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Interviewing Tips

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Interviewing is a learned skill! What gets you the job is how comfortable the employer is about you as a person (chemistry created during the interview) and your experiences (how well you were able to discuss those experiences and how those experiences benefit them). Use the power of “I” in your interview statements to show you personally stand behind what you say. In your interview, try to match your accomplishments with the company’s accomplishments. Avoid using the word “try” in an interview. It can give you a way out if you fail. Say you don’t know, but will learn. Be passionate about what you do.Be truthful and show ambition, and a willingness to work hard.

Here are some additional interviewing tips that will help you.

  1. Prepare, prepare, prepare and prepare some more. You will be better off being over prepared. The last thing you want to happen is to leave an interview and kick yourself because you were not prepared.
  2. Make sure you bring extra copies of your resume, references, references letters, certifications, etc.
  3. During the 1st interview, you should only ask questions that pertain to the position you are interviewing for. Do not ask questions about salary, benefits, vacation, etc.
  4. When answering questions, try to give examples or tell a short story. Avoid answering with a “yes” or a “no”.
  5. You will be judged on the quality of the questions you ask, not by the number of questions you ask. Ask smart questions.
  6. Be thorough with your answers, but not “long winded”.
  7. Exhibit a positive attitude. Show interest in the opportunity and the company.
  8. Research the company thoroughly. Try to come up with an “ice breaker”, something you and employer may have in common. Try this within the first 5 minutes of the interview.
  9. Dress appropriately for your interview. Have good eye contact, posture and a firm handshake. The first impression you make is still the most important one.
  10. Before you leave your interview, ask if the interviewer has a clear understanding of your experiences, if not, try to clear up any area of uncertainty.
  11. Always follow up after an interview. Email is the preferred way.

Body Language – Do’s and Don’ts of job interviews

The old adage, “It’s not what you say, its how you say it,” and “when you say it” still holds meaning, even if you’re not talking. You need to effectively communicate your professionalism both verbally and nonverbally.

Because watching your nonverbal cues, delivering concise answers and expressing your enthusiasm at once can be difficult when you’re nervous, here’s a guide to walk you through it:

Don’t:

  • Rub the back of your head or neck. Even if you really do just have a cramp in your neck, these gestures make you look disinterested.
  • Rub or touch your nose. This suggests that you’re not being completely honest, and it’s gross.
  • Sit with your arms folded across your chest. You’ll appear unfriendly and disengaged.
  • Cross your legs and idly shake one over the other. It’s distracting and shows how uncomfortable you are.
  • Lean your body towards the door. You’ll appear ready to make a mad dash for the door.
  • Slouch back in your seat. This will make you appear disinterested and unprepared.
  • Stare back blankly. This is a look people naturally adapt when they are trying to distance themselves.

Do:

  • Sit up straight, and lean slightly forward in your chair. In addition to projecting interest and engagement in the interaction, aligning your body’s position to that of the interviewer’s shows admiration and agreement.
  • Show your enthusiasm by keeping an interested expression. Nod and make positive gestures in moderation to avoid looking like a bobblehead.
  • Establish a comfortable amount of personal space between you and the interviewer. Invading personal space (anything more than 20 inches) could make the interviewer feel uncomfortable and take the focus away from your conversation.
  • Limit your application of colognes and perfumes. Invading aromas can arouse allergies. Being the candidate that gave the interviewer a headache isn’t going to do anything in your favor.
  • If you have more than one person interviewing you at once, make sure you briefly address both people with your gaze (without looking like a tennis spectator) and return your attention to the person who has asked you a question.
  • Interruptions can happen. If they do, refrain from staring at your interviewer while they address their immediate business and motion your willingness to leave if they need privacy.
  • Stand up and smile even if you are on a phone interview. Standing increases your level of alertness and allows you to become more engaged in the conversation.

Say Goodbye Gracefully

Make sure your goodbye handshake is just as confident now as it was going in. Keep that same interview face on until you are a safe distance from your interview location.

