Many candidates think of the interview as merely a discussion and an evaluation of their technical abilities. In reality it is much more. An interview should be seen as a combination of the following:
- A fact finding opportunity for both you and the company.
- A time to convey the value you bring to prospective employers.
- A time to present skills, experiences, and personal strengths in a way that is tailored to the needs of the company.
- A time to sell your abilities and close the deal.
- An opportunity to determine if the situation is right for you.
An interview is not a semi-passive conversation during which you answer questions and then wait to see if you receive a job offer. It is a sales process and an evaluation opportunity that requires preparation. A Successful Interview is dependent on many factors. Among these are preparation, presentation and follow-up.
In much the same way as you might prepare for an exam, preparation for your interview will enable you to both address questions in the event they are asked and to participate actively and positively in the interviewing process. Anticipate what you are likely to be asked and prepare your answers. Obviously, your strengths and special skills are attributes which you will want to convey to your interviewer. It will be useful to make a list of your personal strengths and abilities. Knowing what is on that list will arm you for the types of questions you are likely to encounter. Being able to specifically detail your accomplishments is also very important. Identify your goals and be ready to demonstrate how the prospective organization relates to them. Remember that your interviewer may probe about longer-term expectations, so if you know where you would like to be 5 or 10 years from now you'll be able to answer more confidently. In anticipation of questions about any developmental needs, be prepared to explain how you might convert these to strengths in a different setting.
Research the Company you intend to interview with. Your FPC Of Hinsdale Consultant will help you understand the organization, its products and/or services, its clientele and its competition.
- Obtain company information by visiting web sites and reviewing annual reports and product literature. By referring to these during the interview, you let the company know that you have done your homework. This demonstrates preparation, initiative and your interest.
- Check to see if the company has been the subject of recent news. (You can find most of this on the web). Asking questions about recent corporate news will also show your interest and thoroughness.
- Check out their web site. You found ours, now it time to look for theirs. Show you are resourceful and interested in their organization.
- What can you find out about the managers you will interview with? Your recruiter should be a good source of information regarding the people you will meet. Where have they work before? How long have they been on board? How has their career developed? If possible, ask acquaintances and colleagues who may know and be sure to utilize social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook.
- Understand the company's mission and/or strategies so that you can present your credentials in a manner that will show hiring managers that you have the potential to be a valuable contributor.
- Prepare a list of good questions (some related to the job, others centering on more global corporate or business matters) based on all of the above and on your needs and interests. In order to be effective in the process, you must ask questions to be sure you fully understand the duties of the job and the short and long-term expectations. The answers will prepare you to relate your relevant accomplishments.
Beyond preparation, there are a few basic pointers to keep in mind in any interview situation including telephone interviews (Given the costs of flying candidates to the home office or plant, more and more companies use telephone interviews as a first step in the hiring process. Don't be put off by such an arrangement, but don't take it lightly. This is the first step toward a visit to the office.).
Dressing For Success
Your appearance will provide your interviewer with a first impression, even before you shake hands. Accordingly, dress, haircut, manicure and personal hygiene are essential in landing that new position.
Men should generally wear a conservative business suit, preferably dark blue or gray. A white or soft pastel shirt complemented by a tie is appropriate. Shoes should be well shined. Always carry a briefcase or portfolio. However, samples of work should usually be referred to but not presented unless asked for by the interviewer.
For women, suits and blouses are acceptable, as are tailored conservative dresses. Again, a briefcase or portfolio is preferable.
Some cautions: Men should avoid sport jackets, summer attire, and open collars. Women should steer clear of pant suits, slacks or jeans (designer or otherwise) and don't carry a large shoulder bag.
Last Minute Preparations
Up to this point, we've stressed preparation, planning and dressing for the interview. Now it's time to consider a few logistical steps that can make the difference between a successful interview and one that you'd care to forget:
- A day or two before your interview, call your FPC Of Hinsdale Consultant to confirm the time of your appointment and to get the spelling and pronunciation of your interviewer's name. It's also a good idea to obtain directions to the Company's offices, especially if they are in an area you are unfamiliar with.
- On the day of your interview, plan to arrive early. Punctuality makes a good impression, so allow extra time for traffic delays. If for some reason, you do find that you will be late, call your FPC Of Hinsdale Consultant to let him or her know that you will not be on time. Your consideration will be appreciated. When you arrive, it may be necessary to complete an application, even if we have already provided them with a copy of your resume. Regarding the question of salary expectations or requirements, it would be advisable to state "to be discussed."
