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Interview Preparation


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Winning the Interview Game

An interview is a tool designed to determine if your skills and personality meet or exceed a company’s expectations. The fact that you are to interview with our client means that you have been deemed to be highly suitable for an opportunity. However, in order to get the job, you must convince the interviewers at the client site that you are indeed the right person.

The following suggestions have proven invaluable at helping candidates win the interviewing game for many years. We cannot over-emphasize the importance of reviewing and applying these suggestions.

  • Check the company’s location well in advance. If possible, drive by before the day of the interview. Calculate for rush hour traffic.
  • Research the company by looking up their web site. Educate yourself about who they are and what they do, their size, sales volume and so on.
  • Be very aware of your appearance and hygiene. Even if the working environment is casual, always dress in proper business attire.
  • Always have copies of your resume available, ideally in soft and hard copies.
  • If possible, bring examples of work that you are proud of.
  • Be sure to arrive five to ten minutes early. Tardiness will likely take you out of the running before the interview starts.
  • If there are forms to fill out, do so. Never write, “see resume”. By fully filling out an application form, you are not only providing the employer additional information but also demonstrating a good attitude.
  • Be prepared to discuss your strengths and weaknesses. Think in terms of short and long term goals, perhaps one and five years.
  • Shake the interviewer’s hand confidently, but don’t break any bones. Too strong or too limp handshakes are not in your best interest.
  • Maintain a friendly, positive attitude and good eye contact.
  • Take notes during the course of the interview. Be sure to write down the names and titles of everyone that you meet with. This will avoid the embarrassment of forgetting or confusing names later in the interview process. Be very observant.
  • Be honest and truthful about your experience and knowledge. If you cannot answer a question, admit it and ask what the answer is.
  • Conduct your questions and answers in a manner that defines what you can do for the company, not what the company can do for you.
  • Ask “open ended questions”, those that don’t elicit a simple yes or no answer.
  • If you are uncertain of or didn’t understand a question, ask the interviewer to repeat it.
  • NEVER discuss money! If prompted, tell the interviewer your current income, then emphasize that you are interested in a career opportunity and that money may be discussed with your representative at isgSearch.
  • If you want the job, ASK FOR IT!

Questions That You Should Prepare For

  • What you know about our company?
  • Why you applied for this position? What do you know about this position?
  • Why do you feel qualified to do this job?
  • What are your short and long term goals? How are you preparing yourself to achieve these goals? Where do you see yourself five years from now?
  • Describe yourself, your personality and so on.
  • What do you consider to be your technical strengths and weaknesses?
  • What do you consider to be your personal strengths and weaknesses?
  • What have you learned from your mistakes? Give me an example of learning from one of your mistakes.
  • How well do you work under pressure? Give me an example of such a situation.
  • Tell me about one or two professional accomplishments that have given you the most satisfaction. Why?
  • In which ways do you feel that you can make a contribution to our company?
  • Describe the ideal next step in your career. Why do you feel that way?
  • What criteria are you using to evaluate your next employer?
  • What compensation are you seeking?

How Not to Strike Out

Extensive experience in our industry combined with client surveys, whether large or small companies, have taught us the following lessons. The difference between winning or losing the interviewing game may depend on avoiding the following caveats. DO NOT:

  • Be late for the interview.
  • Overlook your appearance and hygiene.
  • Give a limp, wet or overpowering handshake.
  • Appear unenthusiastic.
  • Appear ill at ease or lacking confidence.
  • Leave application form unfilled or sloppily filled in.
  • Avoid eye contact.
  • Appear overbearing or conceited.
  • Appear overly aggressive or ambitious.
  • Condemn co-workers or employers, present and past.
  • Appear unenthusiastic about the job or the company.
  • Appear un-energetic or lacking in vitality.
  • Demonstrate a lack of career goals or poor planning.
  • Appear unable to take constructive criticism.
  • Display poor diction or bad grammar.
  • Cuss or swear
  • Appear cynical, uncaring or selfish.
  • Appear untactful or discourteous.
  • Appear to be shopping or wanting the job for a short time.
  • Seem unsure or indecisive.
  • Fail to ask relevant questions about the job or the company.
  • Expect advancement at an unrealistic rate.
  • Give poor reasons for changing jobs.
  • Demonstrate narrow interests.
  • Demonstrate low moral standards.
  • Give vague or unclear responses to questions.
  • Discuss or otherwise emphasize money.
  • Avoid discussing or lie about unfavourable situations in your past.
  • Avoid discussing or lie about technical or personal weaknesses.
  • Fail or hesitate to provide references when asked.
  • Hesitate or appear unwilling to arrange further interviews.
  • Fail to ask for the job.

