Lessons in Interviewing from ABC’s Shark Tank

Posted March 15, 2012 by Marcy Twete in Career Moves

My husband and I love the show Shark Tank. Every week, we excitedly flip on the TV to watch entrepreneurs receive feedback, constructive criticism and ultimately often real money from the members of the Shark Tank. There are moments of triumph and entrepreneurs you truly get behind, and then there are moments of “OH GOD NO” when you hear an entrepreneur say something that you, as a viewer, know will not fly with “the sharks.” Tim Murphy from over at BrazenCareerist.com is also a big fan of Shark Tank and wrote a phenomenal article on a job search lesson we can all learn from an entrepreneur recently showcased on Shark Tank. Click here to read Tim’s article and the phenomenal interview advice he gives, learning from the pros at Shark Tank.

In the spirit of Tim’s article, I’d like to share with you a few important job search tips I’ve learned from watching Shark Tank:

  1. Preparation is an art, not a science. One of two things will immediately get a shark (or an interviewer) to stop listening. Either you’re clearly not prepared or, conversely, you’re so prepared your answers sound canned. You have to prepare, prepare, prepare for an interview. Have a loved one or friend ask you traditional interview questions, research the company, know a little about the person you’re interviewing with. But don’t go so far as to type out your answers and rely on them. You have to speak with confidence and knowledge, striking a balance with a relaxed, spontaneous nature.
  2. Know who you’re after. One of the regular sharks on Shark Tank is Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks. Recently, a budding entrepreneur came in with an idea for a basketball practice assisting tool. His biggest mistake? He sold equally to all four of the sharks. He should have seen this as an amazing, single opportunity to get to Mark Cuban. His pitch, if directed appropriately at Mark, would have been more successful. The same applies in an interview setting. I’ve seen many an interviewee spend all of their time trying to get the team to like them and seem like a good addition to the employees in the office, all the while forgetting to showcase their hard-hitting leadership skills to higher level members of the interview team. You can’t please everyone in every interview – so please the person who you know matters.
  3. Be open to suggestion. Too many entrepreneurs come into the Shark Tank believing they have all the answers. The ones who get the best partnership offers, though, are those who prove to be open to suggestion and are clearly going to be cooperative partners. When you’re in a job interview, you have to be willing to go in a new direction with your potential company or boss. Especially if the position is a new one, you may have to enter the interview and the first days, weeks, months on board with an open mind. Show your flexibility and you’ll appeal more strongly to the decision makers.

I encourage you all to tune in to Shark Tank on ABC Fridays at 8/7:00central on Friday nights. You might just learn something!

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."