124 The Link Up with Latesha : Turning Interviews Into Business Meetings

On the eighth installment of The Link Up with Latesha, our incredible host Latesha Byrd, founder of Byrd Career Consulting, helpfully informs us of one technique to use in our interviews to ensure that we have a great one – turning them into business meetings.

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Latesha: What’s up, everyone? Welcome to The Link Up with Latesha. I am your host Latesha Byrd, and this podcast is for young professionals that need some real deal advice, tips, and resources to navigate corporate America and dominate their career. If you’re looking to upgrade your brand, get the knowledge you need to level up professionally for your future, you are in the right place. I’m here with Living Corporate, and today we’re talking about one technique to use in your interview to have a bomb in-ter-view. The number one challenge I see with people doing well in the interview is not being confident. Lack of confidence will have you in an interview sweating, nervous, looking unprepared, just looking like you’re not ready and you’re not a good fit for the job. If you are not confident in yourself and in your abilities, why would you think the interviewer would be confident? You can have a bomb resume – I’m talking about with MBA here, Master’s degree here, you know, years of experience, all of these skills and qualifications, you’ve led teams, but if you go into this interview and you are acting scared [laughs] or you’re shy or you’re timid, that interview is not going to go over well. I have so many clients and people that reach out to me every day. If you’ve been listening to this podcast, then you know I’m a career coach. I have so many folks that reach out to me because they’re like, “I don’t know why I’m not getting the job. I’m getting the interview. My resume is great,” but then we actually do interview coaching and they’re nervous, and I’m like, “Wait, what happened to this person with all of this great experience on paper?” And when we talk to you in person it’s completely, completely different. You cannot walk into these interviews acting shy or scared or timid. You have to be confident, you have to be bold, and you have to walk in there like you know what the hell you’re doing. So how can you do this? And this kind of brings me to the tip I wanted to share today. Start turning the interview into a normal business meeting. That starts with being solutions-focused and also showcasing or demonstrating that you are a problem solver. I had one of my client students, she was interviewing for an internal role – now, it will be a little easier to do something like this if you are interviewing for an internal role, but you can still do it if you’re new to that company. So she works in learning and development for–excuse me, she is an instructional designer for a university, and she was interviewing for a promotion, and she went into the interview, she turned it into a normal business meeting, and by the end of it she asked, “So what are our next steps in the interview process?” And the interviewer looked at her and said, “Oh, my gosh. I forgot this was an interview.” Y’all, this is a really positive and great thing, so I wanted to provide just some quick tips on how you can start to do this, and I want you all to think about how you actually plan and prepare and facilitate meetings in your current job. #1, you go into this meeting with an agenda. What is your agenda? What are the topics of discussion, right? What are those things that you need to know? Things about the company, things about the position, things about the person that you are talking to. I’d say the most important thing with an agenda is having an actual purpose, right? So what is the purpose of you going into this interview? And don’t think, “Okay, it’s to get the job.” No, no, no. The purpose of you going into the interview is to present yourself as the best possible candidate for this role, and you want to think through how to do that. Of course you will need to review the job description in detail. What I recommend is going through the job description line by line by line, and for each responsibility you need to have some clear examples in your current or previous experience in how you demonstrated and how you demonstrated those responsibilities. What else do you do? You need to understand the challenges. Again, you need to make sure you are solutions-focused. Make sure you’re solutions-focused in this interview, and that will come with understanding that team’s challenges, understanding that company’s challenges. You can turn it into a meeting by making it a conversation and asking questions throughout the interview and not asking questions like, “Well, tell me about the day-to-day here,” or, you know, “What is the culture like?” Ask some hard-hitting questions, such as “Tell me about the biggest challenges your team is facing right now as it relates to X, Y, and Z. Tell me about some of the challenges that you all are having as you implement these new technologies, as you all are going through this merger and acquisition, as you all are working with these clients in this particular industry?” Ask very specific questions. So understand those challenges. Ask what they have tried in the past. So they will tell you what their challenges are. [laughs] I’ve never–in my days as a recruiter, if someone were to ask me, I never had an issue with speaking to that ’cause, like, you know, when we have these challenges at work and you give us a chance to talk about it and complain a little bit, you know? Now, if you are interviewing with someone and they’re like, “Oh, everything’s perfect. We don’t have any challenges here.” Run. Just run. [laughs] Just run. So understand the challenges. Ask what they have tried in the past. Provide recommendations. Now, this is where you’re going to come in as the best candidate for the job, because you are going to be able to ask questions such as “Have you all tried X, Y, and Z?” Right? But you need to actually go into this meeting already kind of knowing what those challenges