interviewer needs to get certain information from you, that is their job, and you should make it easy.  Remember, your goal is to interview them.  You should have three serious questions ready for the interviewer.

I always insist on meeting the person who will be my direct boss.  We may not get along.  I have often found that the posted job description has little to do with what my immediate boss wants.  This is a good way of discovering this ahead of time.

No matter the offer, always put in delay time.  I would say, “I may have other offers pending and would need some time to balance which offer is best for both parties.”  It is common, at that point, to get at least 48 hours to decide.  Discovering that you may be getting other offers makes them even more anxious to get you.

Never ask about the retirement plan.  It is appropriate to ask for a copy of the URL for the employee booklet.  This will tell you the various options relating to vacations, retirement, etc.  You should find this information online before the interview.  Then ask a question that shows that you did your research first.

You must be prepared to answer this question, “What did you do to prepare for this interview?”  You better be able to explain your research of the firm, and I suggest the Linkedin listing of the department head.  You must read the Mission Statement.  Say what you liked about the Mission Statement.  Explain that you drove in the previous day to check out the parking situation.  Your car better be perfectly clean and tidy, as seen from the outside.  Point out that you arrived 15 minutes early to fill in any questionnaire given to you by the receptionist.  You need to have a better answer than any other candidate ever offered.

I always comment that the interviewer may not see that I am a good fit for the job but may see that I would fit in another department even better. This shows confidence in a subtle way.


Because I have already retired a long time before the interview, I can’t show a chronological listing of my work.  It would be full of blank spaces.  My resume shows the tasks and results of jobs that are relevant to the possible position.

Keep the resume short.  At the bottom, I always have 2-3 items that show my personal interests.  Typically, I list Ham Radio, my private pilot’s license, and world travel.  Ham Radio has been the most useful, as many people have a favorite uncle who is a Ham.  Once the interviewer starts asking about “personal interests,” you have a very positive sign.  I have had interviewers who spent more time discussing personal interests than the job requirements.

Updated 30 March 2023