Acing the Interview!
How to avoid Interview Pitfalls and improve your chances exponentially!
When do interviews begin and end?
The general conception is that Interviews begin when candidates enter the interviewer’s office. Nothing could be further from reality. Job interviews begin with the job application and end when you have commenced work. Everything in-between from your first contact with the employer to the moment you step foot into your new office is part of the interview. Consider yourself under a magnifying glass from beginning to end.
What is the purpose of the interview?
There is only one purpose: To obtain a job offer. Not the job itself, because you may decide after careful consideration that the job is not for you. But to have had a successful interview, you must gain “The Power”. And in order to have “The Power” with you, you must first obtain it by obtaining the job offer. It’s simple: You either have a job offer or you have a story! What would you rather have?
How hard do you play?
Consider this schematic?
100-90% / 90-75%
75-50% / 50-0%
What does each value mean?
100-90%: Interviewing to Win
90-75%: Interviewing not to Lose
75-50%: Going through the motion
50-0%: Not even going through the motion
It’s your decision which quadrant you want to occupy.
Researching the employer
The internet has a plethora of information on employers. Study it carefully. Augment it with information from third-party sources but be mindful of gossip. You must have the information at your fingertips during the interview, not only to use the information as a springboard for more questions, but even more so to show that you did your homework.
See our blog post: Dress for Success and Win! There is one exception to the rule: If you work with hard-hat and safety shoes and won’t have time to change, you may appear at the interview in your work attire, but only after first advising the interviewer and obtaining his or her consent.
Always show up 15 minutes before the appointment time. If you are unavoidably delayed, call the employer or your employment agent ahead of the appointment time. Do not just show up late without prior notification. It could create a hole which you will have difficulties climbing out of.
Travel & overnight stays
In out-of-town interviews it is common to stay overnight before the day of the interview. How you act during travel and overnight stays is part of the interview and goes into the evaluation! Here are some absolutes:
• Treat the employer’s money like your own. Don’t splurge!
• Always fly coach.
• Rent a small or mid-size car.
• Order meals at prices that would fit your own budget.
• You are permitted one glass of wine or cocktail with your dinner. Pay for additional drinks with your own money.
In the Reception Area
Accord the receptionist utmost respect! Be friendly and professional. Use the restroom before the interview. While you are waiting to be seen, study material displayed in the reception area or review your notes.
The Application Form
Do not fudge. Employers check everything including your educational record. False or missing entries will cost you the job! Complete the AF in full. Include all employment periods including the part time or short time job you had some time ago. It’s all about the truth.
Include salary and bonus information in the application form except for one entry: In answer to ‘Salary Desired’ DO NOT enter a number. If you do, you are stuck with it. Instead enter: “To be discussed” (or TBD) and proceed to do so at the appropriate time.
In the interview
Bringing business cards:
Hand a business card to every person you meet. It will make a good impression and helps people to remember you.
Breaking the ice:
Some people are better at this than others. Just be friendly, courteous and professional. Shake hands. Make eye contact. Smile. Tell interviewers how pleased you are to meet them. Keep the chit-chat to a minimum. Let the interviewer segue into the interview.
“Tell me about yourself”:
Many interviews begin with this invitation. In response do not become expansive. Begin with your education and give a quick overview of your work history and experience. Then stop and let the interviewer take it from there.
Passion and Enthusiasm:
A lack of passion and enthusiasm about your life, your career and your work will sink your ship faster than anything. So be animated, let the interviewer know that you enjoy your life, like what you do and that you are good at it. Interviewers want to know about personal aspects of your life. The sports you follow or like to play, proud fatherhood, your involvement in civic, religious or social activities, cultural interests could be safe subjects. Politics not so much.
Interviews are two-way streets:
There must be back and forth. If you find yourself doing all the talking, you have lost the interviewer’s interest. Get back on track by asking a question pertinent to the job at hand.
The best way of interviewing:
The best way to interview is asking a lot of pertinent questions about the employer and the job. (Do not ask about compensation at any point). Asking informed question shows what you know and that you are aware of the issues and challenges of just such a position you are interviewing for.
When to stop asking questions:
Never! Not until you are back by yourself in your own car or on the plane! So be prepared. It’s acceptable to bring a list of questions with you to the interview.
Staying on safe ground:
You are always on safe ground when you are talking shop. Stay there by asking a lot of information about the job, the company, challenges the employer faces, their mission and aspirations. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt salary negotiations until it’s appropriate. This is not the moment.
Behavior based interviews:
This type of interviews rests on the belief that past is prolog; that past decisions are indicators of future performance. It manifests itself in the hypothetical question “What would you do if?”. Our strongest recommendation is not to answer a hypothetical with a hypothetical. Instead refer to a similar real event in your career; explain the challenge and the solution you and your team found. But be sure not to reveal confidentialities.
You may show samples of your work, but only with the interviewer’s consent. You must be sure not reveal confidential information in the process. If you do, you will have eliminated yourself from considerations for the job.
About your “weaknesses”:
We all have them but there is no need to talk about them in an interview. Try to turn weaknesses into strength by talking about steps you have taken to augment and improve aspects of your work.
Meetings over meals:
Meetings over meals are interviews. Even chit-chat is evaluated! Do not let your guard down. Preferably do not consume alcohol. Stay alert. Use the same caution when a staff member meets you at the hotel and drives you to the interview.
Reasons for your job search:
You must have positive reasons. Being unhappy with your current job is not a positive reason; seeing potential in the position you are interviewing for, is. If you lost your job stay positive in talking about it. Do not malign your former employer!
You must ask for the job:
Before the end of the interview you must indicate interest in the position, even if you have some reservations. You must do this for the reason outlined before: You want to get the job offer. When interviewers sense a lack of interest, they will offer the job to someone more enthusiastic than you
Successful Salary Negotiations
Candidates will sometime freeze when it comes to salary negotiations for fear of losing their chance, especially when currently unemployed. But there are simple steps to achieve the desired result without eliminating yourself from the line-up. Your current or most recent income is the base line from which to negotiate. You want to improve it. Part of salary negotiations is to avoid tying yourself to a salary figure in the Application Form. ERGO the entry “To be discussed”.
After the interview
Get a business card from every interviewer or note their name and position. Send a ‘Thank-You’ note to everyone you met but keep it brief. Nowadays, emails are acceptable. In four sentences thank them for their time, express interest in the position, re-affirm your qualifications and express the hope to hear from them soon. Unless you have been invited to elaborate in a lengthy letter, refrain from doing so. If you did well, it’s superfluous. If the interview did not go well it’s unlikely to change minds.
About Counter Offers
Employers like to retain good employees; many have specialists for employee retention and development in their HR Groups. If employers attempt to counter an offer, such counteroffers will range from sops to substantial. You must weigh the pros and cons, but one point is incontrovertible: Staying must benefit both parties. Income should not necessarily be the prime consideration unless it was your reason for looking in the first place. It is important to determine the long-range effect staying will have on your career.
Feel free to contact us any time with your questions. In the meantime, let us optimize your resume free-of-charge.