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Interview Pointers


INTERVIEWING

When interviewing, always remember, the person that is best liked is most often the first choice. In other words, be yourself, show your true colors, don't be afraid to ask questions and show someone what your are "really" like!

Turn the interview into your interview. Research the company beforehand, make sure you go into the interview with questions about the company, ask what your responsibilities would be and ask the interviewer if he/she is the person you would be reporting to on a daily, weekly and/or monthly basis. If not, make sure you interview with that person before accepting the position, you want to like/respect the person you are going to work for and with every day.

TURNING THE INTERVIEW YOUR WAY

Find out what the interviewer/company wants, then show them how you best fit that description. The most important objective in an interview is to find out what the buyer wants....then sell, sell, sell him/her on your bill of goods. It saves everyone time and energy. No need to walk in without knowing the basis of the meeting and selling yourself blue in the face.

How do you do it?

After the opening pleasantries, ask him/her, "Before we get started, would you fill me in a bit more on this position? All I know is what I've heard from the placement counselor (newspaper advertisement...etc.)" This will enable you to position yourself and therefore sell what the interviewer is buying.

If the interviewer beats you by asking the first question, of course answer it, and then try to regain the initiative by asking him/her to reveal more about the position. When answering the initial question, make sure your feedback is a 30-second to one-minute summary of your strongest qualifications and then, without pausing, continue by saying, "I have a number of accomplishments that I'd like to tell you about in short. So that I may make my answers relevant to your areas of greatest interest, may I ask a question or two about the position? All I know is what I received from..."

Of course, then have your interviewer's permission to ask several questions which draw out pertinent information about the position.

A good way to get things rolling is to ask questions such as, "What would your highest expectations be for the person who fills this job? or "Why is this position open?" or "What would be the highest expectations for the person who will be selected for this position?"

When the interviewer continues, make sure you keep him/her talking by asking probing questions such as, "That's interesting....why is that the case?" or "How would you like to see this situation fixed?" or "What would the person in this position have to achieve to be considered a great success?"

Then proceed to describe anecdotes of how you achieved success in similar situations. Keep these conversations to two minutes or less...the problem you face, that action you took and results you achieved.

Always listen well to your interviewer, repeating back what they have just said, is always a nice gesture, making sure everyone is in-line. Don't interrupt, but show him/her you understand his/her needs and again, show him/her why you are the ultimate candidate for this position. Most people are starved for attention. Listen....it shows respect.

  • Establish a rapport
  • Be yourself. Don't become someone in an interview that you're not. Be honest and truthful in the material covered and always be yourself, then you don't have to backstroke if ever questioned on anything. Don't hold back, let the true you shine.
  • Demonstrate integrity. Never divulge confidential information about your previous employers, even if pressed to do so. Some interviewers will test you by showing annoyance if you don't. Hold your ground.
  • Never be negative.
  • Never get into an argument with your interviewer. Even if you strongly disagree. You can state your viewpoint enthusiastically and positively, without bickering. Just remember that if you get into an argument, you cannot win either the argument OR THE JOB!!
  • Always show loyalty to former employers.
  • Never be a beggar, look upon your interview as a meeting between equals. Being subservient is as damaging to your chances as being arrogant. The person who is interviewing you was impressed enough with your résumé and cover letter to invite you for an
  • interview. This is a positive start and should be the basis for optimism.
  • Be on your toes at all times, with every person you meet.
  • Never give too much information in the first phone meeting. Gain an in-person interview, not a telephone interview.
  • (If you are prompted for a phone interview, "Managing the Phone Interview," by Peter Vogt follows.)
  • Don't let untalented, insecure or insensitive interviewers get you down.
  • Don't ask the employer about salary until you are offered the position. Make sure they want you first, then negotiate from strength.
  • Be sure you are thoroughly prepared for the interview.
  • Make sure you have some way to receive incoming calls at all times at home, even if it's an answer matching. Be sure there is no static or music playing in the background when taping the outgoing message. If you or your family are sharing the phone.
  • You want to make sure your caller is able to get through to you in the shortest amount of time or that he/she knows you will receive their message, don't count on your Caller ID, if you don't have a recorder or service, the interviewer might perceive you as not interested, the interviewer's true phone number may not come up on Caller ID, nor will their name appear on your Caller ID in order to ask for the correct person when returning a call, and most interviewers don't have the time to call back.
  • Research the company, find enough information to be able to rely on when going in for the interview.
  • Be confident not nervous. Don't allow yourself to want any position too much, even if you're out of work, desperate for money and your "dream job" is riding on the outcome of your interview.

