Preparing for the Face to Face Interview

BASIC INTERVIEW PREPARATION

 

An old cliché, yet an important point, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression!”
**Always remember to thoroughly prepare for the interview.**

 

You have reached the interview stage. They have asked you to come in to meet the team and tour the facility. At this point, they have already reviewed your resume in detail with us so they are knowledgeable about your employment history, background, skill set and strengths. The actual interview is a subtler, more subjective aspect of the job-hunting process. During the course of each interview, each person you meet will be forming an opinion of you and gauging your compatibility with the needs of the organization and more importantly their ability to work with you within that role. Bottom line – You’re trying to make a good impression!!

 

You need to be sincere, polite and enthusiastic about your knowledge of their company and the industry in order to secure the position.  Your resume may well have shown examples of your skills as a team player, but now you need to convince them that you fit their team. In order to make the best impression you can, you must be prepared, know what to expect and properly know how to handle things if they don’t go quite as you had planned.

 

Preparation

 

Research the Company:

  • Check out the company website. Know about their history and growth over the years.
  • Look them up in Google News/ Google them.
  • Check out other company profiles through websites like Hoovers or Yahoo finance.
  • Review any notes you have surrounding the interviewers you will meet. Try to understand their role within the organization and make sure you answer their questions with a bent toward their area of expertise.
  • Re-read the job description so you can fit your background most effectively to their needs.
  • Be ready with questions for each interviewer but focus on responsibility related issues not “what’s in it for me” questions.

 

Presenting Yourself

 

General Rules for Presenting Yourself:

  • Arrive fifteen minutes early to the interview.
  • Bring extra copies of your resume, references, notepad and pen.
  • Be polite to everyone you meet there. They all count.
  • Be personable as well as professional.
  • Do NOT chew gum, smoke, swear or use slang.
  • Do not answer questions with a simple “yes” or “no”. Sell yourself by using examples and paint a clear picture of where, when, how, what and why you did it.
  • Stress your achievements, records and accomplishments.
  • Answer all questions to the point; do not ramble on. Role play some responses before the interview. “Practice makes perfect!”
    • Do not make derogatory remarks about previous or present employers.
    • Avoid asking questions in regard to salary, commission, bonuses or vacation.
    • Tell your possible employer what you are going to do for them, NOT what they can do for you.
    • Always represent yourself honestly.

Proper Attire:

  • First Impressions are extremely important. The way you present yourself can be as important as what you say.
Talk to your search consultant, each company has different expectations, search consultant should be able to let you know what these are. As a general rule:
  • For a woman: A suit or conservative dress is appropriate. Minimal amounts of jewelry, makeup and perfume. Stylish low-heel shoes are best.

 

  • For a man: A conservative business suit, long-sleeved shirt and tie is the best option for an interview. Do not wear any jewelry, other than a wedding ring and a watch. Matching business-professional socks and polished shoes are very important, so do not forget to check yourself head to toe before you head out the door.

 

Some really good things to read and think about:

 

These next few pages are some excellent articles to read prior to going on any interview.  They were written by EXPERTS so they are very much worth heeding and applying to your interview.

 

 

Don’t Talk Too Much
by Michael Neece, founder of Interview Mastery
Monster Contributing Writer

The gift of gab can be something of a curse during an interview. You could end up talking your way right out of the job.

It’s important to remember that interviewers are only human, and their attention tends to wane as you speak. Fully understanding this is critical to effectively communicating during any interview. Your response should be less than a minute and a half when an interviewer asks you to “tell me about yourself.” Why? You’ll have that interviewer’s attention for just about 90 seconds.

The average interviewer’s attention span looks something like this:

  • As you begin speaking, the interviewer is listening with nearly full attention.
  • After about 10 seconds, he begins listening with less intensity.
  • After 60 seconds, his mind begins to wander and he’s devoting less then half his attention to you. The interviewer starts asking questions about your response or begins formulating his next question.
  • After you’ve been speaking for 90 seconds without interruption, the interviewer is barely listening at all.

