Read these 13 Interview Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Career tips and hundreds of other topics.
In an interview, it is almost always a mistake to disparage the company you are leaving. Instead, look at the company's published information and pick out a few strengths that make valid reasons for wanting to make a change.
For example, you could talk about:
- how well it's regarded in the industry
- its cutting edge technology
- what you hope to learn from the company
- the prospects for career development that are different from your old company
- changes in your life and career aspirations that make change a good option for you
- the location.
Some interviewers will ask strange questions that don't seem to have relevance to the job. These questions are designed to see how well you think under pressure.
Feel free to pause, consider and even repeat the question before you answer. Be as creative with your answer as they were with the question. Incorporate your work-related qualities into your answer and avoid getting too personal.
To prepare for strange questions, consider the following:
1. If someone were to write your biography, what would it be titled?
2. If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be, and why?
3. If you could have dinner with anyone form history, who would it be, and why?
The last few minutes of your interview are almost as important as the first. Use these techniques to "close" your interview so that you leave them with a good impression.
1. Re-visit what your strong points. Remind them why they should hire you.
2. Let the interviewer know that you are interested in and excited about the position or opportunity.
3. Ask if there is anything else you can provide, such as references, documentation, or samples of your work.
4. Ask about the next step in the process. Will there be another round of interviews? Should you contact the employer? If so, how soon? When will you hear from them?
5. Ask how to contact the interviewer, or get a business card.
You will usually be asked at the end of the interview if you have any questions. The answer should be yes.
If the interviewer has repeatedly raised a concern during the interview, ask about that. For example, frequent questions about your long term plans with the company merit an inquiry about turnover rate.
If you can't think of anything to ask on your own, use one or two of these questions.
- Is there room for advancement?
- Does the company support ongoing training or education for the employees?
- What is a typical day in this job like?
- What is the company's/manager's management style?
- What is the company's mission statement?
- What's the next step in the hiring process?
Save questions about salary and benefits until you have been offered the job. It is also wise to not ask the interviewer for a critique of your interview performance. This puts the interviewer on the spot and makes everyone uneasy.
Carole Martin, The Interview Coach, Monster Contributing Writer
Too many job seekers stumble through interviews as if the questions are coming out of left field. But many interview questions are to be expected. Study this list and plan your answers ahead of time so you'll be ready to deliver them with confidence.
What Are Your Weaknesses? This is the most dreaded question of all. Handle it by minimizing your weakness and emphasizing your strengths. Stay away from personal qualities and concentrate on professional traits: "I am always working on improving my communication skills to be a more effective presenter. I recently joined Toastmasters, which I find very helpful."
Why Should We Hire You? Summarize your experiences: "With five years' experience working in the financial industry and my proven record of saving the company money, I could make a big difference in your company. I'm confident I would be a great addition to your team."
Why Do You Want to Work Here? The interviewer is listening for an answer that indicates you've given this some thought and are not sending out resumes just because there is an opening. For example, "I've selected key companies whose mission statements are in line with my values, where I know I could be excited about what the company does, and this company is very high on my list of desirable choices."
What Are Your Goals? Sometimes it's best to talk about short-term and intermediate goals rather than locking yourself into the distant future. For example, "My immediate goal is to get a job in a growth-oriented company. My long-term goal will depend on where the company goes. I hope to eventually grow into a position of responsibility."
Why Did You Leave (Or Why Are You Leaving) Your Job? If you're unemployed, state your reason for leaving in a positive context: "I managed to survive two rounds of corporate downsizing, but the third round was a 20 percent reduction in the workforce, which included me." If you are employed, focus on what you want in your next job: "After two years, I made the decision to look for a company that is team-focused, where I can add my experience."
When Were You Most Satisfied in Your Job? The interviewer wants to know what motivates you. If you can relate an example of a job or project when you were excited, the interviewer will get an idea of your preferences. "I was very satisfied in my last job, because I worked directly with the customers and their problems; that is an important part of the job for me."
What Can You Do for Us That Other Candidates Can't? What makes you unique? This will take an assessment of your experiences, skills and traits. Summarize concisely: "I have a unique combination of strong technical skills, and the ability to build strong customer relationships. This allows me to use my knowledge and break down information to be more user-friendly."
What Are Three Positive Things Your Last Boss Would Say About You? It's time to pull out your old performance appraisals and boss's quotes. This is a great way to brag about yourself through someone else's words: "My boss has told me that I am the best designer he has ever had. He knows he can rely on me, and he likes my sense of humor."
What Salary Are You Seeking? It is to your advantage if the employer tells you the range first. Prepare by knowing the going rate in your area, and your bottom line or walk-away point. One possible answer would be: "I am sure when the time comes, we can agree on a reasonable amount. In what range do you typically pay someone with my background?"
If You Were an Animal, Which One Would You Want to Be? Interviewers use this type of psychological question to see if you can think quickly. If you answer "a bunny," you will make a soft, passive impression. If you answer "a lion," you will be seen as aggressive. What type of personality would it take to get the job done? What impression do you want to make? ``````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````` Carole Martin is a thoroughbred interview coach. Celebrated author, trainer, and mentor, Carole can give you interviewing tips like no one else can. Subscribe to her free email newsletter, "Interview Fitness Training." at www.interviewcoach.com. Her workbook, "Interview Fitness Training - A Workout With the Interview Coach," has sold thousands of copies world-wide and she has just released her latest book, "Boost Your Interview IQ," both available on Amazon.com.
