Tuesday, February 5, 2008

ABC of good interviewing

ABC’s of Good Interviewing.

The purpose of a resume is to get the interview; the purpose of the interview is to receive any offer.

A. Your perspective.
An interview should be hard work and you must be prepared. However let’s understand first what you are trying to accomplish. When you have completed the interview you should be able to answer the following three questions:
Do you understand the opportunity
Can you do the job, and
Do you want the job?
We can flip these and easy understand what the interviewer is trying to accomplish!

B. The basics.
Never forget the basics. That is know where you have to be, be there 15 minutes early, be well presented, that is have clean shoes, be well prepared, know all you can about the interviewers and company. And above all be respectful. Wear a suit even if the company has a casual dress code.

People hire people they like, people like people with energy. So have good posture, eye contact, listening skills! and use words such as contribute, enhance, and improve in your responses.

C. Be prepared for the Ice-breakers.
Over 80% of interviews start off with an icebreaker like “tell me about yourself”. These are dangerous and you need to be on guard. Interviews are rarely interested in you to the extent that they are will to sit a listen to where you grew up and irrelevant stories – so we have to keep it relevant at all times. So how do you answer it? You need to do some homework.

Prepare your own marketing statement the night before. Everyone needs this at all times, it is sometimes referred to as your elevator speech or pitch. Imagine you get caught in the elevator with the boss between floors; you would not want to miss the opportunity…

This is what it looks like, prepare a 3 part statement:
Part 1 – One sentence summary of career to date.
Part 2 – Accomplishment you are proud of that will capture the employer’s attention.
Part 3 – One sentence summary of what you want to do next in your career.

Example “I’ve had 16 years of experience in the industry while serving as a {job title} with company ABC for the last five years. While at ABC, I led the successful {accomplishment} which resulted in us achieving {bottom line impact…saving money, saving time, awards/recognition}. For my next career move, I desire to move to a company with more prestige where I can continue to add value for the long term.”

Tips. We always need to do our homework and this statement is a good demonstration. Part 1 needs to be relevant and most people have to work at making this short, easy to ramble on here – the interviewer is not interested.

Part 2 is very telling, prepare as many accomplishments from your career as possible, select the best for your marketing statement and use the remainder through out the interview to answer other question. For example if you get a skill question “what do you know about ..?” You can have a specific accomplishment that highlights your knowledge.

Part 3 allows you to answer “why am I here and why you should hire me?” right up front. Don’t miss the chance.

**An Extra Tip: If given the opportunity to ask a question at the very beginning of the interview – Ask, “What exactly are you looking for in a (title of position)?” Listen Carefully! You should target the rest of your interview answers so that they cover what the hiring manager’s response was to that question.

D. How to answer behavioral questions.

You are going to get many questions in interviews that are skill, knowledge or behavioral based. For example, what’s the most difficult situation you ever faced on a job?

Answer questions with examples, so you will be glad you did your homework. Remember rule 1 – it is all about them, how do you joining them benefit them? How do your previous accomplishments and experiences benefit them?
One way you want to think of this answer using the SOAR or STAR principles.

Situation Situation
Obstacle Task
Action Action
Result Result

“I was in this situation, I was given this task, I took the following actions and result was…”

See how all the accomplishments you prepared for your marketing statement will be very useful?

Each discipline will have their own skill requirement so be prepared, we can’t cover that here but all employers are looking for the same three things:

Skills, Experience and Stability

But be prepared to highlight the “intangible” using accomplishments. Saying you are a “good team player, good communicator, hard worker, cultural fit, internally motivated” with no context is hollow.
E. Be ready to ask good questions.

When finally the interviewer will ask “have you any questions for me?” The wrong answer is “No”. Interviewers like to talk about themselves and they get as much out of you questions as the answer to their questions.

Prepare questions in these 3 categories:
Questions about the job / opportunity
Questions about the company, however never ask something that is publicly available.
Questions about the interviewer, how about testing them with “tell me about yourself”

Sample Questions:
-What would you expect me to achieve in the first 6 months?
-Is there anything I can tell you about my qualifications that I haven’t said yet?
-What are the principal challenges I would face in this job?

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