An interviewer’s attention level can be nearly impossible to detect, because most people are skilled at nodding their heads and saying “hmmm” while looking at you, all in an effort to disguise their wandering minds. The longer you speak without interruption, the less attention the listener is giving you. Hence, when you provide a long answer that builds to an important conclusion, often the interviewer is no longer listening. This is particularly important when you respond to an interviewer’s request to tell him about yourself, because there is just so much you can say on the subject, and you can’t be sure what part of your background the interviewer is most interested in learning about.

Your Questions Are Key

Near the end of your response, it’s important to keep the interviewer engaged by asking questions.

Skilled interviewers will pose behavioral-event questions, asking you to describe specific examples of your experience. In these situations, your response can easily last much longer than 90 seconds. In such situations, interrupt yourself by asking the interviewer a question like, “Is this the level of detail you are looking for?” or “Is this the type of example you’re interested in?” This strategy helps to re-engage your listener and promotes two-way communication.

According to Kent Kirch, the global director of recruiting at Deloitte, interviewers are more impressed with your questions than any selling points you try to make. “What’s really disappointing to an interviewer is at the end of an interview and I ask the candidate, ‘Do you have any questions I can answer for you?’ and he says, ‘Nope, I think you answered them all,’ and that’s the end of it; it’s just really frustrating,” he says. “It all goes back to preparation, and [your questions] tells the interviewer you thought about this interview before you walked in the door.”

Asking questions can also give you a strategic edge. “People love to talk about themselves,” says Austin Cooke, the global recruitment director at Sapient. “So if you as a candidate can kind of get interviewers talking about themselves, you’re one step up.”

Your interview goals are to ensure you are understood and to make the best presentation of your talents. Engaging interviewers in two-way communication by asking questions helps you ensure they are listening while you deliver your response.

 

 

Six Interview Mistakes
by Michael Neece, founder of Interview Mastery
Monster Contributing Writer

It’s tough to avoid typical interview traps if you’re unsure what they are. Here are a half dozen to watch out for.

  1. Confusing an Interview with an Interrogation.

Most candidates expect to be interrogated. An interrogation occurs when one person asks all the questions and the other gives the answers. An interview is a business conversation in which both people ask and respond to questions. Candidates who expect to be interrogated avoid asking questions, leaving the interviewer in the role of reluctant interrogator.

  1. Making a So-Called Weakness Seem Positive.

Interviewers frequently ask candidates, “What are your weaknesses?” Conventional interview wisdom dictates that you highlight a weakness like “I’m a perfectionist,” and turn it into a positive. Interviewers are not impressed, because they’ve probably heard the same answer a hundred times. If you are asked this question, highlight a skill that you wish to improve upon and describe what you are doing to enhance your skill in this area. Interviewers don’t care what your weaknesses are. They want to see how you handle the question and what your answer indicates about you.

  1. Failing to Ask Questions.

Every interview concludes with the interviewer asking if you have any questions. The worst thing to say is that you have no questions. Having no questions prepared indicates you are not interested and not prepared. Interviewers are more impressed by the questions you ask than the selling points you try to make. Before each interview, make a list of five questions you will ask. “I think a good question is, ‘Can you tell me about your career?’” says Kent Kirch, director of global recruiting at Deloitte. “Everybody likes to talk about themselves, so you’re probably pretty safe asking that question.”

  1. Researching the Company But Not Yourself.

Candidates intellectually prepare by researching the company. Most job seekers do not research themselves by taking inventory of their experience, knowledge and skills. Formulating a talent inventory prepares you to immediately respond to any question about your experience. You must be prepared to discuss any part of your background. Creating your talent inventory refreshes your memory and helps you immediately remember experiences you would otherwise have forgotten during the interview.

  1. Leaving Your Cell Phone On.

We may live in a wired, always-available society, but a ringing cell phone is not appropriate for an interview. Turn it off before you enter the company.

  1. Waiting for a Call.

Time is your enemy after the interview. After you send a thank-you email and note to every interviewer, follow up a couple of days later with either a question or additional information. Contact the person who can hire you — not the HR department. HR is famous for not returning calls. Additional information can be details about your talents, a recent competitor’s press release or industry trends. Your intention is to keep everyone’s memory of you fresh.

 

 

Interviewers’ Pet Peeves
by Carole Martin
Monster Contributing Writer

You sit facing the interviewer, feeling like things are moving along nicely when all of a sudden the interview takes a drastic turn for the worse. What just happened? You may have hit one of the interviewer’s pet peeves, one of those things that automatically triggers a negative response.

