How to get the job! Preparing for the Interview:
The ultimate goal of the interview process is for you to get an offer for a job that meets your needs.
How well you perform in this interview will determine if you make it to the next step (invited in for an on-site interview or extended an offer). Therefore, your main goal of the interview should be fairly obvious:
You need to present your background and accomplishments in such a way that they will want to go to the next step with you. Discuss your experience around their needs. The rate and tone of your voice will play a large part in your success (especially in a phone interview) as well as your body language during an on-site interview.
Your second goal is to gain information about the company and the position that will help you in making your decision on this career opportunity.
Remember, many times the person conducting the interview has only one thing in mind - and that is to determine if you meet their needs. So it’s critical that you focus on the first goal - presenting your background and accomplishments. At this point it’s critical to focus on their needs!
What do you know about the company? What research have you done?
Regarding the location you are interviewing with (what product or services are provided here, sales volume, number of people, how long it has been in business, etc.)
What do you know about the company overall? (where are their other locations – including corporate headquarters, the sales volume of the whole company, other divisions or subsidiaries of the company, the name of the parent company, major product lines, recent major events in the company, etc.)
Most people don’t do proper research on the company they are interviewing with. First, this research will make sure you know who you are interviewing with and will help you to decide if you really want to go to work there. Second, you will have opportunities to share what you know about the company in the interview. This shows them that you are interested in their company not just the position. You can get most of the information you need over the internet.
Be sure to get a thorough job description before your interview. This will help you better understand the requirements of the position. Look at your skills and their requirements and determine whether you meet the needs of the company and where you fall short.
If the company has a need that you don’t have the experience to meet, you should communicate other experiences you’ve had that will make the company feel comfortable that you can overcome this. For example: The company needs someone who has experience with certain computer software. If you don’t have that, you could show that you know similar software and then give an example of where you learned other software very quickly.
Every person you meet on the interview is important. The Receptionist or even the person who has you complete the application can cause you not to get the job. Typically you will meet your potential boss and their boss in the interview process. Obviously, they are the most important people.
If you did great with the boss, that doesn’t mean the job is in the bag. Companies today make team decisions and every person on the team gets one vote.
Here are some of the most common questions asked during an interview:
Tell me about yourself/your background/your current job. – You want to focus on their needs – focus on the “must haves” of the job. Start with your current position and work your way back to college. Make this answer short and to the point. Companies don’t want to know where you were born or where you grew up. Remember to include accomplishments in your answers wherever appropriate.
Situational- Behavioral Questions - Many times you will be asked situational questions. These are questions that begin like, “Tell me about a time when…”, or “Give me an example of…”, or “Have you been in a situation where…”. Interviewers are looking for detailed answers to these questions, not a simple “yes” or “no”. When a candidate answers with detail, it tells the interviewer that they really have had the experience and the candidate’s answer will tell how well they handled the situation.
We suggest you use the STAR method for answering these questions. This stands for Situation, Task, Actions, and Results. You will want to use these words as an outline for your response. For example:
Question: “Have you ever had to discipline an employee?”
Response: There was an instance last week when an employee came to work late and this was the third time this month. (This is the Situation)
It is my responsibility to make sure that this doesn’t continue to happen. (Task)
So I went to the employee one day after work and told them that I needed to talk to them about a few things. We set a time to talk the next day before work. When we met, the first thing I told them was that I was pleased with the quality of their work and with the way they interacted with the rest of the team - which was true. Then I told them that I knew they had been coming to work late and that it needed to stop. I told them there are others who are unable to do their work until they got theirs done and we can’t have that. I told them that the next step would be a written warning and the next step would be a day home without pay. I finished by telling them I hoped we wouldn’t have to go that far. (Actions)
Now the employee comes to work on time every day and has not had an attendance issue since. (Results)
Many times you will be asked about projects you have worked on or teams that you are involved with. You can use this same type of response by first giving the Situation (or problem that caused the need for the project). Then give the Task. (If on a team, give the whole task and then give your specific responsibilities. This will show the interviewer that you were really working and not just sitting back and taking some of the credit.) Explain the Actions taken. Finally give the Results (Of both you and the entire team).
Why are you leaving? – You should share appropriate drawbacks. Examples would be “company is having financial difficulties”, “major downsizing will eliminate 25% of all jobs over the next four months and I don’t know if I will lose my job”, or “I am trying to move to the East Coast to be closer to my family”. Most times “working too many hours” or “political reasons” is not received positively by companies. This is a screen-out question and answers need to be worded very carefully. However, you should never lie or mislead the company. You need to give enough information to let them know you have good reasons to change jobs. However, you don’t want to talk negatively too much about your current employer. Keep this answer short and to the point.
