December 10, 2015 - Posted to Job Interview
Remember those interviews you had?
Anyone who has had several job interviews in the past will probably remember those that went really well and those that were total bombs. Interviewing is difficult, to be sure. You are anxious about the questions that may be asked; you are concerned about your dress; you need to find the right balance between showing enthusiasm for the position and yet remaining professional in demeanor. Here are some tips that you will want to “tuck away” somewhere for future reference.
There are two types of interviews you may face – one by phone and one or more that will be face-to-face. Let’s take a look at how and when these occur and specific tips for you, the candidate.
The Phone Interview
If you are going through a recruiter, that recruiter will set up a phone interview with you once your resume has been reviewed. No recruiter will ever send a candidate for an interview without at least the phone interview. By the same token, employment managers with organizations will often use phone interviews as a screening to narrow a candidate field further, once they have selected several candidates for consideration. Here are some tips that will get you through that phone interview.
- Usually, the phone interview will be set up in advance, so that you have time to prepare. A recruiter will usually have a set of questions without much “lay” in them. You will need to give straightforward answers. Most questions will relate to your current and previous employment and why you left those positions. Other questions will relate to references and how those former employers will speak of you. Again, a recruiter’s job is to send out candidates that will not reflect badly on him/her.
- If the phone interview is conducted by an HR professional from an organization to which you have applied, there will be leeway and more informal conversation. You may be asked to provide a brief verbal summary of your background, so be prepared with a 1-2 minute summary that will focus on our achievements during your career. If you are fresh out of school, then focus on those activities that relate to the position opening and the skills you have taken away from them.
- Be certain that you have removed yourself from all distractions and background noise – you will appear very unprofessional if you do not. Some interviewees take their cell phones and go and sit in their cars in a quiet place. If you are currently employed, it may be a good idea to go elsewhere for the phone interview.
The Face-to-Face Interview
What to Do Prior to the Interview: Here are some pretty critical things you need to do before you arrive for your interview:
- Do Your Research
You may have completed some preliminary research on the organization when you applied, in order to gear the content of your resume to the position opportunity. Now it is time to learn more. This information is gleaned from the company website, from any press that can find through online searches, LinkedIn profiles, and, in some instances even Facebook. Look for pieces of information that you can insert into a conversation – this tells the interviewer that you have taken the time to get to know the organization.
- Prepare Answers in Advance: There are certain questions that every candidate will most likely get. Here are those questions, so that you can get your answers solidified in your head and rehearse them a bit, so you are not stammering and stuttering.
- “Tell me about yourself.” You may have already covered this in a phone interview, but cover it again. About a minute if plenty of time. Do not speak to your personal life – it’s unprofessional.
- Why do you want to make a change from your current position, or why did you leave your last position? If you were fired, you need to be honest, but figure out in advance what you will say specifically. The important thing here is no “trash talk” about your boss or the company. You can speak to policy or operational disagreements but at a professional level only.
- Why do you want this position? Don’t make this answer about you and what you want; the answer has to focus on what you can bring to the company. If you can tie in something that you recently read about the organization and say you would be excited to bring your expertise to a project, a merger, etc., great. If not, be certain that you speak to value you can bring,
- What are your strengths and what are your weaknesses? Be honest about both and be specific. If your strength is leadership, you need to verbalize specific examples. Saying you are a good team leader or that you have good interpersonal relationship skills means nothing. Relative to your weaknesses, you do not have to give specific examples, of course, and you need to describe them in terms of challenges, giving examples of steps you take to meet the challenges you face. If, for example, you know that you can be overbearing at times, say so. But in the next breath state what you do to counter that when you find yourself in that mode.
3. Prepare a list of questions to ask. These should relate to
- Goals and challenges the organization faces over the next 5 years
- History of the position for which you are applying
- Description of the “culture”
- Factors in performance evaluations
During the Interview: You are well aware that you should arrive early and be polite and professional. If you have done your research, you will know what type of dress will be appropriate for the organization. You will dress far differently for a position with a bank than you will for a new tech startup. Here are other important things to remember:
- Get yourself calm while you are waiting. Deep breathing, visualizing yourself in a peaceful scene, or even counting backwards from 100 silently can do the trick.
- Have a firm handshake and make solid eye contact for just a few seconds before you sit down. Be certain to make eye contact when you are answering a question or when being asked a question. You can turn your eyes away when you pause to collect your thoughts before answering. If you try to “lock eyes” for the entire interview, you will be perceived as weird, so don’t do it.
- Be honest. You don’t have to volunteer items, but if asked, be truthful.
- Don’t talk about your personal life – that is for much later in the process
- Be confident when you ask your questions. You do deserve answers.
- Lean in just a bit when you are being asked a question – it’ important that you demonstrate focus.
- Lean in just a bit and nod your head occasionally when the interviewer is talking.
- At the end of the interview, it’s okay to ask about the next step if you have not been told.
After the Interview: Send an email to say thanks for the interview and state your continued interest in the position. Do not sound desperate, even if you are.
Your goal in an interview is to establish three impressions:
- You are honest and sincere
- You can provide value to the organization
- You have a focus on good performance