Here are seven of the most common peeves provided by experienced interviewers, along with some tips on how to avoid them:

  1. Smells: Too Much of a Good Smell Can Be Bad

Pat Riley, author of Secrets of Breaking into Pharmaceutical Sales, has a pet peeve story to relate: “Preparing for an interview is not like preparing for a date. I had one interview with a woman who doused herself with perfume (the same perfume my ex-girlfriend used to wear) right before stepping into the small interview booth. The perfume was overpowering and brought back bad memories.”

  1. Communication: Too Little Leaves Interviewers Exasperated

“My number one interviewing pet peeve is an applicant who won’t talk,” says Steve Jones, a manager of client services at a software company in Dallas. “I try to ask open-ended questions and prod them for longer answers, but no luck. I’ve even mentioned to a few that I need more information so I can get an idea of where they’re coming from — still no luck. I always end the interview saying, ‘Now it’s your turn to ask questions,’ and still no luck; they don’t have any. Oh well — next!”

“Help me out here,” says Jones. “Come prepared to answer questions and talk about yourself.”

  1. Communication: Too Much Can Be Too Much

“Candidates who ramble are the ones who get to me,” says Dotti Bousquet of Resource Group Staffing in West Hartford, Connecticut. “Last week, I was interviewing a candidate and asked her one question. The candidate talked and talked and talked for 45 minutes straight. I was unable to stop her. I had to say, ‘Let’s wrap this up,’ and I stood up while she continued to talk. I walked to the door of the office and opened it. She left, but continued to talk while walking out the door.”

The lesson? “Candidates should stay focused, and answer the question asked — in less than two to three minutes,” advises Bousquet.

  1. Lack of Focus: Results in Losing the Interviewer

“Typically, candidates are simply too intimidated by the process,” says Mark Fulop, project director for a large nonprofit agency. “Relating the answer given to one question back with another — and asking clarifying or follow-up questions — shows me that the candidate is confident and thinking about the whole picture instead of enduring an interrogation.”

  1. Averting Your Eyes: One Way to Avert an Offer

“People who do not make any eye contact during the entire interview” irritate Gwen Sobiech, an agency recruiter in West Hartford, Connecticut. “I realize some people are shy, but to never look at me once — they look down, around, everywhere, but not at me for the entire interview. I find that extremely annoying. I also tend to distrust someone who will not look at me when I’ve asked a question.”

If you are uncomfortable looking into someone’s eyes, look at his “third eye,” just above and between the person’s two eyes.

This happened 6. Slang and Street Speak: Leave Them on the Street

“Poor communications skills really get to me,” says Robert Fodge of Power Brokers in Dover, Delaware. “What I mean by this is not merely their language fluency, but more about the use of language. Slang words and street speak just don’t have a place in most business environments. Also, candidates who say ‘um,’ ‘like’ and ‘uh’ between every other word lose my attention very quickly.”

  1. Deception: Little Lies Leave a Big Impression

One major complaint among recruiters is when a candidate is not completely truthful; small lies are all too common in the world of recruitment. This includes not being completely forthcoming with relevant information, embellishing accomplishments, hiding jobs or leading the process on with no intention of ever following through. Building trust during the interview is key to getting an offer.

 

 

Touring the Plant
by Carole Martin
Monster Contributing Writer

The process had gone well so far. Lindy was asked back for her fourth interview with the same company. Each of her visits lasted two grueling hours. This time she was scheduled to tour the building and manufacturing plant. Lindy was nervous because she’d never been through a plant tour before, and she didn’t know what to expect.

You’re Still Under the Microscope

When employers invite you to tour their facilities, it usually means they want to show off for you — let you know what they have to offer, and see how you react to the surroundings and culture.

The office tour may include introductions to key people in various departments. Make sure you walk and talk with confidence. You are still being looked at as a possible candidate.

Try to remember names as you are introduced, or better yet, get a business card. No matter what the person’s status, show an interest in the person and what part he plays in the company. Answer any questions asked, but be sure to ask questions too.