Questions You Should Ask at the end of the interview…

  • What are the immediate challenges for this position?
  • What do you expect from me in next three months and one year?
  • Are there any long-term projects that I would be involved in?
  • Are there any burning issues to be resolved?

This gives you an opportunity to summarize your experience in such a way that you can assure client that you understand their concerns and challenges of the position and (if required) give previous examples to confirm that you have the relevant skills and experience to address their concerns / successfully handle the challenges.

Frequently Asked Interview Questions

What are your goals?
This is a very popular question because well thought out goals show maturity and a commitment to your profession or business. Your goals should be long and short-range; ambitious but realistic.

What is your greatest strength?
Again, answer the question in terms of the position to be filled. State your greatest strength and support your claim with illustrations of past accomplishments.

Why do you want to work for this company?
Because I need the money, is not the correct response here. You have already done your homework on the company and you have organized it into one or two concise replies. For example, “Your firm has demonstrated growth of 30%/year and I would like to be a part of a growing company”. “This company has a reputation for quality control and excellent Customer Service. That is the type of firm I want to work for.”

Who do you admire?
The name you give is not as important as what you say after it. I admire Ralph Waldo Emerson, because he did not give up.

Where do you want to be five years from now?
My track record and performance here will determine where I am in five years.

Why have you been out of work for so long?
An interviewer will have underlying fears if you have not been working for a long time. You must calm these fears. Explain in a positive way why you have not been working. For example: I have used my time off to take management courses to enhance my skills. I am a better manager because of it and am prepared to make significant contributions to the company I work for.

What is your greatest weakness?
This is a loaded question because negatives usually won’t score points for you on the interviewer’s evaluation sheet. Offer a job-related minor shortcoming or a positive-negative such as, I have been accused of being a workaholic. Or, I’ve been kidded about being a perfectionist.

Why do you want to leave your job?
Be sure you have a good answer to this question, before going on any job interview. Your reason for leaving might be because of corporate changes, lack of opportunity or recognition, insufficient authority, or unsatisfactory earnings. If asked this question you might say, I wasn’t thinking of changing jobs. I’m not unhappy where I am, but I was told this was an opportunity worth discussing. If you were leaving because you were terminated or personality conflict, be very careful not to make negative comments about former employers or colleagues. Explain the situation as factually and briefly as possible. Then turn what might be a negative into a positive. You may add, Despite the problem, I really feel that I learned a great deal in that job and from that company, and I’m sure I could put that experience to work for you effectively.

What compensation are you looking for?What I am looking for is the right career opportunity. I’m sure you’ll make me a fair offer if you want to hire me.

If pressed on specifics, say “At my last company they felt I was worth this much money, on the basis of what I have accomplished I’d be entitled to some increase, but I would rather hear what you think I’m worth to your company.”

Why should this company hire you?
Do not make the mistake of rambling on and on about what you have done in the past. The interviewer knows your past – it is on your resume. This is a question that will test your poise under-fire. Deliver a one or two line response and stop talking. I have the skills and experience to do the job that must be done here.

Why do you think you are successful?
Because I work long, hard and smart!

Making Mental Notes For Future Return Interviews
Each time you finish an interview before you start your automobile you should review both the interview process and content. How long was I there? Did they describe the job/position in enough detail? Do I want the job if offered? Where have I done the Job before? How did the interviewer leave it with me? What is the timing on filling the position? Can they live without the position filled for a week, a month, a year? What’s the next step? Do I chase the job, wait, wire/write/phone? Who will I interview with next and how might that interview be different?

The Thank You Note
The “Thank you note” aside from being a common courtesy also gives you a chance to cover the interview from your prospective and places your name in front of the Company and Interviewer again. Never underestimate the power of this small item. In a recent survey I found that only 15 per cent of applicants send thank you notes.

In Conclusion
Obviously, common sense goes a long, long way in successful interviewing. What may appear inconsequential, inappropriate or silly in this article is not! The interviewing process is a series of steps, each of which is dependent upon numerous pieces. Take away any of these or add the wrong pieces and you may not get the job!

Remember that most people are hired based on first impressions. In fact, most hires take place within the first fifteen minutes, the rest of the time being attributable to “the way things are done”.