How much money do you make? - Share with them your base salary, any paid overtime, bonuses, profit sharing, and the date and expected amount of your next raise.
If you feel that you are paid so much that the company feels uneasy about considering you, and you are willing to accept what they will offer, then you may want to share only the base salary. You may not want to tell the employer that you make $10,000 in overtime or get a bonus of up to 15% if these issues will hurt your chances of being considered. If you are asked if you make overtime or bonus, tell the truth.
How much money do you want? - If this question comes up after they ask, “How much money are you making?”, say something like, “Money isn’t the only thing important to me. I’m excited about the company, the position, and the career opportunity. I’m confident that if I’m right for you and you’re right for me, we can come to an agreement on compensation”.
If they insist on getting a number tell them there are many components to a compensation package. Benefits, retirement programs, and bonuses. Since I don’t have a complete understanding of your compensation program it is really difficult for me to give you a number.”
For a person to be offered a job, they must have shown interest in the company and the position. Asking questions is one way of showing interest. It is critical that you ask questions in your interview.
We highly recommend you have 10-12 questions in writing before the interview.
You want to be able to ask 4-5 questions that show interest in the company or position.
If you will be interviewing with multiple people you should prepare appropriate questions for each one.
Example questions include:
Could you tell me about the history/present/future of the company?
What are some of the biggest challenges facing your company today?
Could you go into more detail concerning the duties and responsibilities?
What is a typical day like?
What are the biggest challenges of this position?
What needs do you have that could be solved by this position?
What do you expect out of me in the first 6 months on the job?
You should not ask any questions that say “What’s in it for me?”. These would be questions around money, benefits, or advancement. Companies want to hear that you are interested in this position before you start talking about getting a promotion. Remember, Companies won’t expect you to make a decision on an offer until all of your questions are answered. Some of these questions should be held until after you get the offer.
If you are on an on-site interview and meet more than one person, don’t be afraid to ask different people the same questions. This will help you to get the best overall understanding of the company and the position.
Most companies will have you complete a Job Application. You should complete this neatly and in full. The application usually asks for additional information that is not provided in your resume. Do not put “see resume” on the application. Use your resume to help you complete the application.
The application will ask why you are looking. Refer to the earlier section on this question. You have to be consistent with your answers. Give them your true base salary. When it asks for desired salary, put “open”.
Take a reference sheet with you on the interview as well as a resume.
Here is a list of common interview questions. How would you answer these questions?
Tell me about yourself.
What do you know about the position you are applying for?
What do you know about our organization?
What do you know about our industry?
Why are you interested in our company?
Why have you decided to change careers?
Why have you changed jobs frequently?
Describe your ideal job?
What salary are you looking for?
Have you ever been fired?
Give an example of when you had a confrontation with a boss?
What are the most important things you are seeking in a career?
What do you consider to be your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
Why should I hire you?
How could you contribute to our organization?
Why did you choose the college you attended?
Why didn’t you go to college?
What extracurricular activities are you involved in?
Are you willing to relocate?
What type of a work environment are you seeking?
Remember that you are on an interview the entire time you are there, including lunch time, waiting between interviews, driving in the parking lot, and even when you are with the realtor! If they use profanity, drink, or loosen their ties at lunch, it doesn’t mean you can! Always remain professional. Thank them for taking time out of their day to meet with you.
Do you have all of the travel arrangements?
Flight schedules (if e-ticket have picture ID) Rental car – do you need a credit card
Hotel – have your confirmation number and the phone number of the hotel
Directions to hotel and interview
Have phone number of your contact and your recruiter with you
Show up at the interview 10 minutes early. No earlier. Wait in the parking lot if necessary. DON’T BE LATE!.
How should you dress for the interview?
Professional dress unless they request something else
Are you having dinner with them the night before – wear appropriate attire for this too
Shine your shoes
Meals – don’t order sloppy foods or alcoholic beverages – even if they do.
Get a haircut if necessary.
Take all notes concerning company and position to study before the interview.
Take a portfolio for notes during the interview.
Know your resume. Know the details. Be ready to discuss and give examples.
Get business cards from the key people so you can send “thank you” letters.
RELAX and you will do much better in the interview