The Plant Tour

If there is a plant tour included, it will pay to think about what you wear. You might want to ask the interviewer for some guidance on attire prior to your tour. Assuming the dress is more casual, start with some comfortable walking shoes. This is a time to wear sensible, practical, clothing. You should be prepared to don a hardhat in some industries — yes, it messes up the hair, but is sometimes a safety requirement. When you walk through a plant you must be prepared for anything and everything — odors, noises, and hazards to walk over, under and through.

Be ready to deal with a different culture than you may have experienced in the office setting. You may be asked some questions you haven’t dealt with before. This is a good time to demonstrate how flexible you are and that you’re not easily intimidated. If this is the company and industry you are going to work for, you should see the whole process in order to understand the company’s business.

Take an Interest in Others and What They Do

A key factor in winning people over is to demonstrate an interest in them and what they do. Everything from your smile to your body language will indicate an acceptance or distaste for the situation, especially in unfamiliar territory such as a manufacturing plant. This is what this company does, and if you want to be a part of it, then you have to show an interest in the process and the people.

Turn Up Your Intuition

Use this time while touring an office or plant facility to check out the company’s pulse. Do the employees look happy, harried or busy? How do they react when introduced to you? Do you feel welcome or under suspicion? Are you willing to come to this place every day and interface with these folks? Listen to what is being said, and observe what you see and how you feel about the set up and the way the employees are interacting — turn up your intuitive powers.

 

Questioning the Interviewer

 

Even if you don’t ask any questions during an interview, many interviewers will ask you if you have any questions at the end. How you respond will affect their evaluation of you. So be prepared to ask insightful questions about the organization.

  • Making a list of any questions you have regarding the company is very important. However, this list should only contain questions you weren’t able to find out through your own research or through us. This will help you identify if this is the right position for you.

Good topics to touch on include:

  • The competitive environment in which the organization operates
  • Executive management styles
  • What obstacles the organization anticipates in meeting its goals
  • How the organization’s goals have changed over the past 3 years
  • What obstacles were commonly met in reaching corporate goals
  • What resources are available from the company and what must be found elsewhere to reach position objectives

Generally, it is not recommended to ask about compensation or benefits. Questions in this area make you seem more interested in what they can do for you and less enthusiastic about the position. Also, make sure you ask at least some questions so you don’t appear too passive in pursuing this opportunity.

The “ONE” question you must ask each interviewer:

The last question you should ask before concluding with any interviewer is this.

Do you feel I have the qualifications necessary to be successful in this position?”

Now listen very carefully to how the interviewer responds.  If they give you a resounding “yes”, you have done a good job of covering all the issues that are important to them.

If they say something like:

“You appear to have all the qualifications we’re looking for, but…”

Listen for that “but”, whatever comes afterwards is an area you need to re-strengthen their view of your background in; try to go over your experiences in that specific area one more time.  It can make all the difference in the world.

 

ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS TO ASK IN AN INTERVIEW

 

  1. Who are your major competitors, and how do they stack up against you in terms of produt, market share, methods of marketing, and strengths and weaknesses?
  2. Tell me about the history/growth of the company.
  3. In the recent history of the company, what has been the biggest advance and what has been the biggest setback?
  4. What is your highest priority within the next six months, and how could someone like me help?
  5. Tell me about a typical day.
  6. Tell me about your training program.
  7. What are the characteristics of your top people?
  8. Where do you see your company going in the next several years?
  9. What are three main qualities you are looking for in a candidate?
  10. How do you see me fitting in with your company?
  11. If I were to ask your top person what he/she likes most/least about the company, what type of responses would I get?
  12. How do I compare with other qualified applicants?
  13. Do you have any hesitations about me being successful with your company?
  14. What does your interview process entail?
  15. When may I return and meet some of the people with whom I would be working?
  16. What are your personal satisfactions and disappointments since you have been with the firm?

How to Answer These Tricky Interview Questions

 

Does the thought of going on a job interview cause your palms to sweat and your body to break out in hives?

Stop itching; you’re not alone.

The vast majority of job seekers admit to emotions ranging from mild uneasiness to downright panic leading up to their interviews. The good news is there have been no reported cases of job seekers who died of nervousness during a job interview. So relax and follow these simple tips for keeping your anxiety at bay before and during your interview.

