Interviewing Tips

Planning

  1. Research the company: what has the company done recently, where are they headed, who is their competition, review the company’s web page (review their mission statement, read their annual report) conduct additional internet research, etc. Know more about the employer than the employer knows about you.
  2. Evaluate yourself in terms of the position you are seeking.
  3. Be prepared to tell the interviewer why their company is attractive to you.
  4. Formulate responses by asking the question: “Why should they hire me”?
  5. Bring a copy of your resume for each scheduled interviewer and review it thoroughly. Be prepared to discuss all points listed.
  6. Anticipate questions an employer may ask you.
  7. Prior to your interview, be prepared to discuss five important things you want to make sure the employer learns about you.  Also, prepare at least six unique questions to ask each scheduled interviewer. You may want to ask 2 or 3 similar questions of each interviewer so that you can compare responses.
  8. Plan to ask for a plant/office/company tour and ask good “business” questions while touring the plant, company, etc.
  9. Plan to arrive 5-10 minutes early and bring a pen and notepad to jot down quick, clear notes during the interview.
  10. Role-play and practice with a friend or family member prior to the interview.
  11. Review your notes and go in with CONFIDENCE!
  12. Put a positive spin on topics and SMILE!
    NOTE: Your education and past accomplishments helped get you this far, now you must exhibit your value, confidence, responsiveness, energy, versitility, and enthusiasm during the interview to sell yourself.

Proper Attire and Appearance

Employers reject improperly dressed candidates. Accept the fact that many employers have an unwritten dress code and like to hire properly dressed candidates. Forget your own personal preference. You should dress according to the impression you want to create (successful, business-like, conservative). Review newspaper fashion supplements or business magazines. Your attire/appearance won’t get you the job, but a poor appearance can rob you of it.

  1. Hair – neat and clean
  2. Clothes – cleaned, pressed and tailored to fit properly
  3. Maintain good posture and direct eye contact
  4. Don’t wear a watch if you have a nervous habit of looking at it. Take note of/control other nervous habits.
  5. Minimal discreet jewelry – (men – no earings)
  6. No (or light) perfume or cologne. Scents can be offensive to people with allergies.
  7. Polished dress shoes
  8. Make-up should be subtle and natural
  9. Women should wear a suit or tailored dress (navy, red, gray or black)
  10. Men should wear an updated suit (navy blue or charcoal gray) and updated tie

Interview Strategy Tips

Your objective is to obtain a job offer by outshining the competition. You have already achieved this with your work history, now you need to accomplish this with your appearance and interview strategy.
If your face-to-face interview is with the same person as your initial phone interview, refer to earlier topics and develop them further. Demonstrate your ability to pay attention and retain information.

  • Demonstrate confidence in yourself and your potential value to the company.
  • Become the solution to a problem.
  • Show how your commitment, imagination and energy level can be directed to their larger needs or strategies.
  • Provide them with your unique selling proposition (selling them on you for this particular position, why they should hire you.)
  • In today’s fast paced world, companies need people who are versatile, who can jump into a new project at a moments notice, stay on top of changes and basically re-engineer their job with little supervision.
  • Show you can manage your own development (show you’re a self-starter and able to manage your own future and seek out new skills and responsibilities).
  • Show you are versatile and flexible (companies and business change – your ability to adapt creatively is a powerful asset).
  • Address your leadership qualities (confidence in times of uncertainty, innovativeness, a healthy competitive edge, global thinking, skilled in coordinating complex tasks, etc.)
  • Show that you generate more value than you cost (show how you can reduce costs and generate benefits).
  • Give indicators of good performance, prepare mini-stories ahead of time
  • Be prepared to answer those “tough” questions
  • Be assertive about what you can contribute.
  • Listen carefully and make sure you understand a question before answering it.
  • Quantify your answers when possible.
  • Know when you’ve said enough. Stimulate interest without draining attention. Ask the interviewer – would you like to hear more about that?
  • If it is an all day interview, you must push yourself to be as energetic at the end as you were in the beginning.

Fundamentals to remember:

  • Shake hands firmly with direct eye contact.
  • Be gracious and enthusiastic in your greeting.
  • Formally address the interviewer.
  • Offer the interviewer a copy of your resume.
  • Maintain high energy level, good posture and eye contact.
  • No smoking
  • Avoid drinks if possible. Be careful not to spill.
  • Avoid nervous habits (showing anxiety through your legs, feet and hands).
  • Listen Attentively
  • Never talk while the interviewer is reading.
  • Respond formally (Yes – don’t say yep or yeah)
  • Eliminate such phrases as  “you know” “uh” and other verbal fillers. When role-playing, see how many times you actually do this.
  • Never be negative about anything, especially former employers.
  • Never bring up the subject of salary or benefits.
  • Never chew gum
  • Do not bring a cell phone or beeper into the interview.
  • Be yourself.
  • Be positive.
  • Smile!
    Asking good solid “interest” questions is extremely important. “Interest” questions are questions related to the job, the company, its products, services and people. Some of the questions below overlap, but that was done purposely to give you some choices.

