Sunday, October 21, 2007

Suggestions for a successful interview

My nephew-in-law is going for a job interview tomorrow for a position in his current company but in a different part of the US. In my previous position with a company I worked for, I conducted several interviews and also exit interviews. Having experienced some good interviewees' and not so good, I offered to give him some suggestions from my experiences that will help him to be aware of some things that are looked at when interviewing.

Here are some areas to be aware when trying to achieve a successful interview:

  1. Dress to impress. How you appear to the person interviewing you is very important. I have interviewed people and told them to dress casual and they still wore a suit. What this action indicated to me is that the person recognized how important the interview was and dressed to impress me.
  2. At introduction shake hands firmly (no limp-handed shake), smile, speak clearly, and look each person in the eye. Do not come across as shy. From what little time I have been around you I do not think you will have a problem in this area.
  3. Be prepared with several copies of your resume, along with references. Do not use the standard resume from MS Office. Be creative and make yours stand out.
  4. When questioned about some of your co-workers or supervisor, always speak truthfully but never negatively. Do not tell stories on them but you can say things like “their work ethic was not the same as mine” or “I prefer to perform my duties in a different manner”.
  5. The same goes for questions about your previous employment. Never speak negatively about a past employer.
  6. Know your strengths before you walk in the room. Right now you can probably name some of your greatest strengths but when you walk in the room you may be so nervous you will forget them. Write them down and read and re-read them.
  7. Know your weaknesses and describe them as strengths. Pick a weakness that is really a strength. For example, you might say, "One of my weaknesses is that I tend to be impatient with people who aren't willing to pull their full weight and give 110%." In this case, your "weakness" may help you get the job.
  8. Ask questions. Write down questions you need answered and take them with you.
  9. Follow up. Very important to send a follow up email thanking them for the time and interview. One time I did interviews in Columbia, MD, and the person I interviewed bought me a t-shirt and a thank you card to the interview. I was so impressed with the creativeness of this action that I hired this person. Follow up allows you to stand out in a sea of applicants. Be creative in how you do it.
  10. Never talk salary unless requested by the interviewor. If they ask what your salary range is, speak more of your experience and what you have to offer. Let them make the first offer. Know the range of compensation for the job you're seeking, make your own realistic determination of what you're worth, and then be prepared to stand your ground.

The most successful interviews are those that the person comes in prepared and shows confidence. A job interview is an important step in the process of winning the career you want so act on it accordingly. No matter if you have interviewed one time or ten times, each time is just as important as the other. Learn from your experiences and make each one better than the other.

Carole DeJarnatt
Alliance Advisors, Inc.

P.S. If you are in need of advice to help you have a successful interview process, visit the company website and contact me.

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