are. If this is your second interview, your third interview, your fourth interview, best believe you have got to carry forward those conversations that you had in that first, second, or third round interview, because by the time you get to the last round or those couple last rounds, you gotta go in there like you are already on the team. Like, “Put me in the game, Coach. Seriously.” So providing these recommendations, this is where your research comes in. You should be researching information about the company online, asking questions, networking–talking to people that work at that company internally, and it would be great if you knew someone on that team specifically. If you don’t know anyone at the company, you should still try to have these conversations with folks that are in that industry that are in that particular role, even at another company. So this is where networking will come in handy. You have to make sure that you are getting to know professionals that are in your industry, particularly professionals with the job title of the positions that you are going after, and it also would be great to know some leaders and executives in that industry as well. They typically have been around a lot longer. They can tell you some of the trends, things to be mindful of as it relates to the challenges, as it relates to solutions and recommendations on how to move, you know, the team forward that you can use in that interview. So come into the interview with a 30-, 60-day, 90-day plan and get their thoughts on it. You have to completely own it. And, with that being said, I’ll give you all an example. So I am a former recruiter. I spent some years managing recruiting for a public accounting firm headquartered in Charlotte, and I managed recruiting for two offices in Charlotte – an office in New York, an office in Jacksonville, Florida and Tampa, Florida, and I had about seven universities that I managed recruiting for. Now, I’ll tell you all my full story one day of how I got this position. [laughs] I’m gonna save that for another episode because it was by–mm–luck. I don’t even want to say luck. It was because I had proven myself, but I had one particular person that was rooting for me, and that was literally all I needed. But I actually came from the public accounting industry. I was an audit for a Big Four firm. So I didn’t know that much about recruiting, I’ll be honest with y’all. [laughs] I can say that now since I did get the job and I’m not, you know, doing that anymore, but I went into that interview with a whole recruiting strategy, with a whole recruiting plan. I asked very specific questions around “Tell me about your metrics. How do you all measure the success of your recruiting efforts here? How are those metrics being tracked? Who’s tracking those? How is leadership staying engaged with what’s going on as it relates to recruiting? Who is the person responsible for updating leadership? What are some of the loopholes in communications? What are some of the communication challenges with the candidates that you all are recruiting. What are the challenges as it relates to the universities that you are recruiting at?” So by the time I got this information, I would go into the next interview and I would bring up those very same things, but I would bring it up with solutions and ideas and, you know, recruiting ideas and different ways to keep leadership engaged, different ways to keep the universities engaged that will keep the firm at top of mind. So by the time I left those interviews, I literally got a call probably about–I was still in the car. I was still in the car leaving that interview, probably going back to my other job, when I had got the call that said, “Yes, you got the offer.” That’s because I went in there and I owned it and I was confident and I used my network. I talked to a lot of other recruiters, so I knew what it would take to actually be a very strong recruiter and how to add value. So if you’re going into these interviews a little shy and timid, “Well, I don’t know, I just hope I prove myself, and I hope I do a good job, and I don’t want to say anything too crazy,” you know, that, to me, is going to be a lack of confidence. Now, I get it, we want to be humble. We want to show humility, but when you go into that interview, like I said before, you gotta act like you’re already on the team. So what else do you do after the business meeting? You follow up. So follow up as you would a business meeting, you know? “Points that we talked about. Here are some of the challenges we talked about. Here are some of the solutions we talked about, and here are the next steps,” right? And then sometimes we will ask, “Well, can you tell me what the next steps are?” Look, you could say, “Hey, based on what we’ve talked about today, I think these should be our next steps. If I were to step into this role, these are some of the things that I would like to do.” Now, this also needs to come with an agreement, so as you’re giving your recommendations, solutions, ideas, et cetera, you want to make sure that other person–you know, you’re getting that buy-in, so you kind of have to manage or, you know, respond to them based on how they’re responding to you, right? So if you make a recommendation and they say, “Oh, that’s a great idea. Yeah, we should–I like that,” right? That needs to be the main point in your follow-up. So I hope this was helpful. You know, try to restructure these interviews as business meetings. Like I said, be confident. Be bold. Walk in there like you know what you’re doing. Have an agenda. Understand their challenges. Understand what they’ve tried in the past. Provide recommendations. Create a 30-, 60-, 90-day plan and get their thoughts on it. Completely own that interview, and then follow-up. So I hope this all was helpful today. Again, thank you for listening. My name is Latesha Byrd with Living Corporate, and you can find me on social media, Instagram and Twitter, at Latesha, L-A-T-E-S-H-A, underscore Byrd, B-Y-R-D. That’s all we have, and I will talk to you all next week.

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