ANSWERING QUESTIONS WITH STORIES

If you tell stories in your interviews–stories will help you illustrate how you have helped other companies in the past. You will stand out in the minds of your interviewers. So, prepare yourself with stories that demonstrate your skills in action; arm yourself with real-life examples of your ability to handle a variety of situations, each one targeted precisely at the needs of the company.

Write things down. Take your notes into the interview so you can view them if you get lost or need something to look at as a reminder. Again, arm yourself with your information in order to tell a great story about yourself and why you are the one for the job as well as stories illustrating how you helped other companies in the past. If you do this, you will stand out and remain in the top portion of the interviewer’s mind.

Instead of answering the interviewer’s questions with a1-liner answer, you can always start with answering with the 1-liner, but after that say, “Let me give you a recent example,” or “Actually, that’s quite a familiar situation to me. Why just last year, my current company launched a new_______,” and then go into a story on how you handled it, etc. as you’re not an average candidate! So, you tell a story from your past experience to illustrate how you have already done something like that in a prior job.

By doing it that way, you have made your answer much more memorable than everyone else, as you have given evidence, instead of just claiming that you can. Most interviewers will go home thinking about whom they interviewed that day. Many would merge into one big boring blob.....but you! You will be the candidate that stands out among the rest of them by answering with specific stories as they demonstrated your ability in a very concrete and memorable way.

So, this is why it’s important to prepare strong stories when working on preparing for an interview. Not only research the company and prepare questions, but prepare yourself with story answers. You’ll be able to use them over and over again as you go in and out of interviews.

Ensure you choose stories that relate to your target employer’s needs as well as put several down on your note pad so you can just move your eyes down to see which one will be perfect for the answer. Depending on how you remember, even just one word or a project name or a grouping of words that will help remind you of the story, so write it down, even if it’s just, “Ability to work within limited budgets,” or “To fix problems,” as most people will be a little nervous when they go on an interview. Your notepad will ensure you will remember.

Stories really are that powerful and having a series of them ready can give you great confidence when you walk into an interview.

MAKE YOURSELF MORE LIKELY TO GET HIRED

According to executive recruiter, Robert Half, research has shown that the first person interviewed gets the job only 17.6% of the time. But the last person interviewed is hired 55.8% of the time, or more than three times more frequently.

The reason: as in most human endeavors, people are wary of accepting the first choice offered. Therefore, do whatever you can to position yourself among the last candidate interviewed and definitely not among the first.

This means you may have to wait a couple of weeks before responding to help wanted ads that interest you. You may ask your executive recruiter to send you in last. And, if your interviewer asks you when you can set-up an appointment, try to push the day back as far a possible.

WORST DAY OF THE WEEK, TIME OF DAY TO BE INTERVIEWED

Also according to Robert Half, another research study has shown that Monday is, by far, the worst day of the week to be interviewed for a job. The worst time for the job interview is late afternoon.

You needn't become a slave to these guidelines, merely use them to your advantage whenever possible.

