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The Skip Lead Interview: Tips for Making a Strong Impression

ai practice interviews interview advice interview tips practice interviews ai Jul 01, 2024

Interviewing with your potential skip lead, the manager of your prospective manager, is becoming more and more common. Having success in this type of interview, often referred to as a "skip-level interview," is critical if you want to land the job. In this blog post, we will delve into how you can prepare and crush this interview!

Logistics:

Timing: Skip level interviews are typically scheduled as the final step in the interview process. This is a strong indication that the organization is excited about you, at this point in the process they are not going to waste the skip lead's time unless they are strongly considering you for the position.

Duration: These interviews are usually brief, often lasting around 30 minutes or less. Keep this in mind while preparing, as it will influence how you structure your responses and the questions you will ask.

Know Your Audience:

Understanding your audience is key to preparing effectively for any interview. Your point of contact (POC), whether it is a Recruiter or hiring manager should be able to provide you with valuable insights into the skip lead's expectations and interview style. Here are some questions you should consider asking your POC:

  • Interview Purpose: What is the primary goal/objective of the skip lead in this interview?
  • Interview Style: How does the skip lead typically conduct interviews? Is their approach more formal or conversational?
  • Question Types: What types of questions does the skip lead usually ask? Do they focus on behavioral, hypothetical, technical, or all three types of questions?
  • Focus Areas: Are there specific areas or themes the skip lead tends to emphasize, such as leadership, problem-solving, or conflict resolution for example?
  • Response Preferences: Does the skip lead prefer detailed answers or concise responses? Do they like to probe deeply into answers or prefer to cover a wide range of topics?

These questions will help you tailor your preparation and help you exceed the skip lead's expectations.

Themes and Research:

Building on the insights gathered from previous interviews and your POC, focus on two key areas:

Major Themes: Identify the recurring themes that have emerged as important for success in the role and the organization throughout your other interviews. This includes understanding the team's short- and long-term goals of the overall company, and the specific product area you would be working in.

Industry Trends: Stay informed about industry trends and how they might impact the organization and the role you are applying for, this knowledge can also be valuable during this interview.

Preparation:

Regardless of the insights you gather, thorough preparation remains essential. Given that this interview is likely a make-or-break moment, it is crucial to double down on all aspects of your preparation, including:

Behavioral Examples: Refine your examples for common behavioral questions.

Hypothetical Responses: Prepare for hypothetical questions by practicing clarifying questions, frameworks, and working on your pre-planned assumptions.

Technical Skills: Refresh and fine-tune any domain-specific or technical skills relevant to the job.

Utilizing generative AI tools like ChatGPT can be a valuable part of your preparation. For instance, you can input the job description and ask for potential questions a skip lead might ask, and practice your responses to those questions.

Your Questions:

At the end of any interview, you will typically have the opportunity to ask questions. In a skip-level interview, this part can come sooner than expected. Be prepared with at least 20 well thought out questions. It is perfectly acceptable to let the skip lead know you have a list of questions, demonstrating your preparedness and organizational skills.

Start with questions about the interviewer to build rapport and positivity:

  • What do you love about the company?
  • What do you love about your role?
  • What do you love about your team?
  • A great follow-up question is, "How can I help you?" This shows that you are a team player and are eager to contribute to the overall success of the organization.

Then, pivot to more challenging questions that you have prepared, ensuring you cover all important aspects of the role and the team.

Final Tip: Default to Listening:

In a skip level interview, it is often advantageous to let the skip lead do most of the talking. Active listening will always work in your favor. When the skip lead speaks more, they are likely to develop a more favorable impression of you.

Conclusion:

Skip level interviews are a critical part of the hiring process, and proper preparation can make all the difference. By understanding the logistics, knowing your audience, researching themes, thoroughly preparing, asking insightful questions, and focusing on listening, you can increase your chances of success. Good luck!

For more resources visit my website - Practice Interviews and check out our AI Practice Interview App. 

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