Answering the Tough Interview Questions

Anticipating the questions you are about to be asked before an interview can be very nerve racking. To avoid an interview disaster, take a look at these interview questions and their suggested responses

Q: “What are your weaknesses?”
Take a potential weakness and put a positive spin on it.

A: “I am very detail oriented and in some industries that may not be a good fit. But for this position, I think this trait truly will help me excel.”

Q: “Tell me about a problem you encountered and how you were able to resolve it?”
You may want to be prepared to discuss a couple. Everyone has encountered problems in the workplace and your ability to resolve problems could land you the job.

A: “Our project was behind schedule by several months and with the help of the Engineers and Architects we developed some value engineering concepts that got us back on schedule.”

Q: “Why did you leave your last job?”
Be honest. But don’t bash your previous employer.

A: “The company just wasn’t a good fit for my personality. But what I learned is that organizations have distinct personalities just like people do. Now I know to concentrate my job search on companies who may fit my personality.”

Q: “Why do you want to work here?”
Do your homework.

A: “The research that I have done shows me that you invest in training, the company is financially stable and is growing.”

Q: “Tell me about yourself.”
This is a chance for you to shine — but not to tell your life history. Begin by listing your traits and accomplishments you feel are relevant for the position. Don’t delve into personal information unless it relates to the position you’re vying for.

A: “I am very disciplined and resourceful. I have been a manager for the past five years and used my creativity to devise unique incentives to keep our projects on schedule and under budget. Because of this we have received outstanding recommendations from our clients.”

Q: “Take me through a typical day or week on the job”
Be as thorough as possible without being long winded.

A: “I begin by reviewing the previous days accomplishments and then begin to look ahead at the daily schedule. I have communicated with other on the job for updates or problems that may have occurred…..”

Eight Worst Things to Say in an Interview

Interviews are nothing if not opportunities to drive yourself crazy. Just remind yourself to look good, appear confident, say all the right things and don’t say any of the wrong ones. If you walk into the interview prepared, you can make sure you know what right things to say, and you can stop yourself from saying the following wrong things.

  1. “I hated my last boss.”

    Your last boss was a miserable person whose main concern was making your life miserable. Of course you don’t have a lot of nice things to say; however, don’t mistake honesty, which is admirable, for trash-talking, which is despicable.

    If you truly did hate your last boss, be prepared to articulate why your last organization and relationship was not right for you. Then be prepared to explain what type of organization is right for you and what type of management style you best respond to.

  2. “I don’t know anything about the company.”

    Chances are the interviewer will ask what you know about the company. If you say you don’t know anything about it, the interviewer will wonder why you’re applying for the job.

    With today’s technology, there is no excuse for having no knowledge of a company except laziness and/or poor planning.

  3. “No, I don’t have any questions for you.”

    Much like telling the interviewer that you don’t know anything about the company, saying you don’t have any questions to ask also signals a lack of interest. Perhaps the interviewer answered every question or concern you had about the position, but if you’re interested in a future with this employer, you can probably think of a few things to ask.

    Research the company before you show up. Understand the business strategy, goals and people. Having this type of knowledge will give you some questions to keep in your pocket if the conversation is not flowing naturally. If you ask only one question, ask what do you expect from the person you hire for this position.

  4. “I’m going to need to take these days off.”

    We all have lives and commitments and any employer that you would even consider working for understands this. If you progress to an offer stage, this is the time for a discussion regarding personal obligations. Just don’t bring it up prior to the salary negotiation/offer stage.

    Why? By mentioning the days you need off too early in the interview, you risk coming off presumptuous as if you know you’ll get the job.

  5. “How long until I get a promotion?”

    While you want to show that you’re goal-oriented, be certain you don’t come off as entitled or ready to leave behind a job you don’t even have yet.

    There are many tactful ways to ask this question that will show an employer that you are ambitious and looking at the big picture. For example, asking the interviewer to explain the typical career path for the position is fine.

    Another option is to ask the interviewer why the position is open. You might find out it’s due to a promotion and can use that information to learn more about career opportunities.