INTERVIEW TURNOFFS

  • Arrogance, cockiness
  • Poor communication, presentation skills
  • Lack of interest
  • Lack of knowledge about the company and industry
  • Early discussion or questions about salary and benefits
  • Being unprepared for the interview and making excuses
  • Egotism, over-confidence
  • Tardiness, not showing up for an interview
  • Poor eye contact
  • Abrasive, rude, demanding
  • Dishonesty, fabricated answers in an interview or resume
  • Poor language usage, slang, poor grammar
  • No career direction, not knowing yourself
  • Shallow, inappropriate questions or answers
  • Lack of experience, education, skills
  • Lack of professional appearance
  • "Know-it-all" attitude
  • Inappropriate attire
  • Unrealistic goals, career and job expectations
  • Overly aggressive, hostile, manipulative behavior
  • Lack of enthusiasm
  • Poor grooming, hygiene
  • Smelling of cigarette smoke
  • Does not communicate qualifications effectively, no elaboration or examples
  • Lack of professionalism and poise

SURPRISING PERSONALITY TRAIT PREFERRED BY 98% OF HIRING EXECUTIVES

A survey by Hodge-Cronin & Associates found that 98% of 737 chief executives interviewed would hire a candidate with a good sense of humor over a humorless type.

Says Forbes magazine, "A mounting body of research says the preference is well-grounded. Researchers have found a connection between a well-developed sense of humor and problem-solving. Professor of history, Joseph Boskin, who teaches a course of humor in 20th-century America at Boston University, says humorous people are usually wiser and have broader perspectives. And they are often better workers."

So, don't be afraid to smile or even laugh when appropriate during your interviews. But don't crack jokes yourself.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Be prepared for tough interview questions, or not so thought out ones from inexperienced interviewers Go on as many interviews from sun-up to sun-down as possible. Visualize your success

Do your homework

FOLLOW-UP

It is no use mailing off tens or even hundreds of resumes without following up on your efforts. If you are not getting a response with one resume format, you might want to consider using our service, Professional Resumes, please call us at (512) 708-9900 or email us at Request@BestResumesOnline.com

Why would someone throw your résumé away or not respond to you if they've met you and seen what a talented and qualified candidate you are??

Always take five or six copies of your résumé with you to interviews. Often you will attach it to those annoying application forms and then just write on the form, "Please see attached résumé." You will have one on your lap during the interview to refer to, as well as hand out several résumés to interviewers, especially if they have received your résumé over-the-Internet or by fax. You want them to have a clean and crisp copy.

It is always wise to offer copies to subsequent interviewers as well. This is because they have very often been inadequately briefed and may have no idea about your background and skills. It's also a good idea to leave extra copies of your résumé behind with managers for their personal files (which travel with them through their careers from company to company). That person may not need you today, but could come up with a dream job for you sometime in the future.

Plenty of people, whom you might even know, have landed jobs later as a result of a résumé left judiciously with the right person. Who is the right person? Potentially, anyone who holds on to your résumé.

In the job hunt there are only two kinds of "yes" answers: Their "yes-we-want-you-to-work-for us," and your "yes-I-will-start- on-Monday." The joy is in the hunt, with every "no" bringing you closer to the big "yes". Never take rejections of your résumé as rejections of yourself; just as every job is not for you, you aren't right for every job.

Keep things in perspective.

LITTLE THINGS MEAN A LOT

  • Before the day of the interview, get a good night's sleep so you can be well rested.
  • Remember to bring address and phone number of interviewer, in case of an emergency.
  • Review the directions to the interview to ensure you're not going to get lost; GPS doesn't always get you there, so review on Google maps to become familiar with the directions.
  • Listen to the weather forecast in advance to see if you'll need an umbrella or boots.
  • Have change for tolls and parking meters; ensure you have your cell phone with you
  • Never wear wrinkled clothes to an interview.
  • Polish your shoes. Never wear shoes with worn-down heels. Especially if you're walking on nails, ladies. Your shoes may have the last impression you leave on your way out of the interviewer's office. Have your neighborhood
  • shoe cobbler replace your nails with heels.
  • Dress conservatively and tastefully. When in doubt, go without, dress more formally rather than less.
  • Go lightly on cologne, perfume, makeup and jewelry.
  • Use breath freshener, mints, cologne or perfume before the interview, if you are a smoker or ate garlic the night before. If possible, don't eat garlic the night before, your interviewer will love you a lot more than if you did, believe me!
  • Try and arrange your most important interviews for Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Mondays and Fridays are the busiest days in an interviewer's week....and the days least likely to result in a job offer.
  • Throughout your job campaign, and for the rest of your life, bear in mind that two of the best ways to project a strong, relaxed, confident image in all situations is to exercise every day and get a good night's sleep, going to bed before 10:00 pm.