Research the companies you are interviewing for. Type the name of the company into a search engine and look for the following information:
1. What the company does, makes, or sells and how they compare to the competition.
2. How the company is organized.
3. What the salary range is for similar positions in the area.
4. Key words or phrases that are repeated on the company Web site.
5. Any newsworthy items about the company that you can ask about or mention during your interview.
Be prepared for a situational interview. In this type of interview, you are given a hypothetical situation and asked how you would handle it. You may also be asked to detail an actual situation from a past job experience and explain how you handled it. In both cases, the interviewer is trying to assess your problem solving skills and ascertain whether you understand how to handle typical challenges.
To prepare for situational questions, make a list prior to the interview of some difficult situations you encountered, and think about how you solved them. Common situations to consider are times when you had to give bad news, times when you disagreed with a company policy, or times when you had to deal with a difficult person.
Imagine specific challenges that might arise in the job you are applying for and brainstorm similar situations that you have been in. If you would have done something differently, share that with the interviewer. It shows that you have learned from your experiences and that you are thoughtful.
Business suits are ideal for most interviews. Especially if you are interviewing for a professional position, it is important to look the part.
For jobs where casual attire will be the norm, it still makes sense to dress up. By putting in the extra effort to look good, you'll show your interviewer that you care about the job and you want to make a good impression.
It is likely that you will be asked to list up to three of your weaknesses in a job interview. While some experts recommend listing a non-weakness - like getting to work to early or being a perfectionist - it shows more thought and self-awareness to offer something legitimate and explain how you are improving it.
Think back to a recent job evaluation for inspiration. If you had a hard time managing someone or if a project didn't turn out the way you hoped, you explain how you would do things differently next time to show that you are learning from your past experiences.
Follow these guidelines when interviewing to present yourself in the best light.
1. Plan to arrive 10 minutes early for your interview. This shows you are respectful of the employer's time and gives you some leeway in case you have difficulty getting there.
2. Let the interviewer lead the conversation. Although you want to talk about yourself, keep your responses focused on the job at hand instead of personal issues.
3. Come prepared with at least three questions to ask the interviewer about the company and the position you are applying for.
4. Always follow-up with a "thank you" note or letter.
5. Limit the amount of times you call the employer to check in on the status of the position.
6. If you didn't get the job, send a letter thanking the employer for the opportunity to apply and asking for information on other open positions.
You only have five seconds to make a first impression. In a job interview, these five seconds could determine how you spend a large portion of your life. To make the best first impression, follow these quidelines:
1. Make sure you are dressed appropriately and well groomed.
2. Keep jewelry conservative and cologne/perfume subtle.
3. Make eye contact.
4. Shake hands with a firm, full-handed grip.
5. Introduce yourself. The interviewer may have gone through several interviews already, and could lose track of where he left off.
6. Smile. A smile shows sincerity, caring, and interest.
Choosing a person to act as a reference as you search for a new position is not as simple as it may seem. While it may be tempting to list your work friends, they will not be of help if they aren’t able to give you a proper review when called. A good job reference is able to:
A friend will be inclined to say whatever is needed to help you get a new position, but without detailed knowledge of the subject, their efforts will be exposed early on. Here are some things to think about when choosing a good job reference:
Pick a Direct Manager
A direct manager will be able to speak intelligently about your diligence, timeliness, and capabilities as well as your overall work ethic. They will also be able to provide examples of how you perform certain tasks. Be sure to select a manager that will have a good report. Unless you have divulged that you are looking for a new position to your current manager select a manager from a former position.
Pick a Colleague
Someone who works in the same group as you and does the same type of work will be able to describe more succinctly your job responsibilities and how well you excelled at them.
Pick a Client
There are many roles where you have internal and external clients. Choose a client who can discuss how you provided service to them. The client should be able to discuss the nuances of your communication, documentation, and follow up from a unique perspective. Their report will exemplify how well you delight your clients.
Think long and hard about your reference list before supplying it to potential employees. This list is almost as important as your resume, so give it the time it deserves.
Did you know that there are several different ways to bomb a job interview that have nothing to do with your previous experience? Not only will a potential boss be examining your work history like a hawk over prey, but they will also be looking at every little action you take while in the interview room. Thankfully there are a few ways to make sure you don't make some of these common interview mistakes!
You aren't going out on the town and you aren't heading to a professional photo shoot, so leave behind your nicest dress or most flattering v-neck. Dress appropriate to the respective position. Is this a corporate job? Slacks and a button up will do just fine.
Your sense of smell is one of the strongest senses in your repertoire, so don't abuse it! Caking yourself in cologne or perfume is a great way to get your boss wondering, 'What are they trying to hide'? Even worse, the wrong perfume or cologne could remind your potential boss about an ex-relationship. Not ideal!
Nothing says 'problematic employee' like a person who can't even make it to their interview on time. While it isn't the end of the world, and there are many reasons for being late, the goal is to be there 5 to 10 minutes early. A potential boss will love seeing you waiting and ready for them. It puts of a professional vibe that will protect you from other little mistakes!
This one seems too obvious to have to mention, but here we are. Many people actually bring their coffee with them in the interview room. It looks lazy and unfocused and is a sure check in the wrong box.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|