It is at this moment that all of your advance preparation will pay dividends. Your appearance, your handshake, eye contact, confidence and your ability to both answer and ask questions will set the tone for a successful interview.
When you meet the person who will be interviewing you, smile, and greet him or her with a firm handshake. It is at this very moment that your evaluation has begun. An air of self-confidence will help to convince this individual that you can handle the stress typically associated with this first meeting. Be observant, and quickly try to establish good rapport.
Remember why you are there. Your objective is to get the job, or at least to go on to the next step in the process. Don't get lulled into a friendly conversation, no matter how comfortable it may seem. You are competing for a job in a world of many applicants. Maintain your edge.
Remember, the time that may be allocated for this meeting may, in fact, be short. So utilize this precious resource and convey your message clearly and concisely. Be both factual and sincere when stressing your achievements. While each interview is different, there are some questions which you are almost certain to be asked. Your potential employer may want to know more about your education and previous work history, why you are considering a career change, how you'd handle the responsibilities of the position in question, and how willing you are to relocate.
Be forthright. Answer questions directly, even if it means admitting that you don't know the answer. Usually, direct and honest responses will win out over vague and indirect attempts to deflect the interviewers question.
Be precise. Say exactly what you mean. Don't leave it up to the interviewer to "understand". Your message, your intent, may not survive the filter of someone else's interpretation so choose your words carefully. If you don't get your message across effectively, there will be no second chance.
When asked a question you don't understand, seek clarification and respond accordingly. The skills in your "personal inventory" -- the responses which you prepared before this interview -- will allow you to answer with confidence and sincerity.
Most interviewers are likely to ask pointed questions that can elicit potentially negative responses such as why you left your prior employers. Always answer honestly, but in doing so, try to respond positively. For example, if asked why you had previously changed jobs three time in a five year period, you might explain how each position offered a higher degree of challenge and fulfillment, and cite the accomplishments in each of those situations.
You should never be critical of your current or previous employers. To do otherwise may suggests disloyalty. Remember, it is possible to be assertive and yet still be tactful.
Questions To Ask... And What Not To Ask
As mentioned previously in the section regarding preparation, asking questions about the company is an excellent interview technique. You will want to make inquiries about the Company's current status and future growth plans. However, questions such as "What will be the most important priorities that I would faced if I were offered this position?" and "Why is this position open?" not only will show the individual you're interested, they will also provide you with valuable information that you will be able to utilize later in the interview. Also, be sure to ask questions regarding the outlook for the specific department and your future potential should you be offered the opportunity to join the Company.
Don't volunteer personal opinions. You don't know the person who is interviewing you or his/her personal feelings. Also, don't initiate the subject of compensation. Let them bring it up. However, you should be prepared to discuss the subject of compensation if it becomes part of the conversation.
Closing The Interview
Remember that you have been selling your capabilities and this will be the time to close the sale. If this interview is only the first in a multiple-step process, then ask to be considered for the next round. Organizations like applicants that demonstrate an interest in being a member of their TEAM. Keep in mind, all factors being equal, a Company will more likely prefer the candidate who shows interest by asking well thought out questions and by asking for the position over one who passively waits to hear the outcome.
Declare your interest
- Unless you are certain you do not want to work for this Company, at each interview, at each stage, as the discussions reach their natural conclusion, you will need to tell the interviewer you are interested and why.
- Based on your new understanding of the position and its duties, tell him/her what you can contribute. An interview is not the time to be shy. When discussing your experience, focus on personal accomplishments. Be specific and talk about achievements which relate to the responsibilities of the position in question. You have to build your case. Make it a compelling one.
- Ask to go on to the next step.
Immediately following the conclusion of the interview, call your FPC Of Hinsdale Consultant. It is important that we discuss your impressions of the meeting and your interest in the opportunity. This will allow us to more effectively represent you when we follow-up with the Company. It is also very important that you follow the interview with a short note to each of the individuals you met reiterating your interest and restating your attributes for the position.
If an offer is anticipated, your FPC Of Hinsdale Consultant will help you to carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages. In fact, your Consultant will be of help throughout the process to ensure you secure a position and compensation package that's right for you.