ETIQUETTE CHECKLIST

  • Don't insist on making your appointment at a time that your interviewer indicates may be inconvenient

  • If you are offered reimbursement for travel, hotel and food, it's best to be frugal with your potential employer's
  • money

  • If you're sick, reschedule the interview for another time
  • Dress conservatively

  • Go light on jewelry, cologne, perfume and cosmetics.
  • Never wear sunglasses

  • Never chew gum

  • If your glasses are broken, fix them before the interview

  • Don't take up the time of an important executive by asking for directions, call back and ask the receptionist
  • Always confirm your appointment

  • Always be on time

  • Always treat receptionists and secretaries with utmost respect

  • If you come into the office wearing a coat, hat or other outdoor clothing, take them off in the reception area
  • Never invite your spouse or friend along to the interview

  • Begin and end every interview with a firm handshake and direct eye contact

  • Be gracious and enthusiastic in your greeting

  • Never address the interviewer by his or her first name

  • If your interviewer is a female, wait until she offers her hand before you offer to shake hands

  • If your interviewer is female and you do not know her marital status, address her as "Ms."

  • Don't be seated, until the interviewer is seated or invites you to be seated

  • Try to choose a chair that's adjacent to the interviewer's desk and move it slightly so that you will face the interviewer; if the sun is in your eyes, there's no harm in asking if the blinds can be adjusted
  • Sit with good posture

  • Remember that the most important three minutes of the interview are the first three minutes

IF THE INTERVIEW TAKES PLACE AT A RESTAURANT

  • Offer to pay for your own meal. If the host insists on paying (as he/she should), accept graciously and thank
  • him/her; remember to not to order the most expensive entreé on the menu, conserve
  • Avoid alcohol at meals
  • Mind your manners, taste your food first before adding salt
  • Let the interviewer take the first bite
  • Always put your napkin in your lap as soon as you sit down
  • When finished, don't stack your dishes or move them out of your way, just sit patiently and wait until everyone has finished their meal and let the waiter clear all the dishes, as they have their own system
  • When being served, use thank you to your server or no thank you if asked for something you don't care for
  • Avoid sloppy or hard-to-manage foods, ie) spaghetti, shell fish in any fashion, pizza, hamburgers, etc., think about what you will be eating prior to ordering
  • Never talk while having food in your mouth

ALWAYS

  • Smile easily and warmly
  • Use correct grammar
  • Never smoke
  • Avoid nervous habits
  • Don't read documents on the interviewer's desk
  • Never pick-up objects in the interviewer's office
  • Never talk while the interviewer is reading
  • Always hold your temper in check
  • Keep your ego under control
  • Don't mask your nervousness by talking too much.

SURPRISING LIKES AND DISLIKES OF EXECUTIVE INTERVIEWERS

According to a poll conducted by executive search consultant and author, Allan Cox, two-thirds of employers frown on having dirty footwear. The only thing that will turn them off more is a woman who comes to an interview dressed in a see-through blouse.

Other interesting findings:

  • 40% if hiring executives researched were negative toward a bracelet or neck chain worn by a man.
  • While 17% of middle managers frowned upon anyone wearing a beard, 22% of top executives took a dislike to those with beards. Mustaches turned off 7% of the top executives and 6% of middle managers.
  • Being five minutes late for the interview upset about 60% of executives. Being 15 minutes early annoyed 12% but favorably impressed 45%.
  • Drinking alcohol during lunch was frowned on by 25% of executives, but was viewed positively by 21%.
  • Asking reflective questions about the company impressed more than 80% of all executives surveyed.

