Interview Tips

Interview Essentials

Companies look to hire individuals who can add value to their staff and your time to prove this is during the interview. Interviewing is an art that you should strive to master and there are 5 key strategies that will help you succeed during the hiring process.

Sell Yourself
An interview is an opportunity to sell your professional background to a company. To do this, you must not only know your professional background but you must be able to communicate it effectively. The following are ways you can better sell your professional attributes during an interview:

Always maintain good eye contact with your interviewer, as it helps to demonstrate your confidence.
Be personable and pay close attention to your interviewer's personalities.
Know your career history inside/out without having to depend on your resume. Remember that your resume should only be used as a reference point and not something that you read directly from.
Distinguish the commonalities of the job description and your resume. This is where your "selling" approach may be most effective.
Always provide examples to help substantiate your answers.

Focus on your Strengths
Most interviews consist of the interviewer asking about your strengths and weaknesses. Be sure not to fall into a trap by discussing all of your weaknesses. Instead, try discussing a quality of yourself that may seem to be a weakness but may also be deemed a strength. For example, you may state that you spend too much time concentrating on small details that occasionally cause you to take more time to complete an assignment. However, you are that much more confident about your end product and how it is relied upon by others within your company. This approach affords you the opportunity to speak about your strengths rather than focusing on your weakness.

Big to Little
When someone asks you about your experience - for example, with mergers and acquisitions - use the big-to-little strategy to organize your thoughts, respond seamlessly and make it easy for your interviewer to understand your specific experience. Start big, with an overview of your experience in M&A -- just a short description of your overall scope and depth of experience. Then follow up with smaller details -- two to four specific achievements, projects or highlights that are directly related. You might talk about your involvement in due diligence, negotiations, transactions or acquisition integration. In essence, you're communicating, "This is what I know, and this is how well I've done it."

Going the Distance
You're nervous. You're sitting in the executive conference room with the president, CFO and two executive VPs. Take a deep breath and remember you've already passed the first test, generally a Corporate Recruiting or an Associate screening. And if it's a job at the level where your first interview is with the company's top executives, you know they're interested or they wouldn't be taking the time to interview you. Therefore, go into the interview knowing you've already got them on the hook. Remain confident, yet humble.

Take the Initiative
You're nearing the interview's close, and you had wanted to share your experience that maybe was not reflected on your resume or even discussed with the interviewer. It is your responsibility to introduce it into the conversation. You might comment, "Before we end, I'd like to share one more thing with you that I think is important to the position and my fit within your organization." Then proceed with sharing the information. Take the initiative during an interview to be sure you have communicated all that is of value.

There is no doubt interviewing is a stressful and often a difficult situation. However, it's your professional life on the line. Walk into each interview knowing what information you want to communicate - have a Plan of Attack! Quietly control the interview to be sure you paint a picture of knowledge and success as you position yourself for an offer.

Interview Pet Peeves

You sit facing the interviewer, feeling like things are moving along nicely when all of a sudden the interview takes a drastic turn for the worse. What just happened? You may have hit one of the interviewer's pet peeves, one of those things that automatically triggers a negative response. Here are five of the most common peeves provided by experienced interviewers, along with some tips on how to avoid them:

1. Too Much of a Good Smell Can Be Bad
Keep in mind that many people are sensitive and/or allergic to strong scents. Wearing too much perfume/cologne may disagree with your interviewer and may lead to a lasting negative impression.

2. Communication: Too Little Leaves Interviewers Exasperated
Applicants who don't talk often irritate many interviewers. Open-ended questions are often asked so that the interviewer receives an in depth answer. Applicants should not have to be prodded along to get an answer. It is essential to come prepared to answer questions and talk about yourself.

Flip Side
Candidates who ramble may risk losing the interviewer's attention. I have encountered a number of candidates who were asked one question and talked for 30 minutes straight. This is a sure way to get disqualified from a job opportunity.

Candidates should stay focused, and answer the question asked -- in two to three minutes.

3. Lack Of Eye Contact
Interviewers often experience a feeling of distrust when the candidate does not make eye contact during the interview. It may also be a clear indication of your lack of comfort with interacting with people.

4. Leave Your Street Talk Behind
Communication skills are a clear indication of your level of professionalism. Slang words and street talk just don't have a place in most business environments. Also, candidates who say 'um,' 'like' and 'uh' between every other word lose the attention of an interviewer.

5. Do Not Over Embellish
One major complaint among recruiters is when a candidate is not completely truthful; small lies are all too common in the world of recruitment. This includes not being completely forthcoming with relevant information, embellishing accomplishments, hiding jobs or leading the process on with no intention of ever following through. Building trust during the interview is key to getting an offer.

Questions To Ask The Interviewer


Always prepare questions to ask. Having no questions prepared sends the message that you have no independent thought process.
Some of your questions may be answered during the course of the interview, before you are offered the opportunity to ask. If so, you can simply state something to the effect that you were interested in knowing about ..., but that was addressed during the interview. You could ask for additional clarification if applicable.
Do not ask questions that are clearly answered on the employer's web site and/or in any literature provided by the employer to you in advance. This would simply reveal that you did not prepare for the interview, and you are wasting the employer's time by asking these questions.
Never ask about salary and benefits issues until those subjects are raised by the employer.

If you are having trouble developing questions, consider the following samples as food for thought. However, don't ask a question if you are not truly interested in the answer; it will be obvious to the employer.

What are the company's strengths and weaknesses compared to its competition?
How important does upper management consider the function of this department/position?
What is the organization's plan for the next five years, and how does this department fit in?
Could you explain your organizational structure?
How will my leadership responsibilities and performance be measured? By whom?
What are the day-to-day responsibilities of this job?
Could you describe your company's management style and the type of employee who fits well with it?
What are some of the skills and abilities necessary for someone to succeed in this job?
What is the company's policy on providing seminars, workshops, and training so employees can keep up their skills or acquire new ones?
What particular computer equipment and software do you use?
What kind of work can I expect to be doing the first year?
What percentage of routine, detailed work will I encounter?
How much opportunity is there to see the end result of my efforts?
Who will review my performance? How often?
How much guidance or assistance is made available to individuals in developing career goals?
How much opportunity will I have for decision-making in my first assignment?
Can you describe an ideal employee?
What is your organization's policy on transfers to other cities?

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