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Articles > Interviewing & Resignation - Interviewing Techniques
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Interviewing & Resignation - Interviewing Techniques

By James Del Monte, C.P.C., JDA Professional Services, Inc.

Setting Your Goals

  • If you don't know what you are looking for, how will you know if you have found it?  Know where you want to go and what you want to gain.  Make a plan before you go to the interview.  Look at the job and ask yourself, "Will this job further my career?".  If the answer is no, then find a different interview.
  • Goals are dreams with time limits that can be measured.
  • Short-term goals - What do you want to accomplish this year?
  • Mid-term/Long-term goals - What do you want to accomplish in the next 3 to 5 years or beyond?  Is this the right job?  Establish the criteria for determining this.
Know What You Are Selling

  • You are the product that could provide the service to the company, and the company is the person who will hire you; you are the sales person.
  • Know what you are selling; it is easier to sell.
  • What have you done?  What skills, both professional and interpersonal, do you have to offer?  Take a personal inventory and figure out why a company would want you.
Candidate Preparation for the Interview

  • Prepare as much as you can.  This indicates to the employer how well you would prepare on the job.
  • Find out as much as you can about the company.  Come prepared with discussion topics on how you can help this particular company.
  • Be prepared to play by the company's rules.  They may require you to interview three people in one day or they may make you stay for three hours.  Every company is different, so be prepared to adjust to their interview habits.
  • Plan how you will dress for the interview.
  • Allow sufficient time for the interview.
  • Arrive at the interview early.
  • Keep a positive frame of mind.
  • Plan to go to the interview alone.
  • Prepare a list of questions.
  • Prepare a list of accomplishments.
What to bring:

  • Notebook.
  • Pad/pen.
  • Prepared questions - what you want to know about them.
  • List of strengths and accomplishments.
  • Examples of your work.
  • References with addresses and phone numbers.
  • Clean resume.
  • Salary history - start, stop, and promotion dates.
What to wear:

  • Men - dark suit, white shirt, conservative tie, clean shoes, no cologne.
  • Women - dark suit, conservative neckline, no perfume, conservative use of jewelry.

  • Get there 10 minutes early.
  • Complete application form in its entirety; leave salary as open.
  • Stand to greet interviewer; give a firm handshake and make eye contact.
  • If nervous, wash hands with warm water, and place a tissue or handkerchief in pocket to rub hands with.
  • Feed off the interviewer's body language (sit back or lean forward in chair as the interviewer does).
  • Pace your conversation.  Stay at a similar speed with the interviewer.
Tough Questions to Prepare For

  • "Why don't you begin by telling me about yourself?"
  • Response: "What would you like to know?", "Work history or family?".
  • "Do you have any questions?"
  • Response: Have questions prepared to ask.
  • "Do you object to overtime work?"
  • Response: "How much, how often?".  This will allow you to see if the overtime being asked of you is reasonable or not.
  • "Will you relocate?"
  • Keep in mind that most executives at the top level are willing to move.
  • "Why do you want to work for our company?"
  • Your research should help you with this question.
  • "Why are you considering leaving your position?"
  • Have reasons prepared.
  • Any salary-related questions.
  • See the salary section above.
  • "Are you willing to travel?"
  • Response: "How much, how often?".  Again, this will help you to determine how reasonable the travel will be.
Anatomy of an Interview

Covering the Objectives of a Successful Interview

  • The Objective: Get the job offer.  Never lose sight of this objective.  
  • If the offer is not extended then there is no decision for you to make.
  • You are not interviewing to decide if you would like to work for the company.
  • You are not interviewing to broaden your knowledge of available opportunities.
  • Leaving the impression that you are just "shopping around" is a fatal mistake.
  • Decide if you want the job after the interview when you are home with your goals.
  • Keep in mind that until you have the job offer, you are still the seller.  Most people move from being a seller to a buyer too fast.
What Are Employers Really Looking For?