EFFECTIVE LISTENING

  • Pay the interviewer the ultimate compliment by listening to his/her questions.
  • The more the interviewer talks, the more he/she is telling you what you should say in order to get yourself hired. So, have a sincere interest in what the other person is saying.
  • After the interviewer makes an important statement, feedback your understanding of it in your own words, to be sure you understand and to show the interviewer how well you were listening.
  • Be on your toes if your interview is interrupted. If the telephone rings, take notes where you left off so as to jog his/her memory when they ask, "Now, where were we?"

USING BODY LANGUAGE TO YOUR ADVANTAGE

  • Use your body language to show your interviewer that you are listening by occasionally nodding your head in agreement.
  • Maintain good but not unnatural eye contact. Keep your eye movements relaxed and steady.
  • Sit up straight in your chair.
  • Never yawn. If you must, do it through your nose!
  • Never tap your foot, twirl a pencil or show anxiety through your legs, feet or hands.
  • Never drum your fingers or crack your knuckles.
  • Remember that closed postures such as crossed arms and/or crossed legs, convey dislike and distrust.
  • Use this fascinating (and very powerful) body language technique of master salespeople: Subtly mimic the body language of your interviewer. If he/she leans towards you, you lean toward him/her slightly. If he/she holds his/her hands in a certain way, you should hold them in a similar fashion.

SENSITIVE ISSUES

  • Never discuss controversial subjects, including race, religion or politics.
  • Never discuss personal problems you may have.
  • Don't reveal to your perspective employer the other positions you may have been turned down for.
  • If you are physically challenged, talk only about your abilities, not your disabilities.
  • Never disparage former bosses, former companies or former employees.
  • Never bring up the subject of money, if your interviewer brings it up, try your hardest not to give salary information, either past, present or future. You may answer, "Well, I am somewhat flexible on salary. What is the range for this position?" Always answer with a range if asked as well as in a cover letter.

HOW TO BRAG WITHOUT SOUNDING COCKY

The best way to talk about your achievements without seeming full of yourself is to talk about specific results and let the specific numbers and achievements carry the weight of the description.

So instead of saying, "I am the best salesman at the firm," you might like to say, "For each of the last eight years I have never placed below the 10% in gross commission production." Then follow this up perhaps with additional sales volume figures.

FOLLOW-UP AND THANK YOU'S

  • Remember, follow-up each interview with a letter.
  • Thank the interviewer for the meeting. Always take his/her business card before leaving.
  • Emphasize your interest in the position.
  • Review your background and briefly explain how your experience will compliment the requirements of the position. Stress accomplishments.
  • Indicate that you intend to follow-up the letter with a telephone call to determine if and when the interviewer wishes to see you again.
  • Should you receive a letter or phone call of rejection, hand write or type another thank you note. This is one of the hardest thing you will do, but believe me, it is very effective. You never know what may happen to the person who was offered the position. He/she might back out within three hours or a family member may become ill, or within that period of time they may have had another job offer that was substantially better than that one.
  • The employer would have to find the next candidate in line and you would be the freshest one on his/her mind.

EMPLOYERS BUY RESULTS

When hiring, companies generally like to buy results, and there are three results that almost always will attract immediate attention:

  • Increased sales. This is the most obvious route to better profits, so it's a hot button to push with most companies.
  • Decreased costs. This is another direct path to better profits.
  • Special expertise. These are skills that the company may need and which indirectly contribute to increased profits
  • The first two results call for you to state your accomplishments and problem-solving ability. The third one calls for you to illustrate your special skills through accomplishments that reflect your value in a more indirect way.

If you would like to make any comments or add additional information to the above excerpt, please feel free to contact us.

The information is "In My Opinion" and other reference journals I've researched for the past several years, and may not reflect your opinions, judgment or assist you. Please use them if you will and I wish you the best on your interviewing process.

Jennifer Cunningham
Professional Resumes
11615 Angus Road, Suite 104-E
Austin, Texas 78759
(512) 708-9900 office

Professional Résumés
Professional Résumés works with clients nationwide by creating compelling, custom-tailored résumés that get you noticed. They assist clients entering the workforce, advancing in their careers to changing career direction.


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