  6. “Are you an active member in your church?”

    As you attempt to make small talk with an interviewer, don’t cross the line into inappropriate chitchat. Avoid topics that are controversial or that veer too much from work.

    This sounds obvious but many times I have been interviewing candidates and been asked about my personal hobbies, family obligations, etc. Attempting to develop a rapport is essential but taking it too far can bring you into some uncomfortable territory.

  7. “Sounding rehearsed”

    Scripted answers, although accurate, don’t impress interviewers. Not only do they make you sound rehearsed and stiff, they also prevent you from engaging in a dialogue.

    This is a conversation between a couple humans that are trying to get a good understanding of one another. Act accordingly.

  8. “And another thing I hate…”

    Save your rants for your blog. When you’re angry, you don’t sway anybody’s opinion about a topic, but you do make them like you less. For one thing, they might disagree with you. They also won’t take kindly to your bad attitude.

    If you are bitter, keep it inside and show optimism. Start complaining and you will be rejected immediately. Do you like working with a complainer? Neither will the interviewer.

Job seekers today are masters of preparation. By the day of the interview, you’ve memorized both the company’s financial results and the names of the hiring manager’s children. You’re ready to answer tough questions and tell your life story – all while making intense eye contact and smiling warmly. You’re so good, it’s almost impossible to resist hiring you.

So, once you get the job, why aren’t you happy? After only a few months, you often begin a downward spiral of dissatisfaction. This happens because you don’t ask the questions that really matter. In your intensity to get the offer, you spend too little time learning whether the job, the boss and the company are right for you.

This approach is not for the faint of heart – these are the tough questions. But if you’re determined to make the next chapter of your career a long and successful one, you should focus on those aspects that will sustain your passion and provide career fulfillment.

It’s a matter of trust.

A company that can be trusted will clearly define its core values and live by them. To be truly meaningful, these values will be part of the company’s culture instead of merely listed on its Web site. During the interview, ask questions such as:

  • What are the core values of this company?
  • Can you give me a personal example of how these values guide your decisions?
  • Do you believe the company’s actions are consistent with these values?
  • Would the people who work for you say that you could be trusted?

The answers you hear should include real examples of how values guide the day-to-day actions of the interviewer and her team. Programs that recognize employees who exemplify the values will also show you what behavior the company rewards.

Public positions, such as printing the values on business cards, also illustrate this emphasis. Companies that regularly measure alignment with their values through anonymous surveys have the most powerful method for ensuring real consistency between words and actions. Look for not only the measurements, but also how publicly the results are shared.

Rely on your involvement and your contribution.

Companies that want employees to be fully committed will encourage high participation and open discussion in how goals are set and decisions are made. Ask questions such as:

  • Can you tell me the company’s three most important goals for this year?
  • How involved will I be in setting my personal goals and the goals for my team?
  • Can you give me a recent example of a decision where I would have been consulted?
  • Do the people who work for you ever tell you that you’re wrong?

Look for methods and a mindset that encourage employees to offer feedback on decisions, even high-level ones. Once the overall goals are set, great companies allow teams to establish their own goals — so long as they are in alignment. This is because they know that the greater the employee involvement, the greater their commitment will be.

If nourished, you will grow.

Look for a company that invests in the individual. Employees who care deeply about their work are almost always found working for companies that care deeply about them. Ask questions such as:

  • Are you able to balance your life outside of work while growing your career at this company?
  • Can you give me a personal example of work-life balance that the company supported?
  • Will you, or another member of the leadership team, be a mentor for me?
  • Would the people who work for you say that you genuinely care about them?

Look to hear answers that include a passionate willingness to invest in the careers and lives of each employee through professional development programs, work-life balance training, and mentoring. The result will be an organization where you are passionate about using your talents and skills, a company you can believe in, and one where you’re proud to work.

Asking these questions will ensure that your next opportunity represents not only the next great chapter in your career, but also in your life. In the end, both you and the company will reap the rewards.