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Interviewing Tips

90% of hires are based solely upon the interview according to a Harvard Business Review study. Listed below are helpful guidelines to ensure a successful interview.

Do Research

Before the actual interview takes place, it is important to complete as much research as you can about the company, the people, the culture, and the actual position. Be ready to answer the question, “Why do you want to work for this company?”

Practice Interviewing

  • It is helpful to role play with a friend or colleague.  Many companies use a style called behavioral-based interviewing, which allows the interviewer to gain insight on how you would react in certain situations.  Try to prepare several past scenarios that showcase your skills and qualities.
  • Be prepared to answer question regarding your weaknesses.  Often these questions can be the most difficult to answer.
  • Ask your friends or colleagues for honest feedback.  The more familiar you are with your own background and accomplishments and your ability to articulate them, the better your interview.  

Prepare a List of Questions for the Hiring Manager

Hiring Managers generally place importance on the type and relevance of candidates’ questions.  The best questions are those that are not only thoughtful but speak more to goals, objectives, and general information about the company.  Questions wrapped around salary, benefits, vacation, or sick time has more of the message of “what the company can do for you” rather than your own contributions.  A good way to begin building rapport is to find out about the Hiring Manager’s background and reasons he or she enjoys working for the company.

Practice Answering the Salary Question

If asked what you are looking for in terms of a package, carefully go over your current package.  If there is some flexibility in those numbers, you should let the employer know that.  If you are not currently working, then describe your most recent compensation.

If you are seeking an increase from your current compensation, let the employer know that you would entertain their best offer.  Follow up with a statement of value you could bring to the new company.

Prepare for Employment Applications

Your resume supplement should include an accurate list of employment dates, beginning and ending salary, supervisors, and their contact information so that it will be readily available when you are asked to complete the employment application.

Ask for the Job

If you don’t ask for the job, someone else will. There’s a difference between healthy enthusiasm and aggressively jumping over the desk and asking for the job.  If you have demonstrated interest and energy throughout the process, it will be natural at the end of the interview to indicate that you would be very interested in an offer, should you be the candidate of choice.  If there is a close decision between you and another candidate, it is possible that the candidate that shows more enthusiasm in the position will be the winner.

Suggestion for Closing the Interview

“After learning more about this position, your goals and direction for your company, I am extremely interested.  What else would you like me to elaborate on in terms of my background and fit because I would very much like this position and I can see myself working here?  How do I compare to others you may be considering?”

Thank You Notes

It is important to follow up interviews with thank you notes to everyone you met. E-mail is a very good option because of speed, but don’t rule out the uniqueness of a hand written personal note, delivered, rather than mailed.  Differentiating yourself from everyone else will give you the edge.

A key part of the hiring process is your face to face interview.  It can make or break a job offer.

When Arriving

  • Dress for the part with a new interview suit and a fresh, crisp shirt or blouse.  Shoes should be polished.

  • Keep cologne, perfume, and jewelry to a minimum.  Less is better than more in this case, perhaps no fragrance is best. 

  • Carry a portfolio pad where you can keep three copies of your resume, resume supplement, and reference sheet along with any material you may want to have readily available for your interview.

  • Arrive 15-20 minutes early. Not only does it give you an opportunity to observe the company’s surroundings and their employees, but it builds in extra time for any unforeseen events, such as getting lost or parking issues.

  • Turn off your cell phone when you arrive at the company so that you are not tempted to use it while waiting for your interview. 

  • Be polite and friendly to everyone you meet. Many employers check with their front office person to see how they were treated by the candidate waiting to be interviewed. Treat each person like they are the president of the company.

Employment Application

When asked to complete applications, don’t write, “see resume”.   Many times a company will be looking for how neat and complete the applications are filled out as well as one’s attitude for this exercise.

The Intangibles

Building rapport from the onset of the interview is critical.  Employers typically form 90% of their decisions in the first 30 seconds and spend the rest of the time justifying that decision. You can build rapport through good eye contact, a warm handshake, and display of energetic interest.  A smile goes a long way.

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