Position Related:

  • May I ask, what aspects of my background attracted you to my resume?
  • Why is this position open?
  • What qualifications are you looking for in the person you need?
  • Ask about your potential peers, subordinates, and superiors. Ask to see an organization chart.
  • How would you describe your management style?
  • If I was your candidate of choice, and accepted your offer of employment, what would be the top three priorities you would want me to address during my first two months on the job?
  • How will this position contribute to the department’s/company’s future success and strategic goals?
  • What qualities and capabilities do you consider most important for this position?
  • What are the short range and long range career opportunities for this position?
  • How many people have held this position in the past several years and where are they now? Were they promoted?
  • What are examples of the best results produced by people in this job?
  • How would you define success in this position?
  • What are the priorities and challenges you see for this position?
  • How can this job be done more efficiently and at a lower cost?
  • What would make the workplace more stimulating?
  • How can we coach others to attain higher levels of performance and satisfaction?
  • What would you expect me to accomplish while I am in this position before I am promoted?
  • Are there any projects in motion that I will inherit and what is their history and status? What future projects will I be involved with?
  • When I perform to your expectations, how will I be evaluated?
  • What are the future goals of this department?
  • What aspects of the position/department would you like to see strengthened and why?

Company Related:

  • What are the biggest challenges facing your company?
  • What are the company’s future plans and goals?
  • What areas of the company would you like to see strengthened and why?
  • What do you like most about your company? How long have you been here and what positions have you held?
  • Where do you see the major growth potential for this company during the next 2-5 years? New products? Acquisitions?
  • What are the advantages of your products over the competitors? Who are your main competitors and why?
  • How can our products and services be improved?
  • What are new ways to surprise and attract customers?
  • How can we identify undiscovered customer needs?
  • How do you envision this department/company over the next 3 years?
  • Has there been recent growth or downsizing within the company?
  • Does the department have a mission/vision statement? Company’s mission/vision statement?
  • What is the cultural environment of this company?
  • What new technological advances do you feel are essential in order to maintain or increase your position in the marketplace?
  • What has led to your company’s success and how do you expect to maintain that?
  • What is your philosophy and the company’s philosophy on training and development?
  • In my research, I read that (state information on industry, trends, company’s market share, new products under development, etc…). How do you see that changing in the next two years? (or, briefly relate your skills or past experience to this topic).

End of Interview Related:

  • How many other candidates are interviewing for this position?
  • How do you think I would fit into the job and into your organization?
  • On the basis of what you’ve heard so far, do you believe I have the qualifications you’re looking for?
  • Is there any aspect of my candidacy that is unclear or might concern you that I can clarify before I leave?
  • Do you have any questions about my qualifications? (Here’s your chance to clear up any misunderstandings and come to terms with any reservations your interviewer may have.)
  • Mr./ Mrs./Ms_______, based on our conversation, I know I can be an asset to you and the department. Is there anything else that you need answered in order to hire me?
  • This has been an interesting day. I like what I’ve heard here today and I’d like to join your team. I know I would be an asset to you/your department because you need someone who can _____ and ______. As you know I have  (match your qualifications with the employer’s hot buttons). Before, I leave do you have any more questions about my background or qualifications, or can I supply you with the any more information? On a scale of 1-5 how do I compare to the other candidates you’ve interviewed? The farewell should also include a smile, direct eye contact and a firm handshake.
  • How soon may I expect to hear from you? (Note: If at the end of the interview, you are interested in the position, ASK FOR IT!) This is one way, another would be something like: This is a very interesting opportunity, can you tell me what the next step will be?
  • These are several ways of letting the hiring authority know that you are interested in the position – come up with one that feels good to you.

Reasons for Rejection

  • Poor Attitude/Arrogance/Being Aloof/Overly Aggressive
  • Appearance
  • Lack of Research
  • Lack of Good Questions
  • Not Readily Knowing Answers to Interviewer’s Questions
  • Professional instability
  • Being Negative about former employers and / or managers
  • Relying too Much on Resume – People Hire People, Not Paper
  • Too Much Humility – Conditioned not to brag, candidates are sometimes reluctant to describe their accomplishments. It is important that you explain how you reached difficult or impressive goals.  This helps employers understand what you can do for them.

Summary

  • In order to have a successful interview you must find out what people want, and then show them how you can assist them in obtaining it and filling that need.
  • Aim to meet or exceed expectations – not just meet requirements.
  • Listen well to the interviewer. Be attentive and show them that you understand their needs.
  • Establish rapport. Switch from “you against me” to “you and me against the problem” and working toward a common goal.
  • Be yourself. Let your natural strengths come through.
  • Be truthful. If you do not know how to answer a question, say so. Ask for clarification if necessary.
  • Demonstrate integrity. Never disclose confidential information about your current/previous employers.
  • Never be negative about anything, including former bosses, companies or employees.
  • Be on your toes at all times with every person you meet (secretary, employees you pass in the hall, etc.)
  • If invited to lunch or dinner, remember that’s part of the interview as well. Order simple dishes that you can eat neatly and avoid expensive items. Decline alcoholic beverages. Don’t criticize the food, location or service. It may be your interviewer’s favorite restaurant.
  • Don’t ask the employer about salary, benefits, etc.  (That will come later if you are offered the position.)