  • Qualifications.
  • Optimistic and positive attitude.
  • Interest in the company and in the position.
  • Indications of longevity of service.
  • Leadership, analytical ability, continuous education and training.
Inside the Job Interview

The Arrival:
Be nice to everyone within a 5-mile radius, especially the receptionist. This person has the power to kill an offer.

The Initial Contact:
Firm handshake, enthusiastic hello and state your name fully. Maintain eye contact at all times.

The Ice Breaker:
Small talk before getting down to business. Family, interests. Don't talk about personal problems.  
Get on a first-name basis with the interviewer, subtly and slowly.

The Chronological Interview:
The most common type of interview. Controlled by the interviewer. Backward history of positions previously held.  Always try and turn it into a topical interview.

The Topical Interview:
To change to a topical interview, pose a question such as "What will my first assignment be?" This begins the discussion of the topic that brought you and the employer together in the first place.  Your preparation will come into play at this point; remember it is easier to sell somebody something when you know what you are selling.   Therefore be ready to:
  • Relate your experience to each activity the employer is looking for in a candidate.
  • Ask questions to define what they want done.
  • If you lack the experience, relate the knowledge they hold.
  • Voice a keen interest in subjects that they are lacking in both experience and knowledge. Show examples of fast learning.
  • Miss no opportunity to compliment the interviewer's approach to problems.
  • Speak and act as if you already have the position. Wills and cans not woulds or coulds. Never speak negatively.
  • What challenges, difficulties, or problems will there be?
  • What kind of value will you bringing to the company?
Be an analyst - ask questions to identify what they want you to do; problems they are having, the tasks at hand.
Solve the problem with your specific experience or personal strengths.
Stay directed to their needs - tie your accomplishments and strengths to their needs.

Job Interview Do's

  • Ask questions about what you can do for them, not what's in it for you - they will tell you what's in it for you.
  • Stay focused on this position and the need they have today.
  • Fit into their group.
  • Have a positive attitude (optimism, a view of problems as challenges).
  • Have an interest in doing what they are doing.
  • See themselves as a long-term investment/employee.
Common Mistakes

  • Losing sight of the interview objective.
  • Being too modest.
  • The exit - When you leave, leave. Don't go back.
  • Not following up with thank-you notes or email.
  • Asking too many "me" questions.
  • Failure to sell your abilities throughout the interview process.
  • Telling jokes.
  • Not interviewing with confidence.
Give examples of your experience (Problem/Action/Result)

For example:
Problem: Company needs a Web presence.
Action: You did research, defined goals, and implemented the Web site.
Result: 30% increase in sales.

Reason for leaving present employer:

  • When asked about your reason for leaving your present position, answer with a positive statement about your job/company/people.  If you are negative about your former position, then the interviewer will think that you will be negative about this company.
  • Speak highly of your employers and your experience.  You never know who worked where.

Salary is important to most people, however it is not the only consideration.  Most times there are more important thingw.  When asked about expected salary, package your answer with:

  • Opportunity.
  • Benefits.
  • $$$$.
  • Advancement.
  • Training.
  • Other criteria that are important to you.
  • Tell them what you currently make, base, bonus, raises/reviews, and promotions.
  • Make sure that they understand your current compensation and the acceptable range you are willing to take.
  • Close with, "I would like your best offer".
After the Interview

Closing With Confidence

  • Ask if the interviewer believes you are qualified for the position.
  • If the answer is no: ask what area or concerns caused this.  Specific examples might not have come out during the interview.  If this is the case, use this situation to relate your experience.
  • If the answer is yes: follow with a statement that leaves no doubt that you can handle the position.
  • Make a statement that the position is exactly what you're looking for and that you would like to have an offer.
  • If appropriate, as you prepare to leave, tell the employer you would enjoy working with him personally.
Ask for the Job

  • It is up to you to let them know you are interested. Ask if they think you can do the job. Let them know why you can do the job and are interested in working for them. Set up the next meeting or ask to receive an offer.
Follow-Up After the Interview

  • It is customary to send a card, note or email thanking them for the interview. This gives you one more chance to highlight your experience and what you can do for them.

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