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Review These Interview Basics

Posted by Pat Tovo

don't just talk in an interviewSad but true, job interviewing never seems to get easier.

Every interview is different. You meet new people with new personalities and unique needs, you work hard to sell yourself and position your skills as appropriate for the job, and the third degree throws you a curve ball. Through it all you present a sparkling personality. Exhausting.

There are ways though to conquer the process with less stress. With a little prep you can nail the interview and impress upon the recruiter and hiring manager that you are the best cleared candidate for the job.

Below are tips to help you sail through an interview with more confidence.

Practice make perfect

If you didn’t already do this – which you should have before you applied for the job – review the job description that was posted by the hiring company. Make a list of the qualifications and skills they seek. Compare your experience to their requirements and note your appropriate strengths. Be prepared to emphasize your skills that appear relevant to the position. Strong responses to questions need to be concise and specific using relevant illustrations of experience with achieved results.

For example, if a job description states a requirement for leadership skills, you know you will be asked about this. Practice your relevant success stories.

While it’s important to be well-prepared, don’t forget to listen closely during the interview to the questions being asked. Even the most prepared responses will sound hollow if they don’t answer the questions clearly.

Almost every interviewer will ask if you have any questions. Don’t miss this opportunity to shine, as for many interviewers this is a test. Ask no questions, and you fail.

Gather your thoughts ahead of time. Be ready to impress with the research you’ve done on the company, the individuals you’re interviewing with, and your interest in the position.

Build a connection with the interviewers

Building a rapport during your interview will serve you well. When the interview appointment is made, ask who you will be meeting with. Do a bit of research on them ahead of time so you know their role in the company. Google them. Check out their LinkedIn profile. Get familiar with names so you can address people appropriately.

Work to make a connection with your interviewers. Look them in the eye, sit up straight, be attentive and smile. It’s also appropriate to make light conversation. You can compliment them on a family photo or office décor. While it’s important to maintain professionalism, it’s also okay to show your personality. Companies tend to hire people they like and who they feel will fit into the company culture.

 Do your homework and let it show

You can find out a lot about a company from their website. But don’t stop there. Do a general and thorough online search to find articles about their business and company leaders. Check out the company social media profiles too. When the interviewer asks, “What do you know about us?” you should be prepared to talk about subjects that are important to you, relevant to the position, and hopefully can translate to your accomplishments.

You might say something like, “I read that you implemented new software last year to track inventory. I’m quite proficient in that platform and used it to achieve great results in my last position….”

Get ready the day before

Waiting until the morning of your interview to scan your wardrobe for a professional outfit will not serve you well. Make sure ahead of time that every garment (and shoes!) are clean and pressed. Have everything laid out and ready to pull on.

Print out extra copies of your resume. Have them tucked into a clean folder or placed in a portfolio. Pull up directions to the location of your interview and make sure you know where you’re going. If you have any doubts at all, do a practice run to the location ahead of time.

The early bird gets the worm

It shouldn’t have to be said that you need to be on time for your interview, which really means arrive early. Plan on arriving 10 – 15 minutes ahead of time. Use those minutes to sit in your car, gather your thoughts and review your answers/questions. You can also enter the building a bit early to visit the restroom and give yourself the once over in a mirror.

Take a deep breath

As you wait for the interviewer to arrive, take a deep breath, give yourself a pep talk and call on your confidence. Your body language is a strong communication mechanism, so stand tall and hold your head high. As you meet the interviewer, look her in the eye, offer your hand and introduce yourself. Getting calmly through this first encounter will set the tone for the remainder of the meeting.

Don’t forget to follow up

The follow up to an interview is very important. This is a terrific opportunity to recap your qualifications, restate your interest in the position, and thank all interviewers for their time. It’s a good way to leave a strong impression. If you haven’t heard from the company in the timeframe set by them to make a decision, it’s alright to send an email inquiring about the status of their search. If you come across an article that might of interest to the hiring team, feel free to forward to them. This is just another way to show you’re on the ball and have a genuine interest in their company. And if you decide, for whatever reason, that you are no longer interested, let them know.

If you don’t get an offer, remain positive and professional. This job may not have worked out but there could be a better fit in the near future. You should let your recruiter know you’re interested in upcoming opportunities.

A search for the perfect cleared position is an ongoing process. After any interview take the time to review how it went and note where you can make improvements. Hopefully these tips will have prepared you to present yourself as a confident, capable candidate. No interview is a waste of time. It gives you the chance to hone how you sell yourself so you’ll be ready when the job of your dreams comes along.

Pat Tovo guides job seekers in conducting successful employment searches through targeted prospecting, effective resume writing, and polished interviewing skills. She enjoys facilitating workshops and working one-on-one in career counseling.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 09, 2018 3:56 pm

4 thoughts on “Review These Interview Basics”

  1. What do you do when.. First interviewer was great, appeared very interested made very promising comments and suggested you meet with 2nd interviewer who tells you they like being up front and put everything on the table. They compliment you on your experiences and the fact that you continue to enhance your skills but then they say that your present job requirements are beneath you. They convince you that it’s ok to agree, it sounds better when someone else says it. Now you feel like they used that against you because before the interview was over they mention more than once that everyone wears numerous hats. They agreed to follow up but you dont hear anything, they also have not replied to your vm.

    1. Tina, you mention the interviewer’s concern about whether you were overqualified for the job and your agreement to that. When an interviewer has such concerns, your job is to demonstrate why you are a good fit for the job, what you can bring to it, and to the company. If the interviewer instead mentions another job that they think you might be better suited for, express interest in learning more about the opportunity and thank them for thinking of it, but then turn back to reminding them of your qualifications for the job you are currently interviewing for. Did you send follow-up thank you notes to each individual you spoke with after the interview? If not, do so immediately via email if this was fairly recent (weeks, not months). Do you think you’re a good fit and do you want the job? If so, follow up within a week or so of that thank you if you hear no response. In all of these communications do not be accusatory — “You told me you’d call and you haven’t,” is not a good approach. There could be any number of reasons they have not gotten back to you: The position could be on hold, they could be on vacation, they may not be interested. Be careful in your communications to be professional and positive, relating briefly why your qualifications are a good fit based on what you learned in the interviews, and that you’re still interested in the position. Meanwhile, don’t put your job search on hold waiting for a response. If there is no response, time to move on.

  2. I am getting ready for a up-coming opportunity. I recently inquired about doing some volunteer work “to get my foot in the door” of a company that I would enjoy working for very much. I received a call from one of the directors of the company. After a short conversation she seem to be impressed and requested my resume. After reading it, she stated ” instead of volunteering, how would you like to have full time paying position? Of course I replied YES!. Sounds good right… here’s the problem! The job doesn’t open until December. Additionally, she did not offer me the job, she only said that it will be opening, and I would be a good candidate to apply for it. My question is how do I stay in touch without sounding to pushy, and to let her know I am willing to wait for the job, but not to sound desperate?

    1. David, You want to present yourself as the best possible candidate for that position over the ensuing months. Are there any skills, certifications or other experience that you need to obtain or refresh to make you more qualified? The best way to stay in touch with the director is similar to how you would with others in your network – be in touch when there is something to share that’s relevant to the position or helpful to the director. You want to be visible and top of mind and demonstrate that you’re a qualified professional, but not a pest, as you say. If you obtain a new skill or certification that makes you even more qualified, share that. If you network with or meet others in the organization that can provide you with insights about the company, share that. You could aim for an every month or so update if your activity warrants it. But do these things to further your career, as you can’t plan your life around a job that may never become available. Good luck!

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