Interview hints from a recruiting pro …the Dos, the Don’ts, and the Don’t Even Think About Its!
As a job seeker, it can be exciting yet daunting when you get a call from one of the companies on the top of your list to set up a job interview with you. In many cases, how you prepare and conduct your first interview, will determine whether or not you close the deal and get the job.
Where to start you ask? How about approaching it as a first date –where instead of getting a second date, you get that second interview, which can then lead to a final job offer.
Here are some basic steps to improving your interviewing skills to land that job you desire:
Do your homework: Just as you would want to do a casual background check on someone you are about to date, a company background check is that and so much more. Start by reviewing their website on the Internet to find out the main headquarters, regional offices and the names of key company representatives. Research recent news on the company and get general information about the industry if you haven’t done so already.
Check out other resources: Hoovers can be a terrific source of information, not only on the company itself but it can also give you industry trends and other information. Also visit Linked In and look up current and past employees –that can be a fantastic place to try to connect with someone who may be able to give you the ‘inside scoop’ on corporate culture, etc.
Dress the part and be prepared: Wear appropriate business attire and always remember, it’s ALWAYS better to be a little over dressed than too casual. No one has ever been accused of being over dressed for an interview, as long as that attire is professional.Also, be sure to turn your cell phone off and bring a pad of paper and pen to take good notes. You can also have a copy of the job description discreetly in your notepad for reference. By studying their job description and requirements beforehand, you can make a point of emphasizing your skills that you want to highlight during your interview, matching to those mandatory requirements. You should do your best to have that job description and requirements virtually memorized prior to your interview.
Bring copies of your resume, along with letters of reference: It can be very powerful to bring printed letters of reference that you can leave, along with copies of your resume. Be sure to bring one for every person you will be meeting with so that they can have it during the interview, and of course you will be leaving them each with a copy. Take the time to print it on nice paper, and always bring extras just in case you are able to meet with additional people. Remember, on your resume, the most effective resumes focus on job accomplishments rather than job descriptions.
Be prepared for the questions that you will be asked: If you have a spotty job history, rest assured you will be asked your reasons for leaving each position, and have ready replies, that are brief and positive. The more you can prepare yourself for a variety of questions, the better you will do in the interview. For example, some sample behavioral questions the interviewer might ask include:
- Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.
- Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills.
- Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or co-worker.
- Give me an example of a time when you motivated others.
Keep in mind, that a question that often can throw a candidate is when the interviewer asks them to describe their worst trait. A great response is to tell the interviewer with a straight face that you have always been accused of being a workaholic or something that is somewhat funny but doesn’t reflect poorly on you – a little humor can be a great thing. Have a good answer for that question, funny is great, but for goodness sake, have an answer in mind. And remember, never interrupt the interviewer!
Prolong any talk of salary: When it comes to money, defer that topic as long as possible. You already know the salary range when you applied for the position or when you were approached for the job. Other than that range, you should not be talking about what it would take to get YOU, until an offer is made. Statistically, we have found that the longer you can put off talking specifics, the more money you will get.
Let them fall in love first, BEFORE you tell them what kind of ring you need: You get the picture…you are not going to open the door for your first date and tell your date that it will take a three carat, unblemished stone, top grade, etc for you to date him or her. In the same way, you do not want to tell the interviewer that you will take the top end of the range and endless benefits to get you interested in the position. We have had candidates do that and it never fails, the entire interview the interviewer is comparing that candidate to others in the pipeline, thinking are they worth it? Are they that much better than the other candidates? Much smarter to focus on making sure the position and corporate culture is a great fit, then sell them on YOU, get the offer and then you can push for more money if desired. But never before the offer. “Let them eat the steak BEFORE you give them the bill.”
Close the deal: You want to end the interview on a positive note. Be sure to thank the interviewer for their time and let them know how you feel about the job and why you are interested in working for their company. Recap main points of why you are qualified for the job and while it can be intimidating at times, ask them directly in a sincere way if the interviewer sees you as a good fit for the position. If they say no, find out the objection and try to overcome it.
If they say yes, ask for the interviewer’s next steps. Lastly, be sure to get a business card from them as well for a correct address to send the thank you card. You always want to send a thank you note to all the persons you interviewed with. Remember, if you want the job, ASK FOR IT!! We always half-jokingly tell candidates not to let their hand touch that doorknob to leave until they have an invitation to come back.
Have an effective follow up plan: If you do not get the offer, be sure to write follow up thank you letters, thanking everyone that interviewed you for their time, and restating your interest in their company. It is a classy thing to do and something that will definitely separate you from the rest of the interviewees. If they give you specific reasons on why you were not chosen, work to correct those.
Visualize, and it WILL Materialize: For long range goal planners, I would encourage you to go onto one of the job sites which compiles all the job postings everywhere on the web, and look up your literal dream job. Look at the requirements and go out there and start building a resume that reflects those requirements. Also, make a follow up folder and check in with companies that you interviewed with on a monthly basis. It’s always a good idea to create Google alerts for specific companies alerting you to job openings, changes in their company, etc. That gives you a terrific reason to contact them again when you are alerted to new positions opening up, news in the industry that may affect them, etc. You would be surprised at the number of people that end up in their dream job after being turned down initially, but through perseverance and determination, end up in just that job.
I wish all of you success in all of your endeavors.
Success is to laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived; this is to have succeeded.”
–The Success Poem, attributed to Bessie Lefkowitz, an American housewife who won a poem contest in 1934
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