First, take the proper amount of time to prepare for your interview. Being well-prepared will boost your confidence and lower your anxiety. Experts recommend that you spend at least three hours preparing for each interview.

You should draft answers to the most common interview questions and practice speaking them out loud. You also should read up on the company with which you will be interviewing and prepare some questions of your own. This lets the interviewer know that you are truly interested in the company and the position.

As a final step in your preparation, make sure you have good directions to the interview site. Some job seekers make a dry run to the interview site to ensure the directions are correct and to estimate the amount of time they will need to get to the interview on time.

Going into a job interview is often like entering the great unknown. Although every interviewer is different and questions vary from industry to industry, there are some questions that are common across the board. Reading through the following questions and developing your own answers is a good place to start in your preparation.

Once you have done that, remember practice makes perfect! Nothing impresses a potential employer like being ready for whatever is thrown your way.

 

Why should we hire you?

Here’s the chance to really sell yourself. You need to briefly and succinctly lay out your strengths, qualifications and what you can bring to the table. Be careful not to answer this question too generically, however. Nearly everyone says they are hardworking and motivated. Set yourself apart by telling the interviewer about qualities that are unique to you.

 

Why do you want to work here?

This is one tool interviewers use to see if you have done your homework. You should never attend an interview unless you know about the company, its direction and the industry in which it plays. If you have done your research, this question gives you an opportunity to show initiative and demonstrate how your experience and qualifications match the company’s needs.

 

What are your greatest weaknesses?

The secret to answering this question is being honest about a weakness, but demonstrating how you have turned it into a strength. For example, if you had a problem with organization in the past, demonstrate the steps you took to more effectively keep yourself on track. This will show that you have the ability to recognize aspects of yourself that need improvement, as well as the initiative to make yourself better.

 

Why did you leave your last job?

Even if your last job ended badly, be careful about being negative in answering this question. Be as diplomatic as possible. If you do point out negative aspects of your last job, find some positives to mention as well.

Complaining endlessly about your last company will not say much for your attitude.

 

Describe a problem situation and how you solved it.

Sometimes it is hard to come up with a response to this request, particularly if you are coming straight from college and do not have professional experience. Interviewers want to see that you can think critically and develop solutions, regardless of what kind of issue you faced. Even if your problem was not having enough time to study, describe the steps you took to prioritize your schedule. This will demonstrate that you are responsible and can think through situations on your own.

 

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

The secret to this question is being specific and selecting an accomplishment that relates to the position. Even if your greatest accomplishment is being on a championship high school basketball team, opt for a more professionally relevant accomplishment. Think of the qualities the company is looking for and develop an example that demonstrates how you can meet the company’s needs.

 

What are your salary expectations?

This is one of the hardest questions, particularly for those with little experience. The first thing to do before going to your interview is to research the salary range in your field to get an idea of what you should be making.

Steer clear of discussing salary specifics before receiving a job offer. Let the interviewer know that you will be open to discussing fair compensation when the time comes. If pressed for a more specific answer, always give a range, rather than a specific number.

 

Tell me about yourself.

While this query seems like a piece of cake, it is difficult to answer because it is so broad. The important thing to know is that the interviewer typically does not want to know about your hometown or what you do on the weekends. He or she is trying to figure you out professionally. Pick a couple of points about yourself, your professional experience and your career goals and stick to those points. Wrap up your answer by bringing up your desire to be a part of the company. If you have a solid response prepared for this question, it can lead your conversation in a direction that allows you to elaborate on your qualifications.

 

A Few Last Reminders

 

Line up your references in advance and verify that they will be good ones.

Follow up immediately with thank you emails to everyone that you interview with.

Your ultimate goal should be to go in there and make them want to give you an offer.  Remember an interview is not a fishing trip, trying to fish out information.  If you go in with that approach, you will often discover that you like all you hear about the company and opportunity. You may find you’ve been so focused on gathering information for yourself, you have forgotten to sell your abilities and now it is too late to give them the impression of yourself you wanted.

The company will be anxious to know how you thought the interview went so it is important that we talk as soon as possible so that I can pass along your feedback to them. So get back to me as quickly as you can… and a cell phone call in the parking lot is not too soon.

Good Luck!