Updated: Mar 21
The big news!
You’ve been grinding and grinding with resume buffs, job applications, networking and the finally it happens – you got an interview request! Major adrenaline boost and then moments of anxiety and uncertainty leading up to that exciting and frightening date.
Much of stress can be related to lack of preparation so make sure you are as prepared as you can be. You want to “win” the interview and you also want to ensure you don’t let yourself down by doing less than your best. Some preparation elements are basic- know the company as well as possible, know as much as you can about the job itself and so forth. With that under control, what about planning and tactics for the interview itself? Here are some insights from one who has done a great many interviews and has coached those on “both sides of the table”.
Confident and brave
Confidence is an important and sought after asset. It is good to have a strong self worth and a healthy ego so bring your ego to the interview, but keep it in check!
Think back to when you were growing up...you were taught (at least most of us were), to keep your ego in check, right? Well, if you have attended any of our interviewing coaching sessions, and if we noticed that you were pretty quiet, we may have encouraged you to take that ego out and BRING IT! :) BUT...keep it in check.
For the majority of jobs that you will be interviewed for, you will not be the only interview candidate. There is a lot of competition. You must show that you are the right fit and to do that, you may need to dust that ego off and bring it into the interview room. Do make sure you can fit it through the doorway though! It is important to have some key and impressive accomplishments that relate to the job to work into your answers and into your interview. You want to show the interviewer that you are the best person for the job. However, if that ego is overinflated, you risk being offensive, and may even come off sounding like the job is beneath you. Here are some general tips:
1. Look for the key competencies that the job requires and ensure to have an impressive accomplishment to highlight somewhere in your interview answers on these requirements.
2. Think about what it would be like sitting on the other side of the table as the interviewer and listening to your responses. How would you feel listening?
3. Don't cut the interviewer off while they are describing the duties of the job and say things like "Yes, I am very familiar with the duties as they are the same as in my previous role." Or say similar comments. The interviewer will most likely then wonder why you left your other role...wonder what it is that will inspire and motivate or challenge you in this role and may also think that you are wrong. Each company is unique, though you may have had a similar role in the past, the processes, the way things are done, the culture, the goals etc., will most likely be different at this company.
4. Respond to the interviewers’ questions ensuring you demonstrate that you have the skills necessary to excel in the role but be careful not to sound like you have nothing to gain or learn by taking the role. This may mean to the interviewer that you are overqualified, you think you are overqualified, or that you might just be looking to take the job while you look for something else. Interviewers like to know that you have what it takes to do the job, but that you also are interested in the role and excited about learning.
You are human, you are talented, you have skills, but you are not the only talented, skilled human. Don't forget this.
5 Tips for Answering Interview Questions
Some businesses are built around coaching job seekers on interview best practices - ours included! Many candidates dread the interview process and become a pile of nerves as soon as their name is called. Interviewers know this and are used to this. We know that for most people, the interview is an uncomfortable time. We have given and will continue to give you lots of tips around interviewing best practices and thought for this article we would concentrate on some general tips that should be kept in mind when answering each question.
1. Do your preparation ahead of time. Look for the common interview questions and have lots of answers prepared.
2. Ensure to work your top accomplishments and impressive items into your answers.
3. Stick to the point. Often we see interview candidates go off on tangents and even ask to have the question repeated after they have been talking for a solid 5 minutes.
4. Don't hog the interview, if the interviewer has stopped making notes, they probably have what they are looking for - they will ask you for more examples if they need them.
5. Wrap up your answers. Think about your answer like a very short story. A story starts with a quick intro, the points and then wraps up by rounding off the question.
Think about being on the other side of the table. You are there to find out if the candidate is indeed the best fit for the role. You want to have a positive experience with the candidate, be engaged and see a natural fit. Ensure you now -as the candidate- show the interview that you are this fit.
Practice, practice, practice. Be positive, smile when you answer and give eye contact. You can do it!
To ask or not to ask questions at the job interview?
Heck yes...but don't overwhelm them and ensure to wait for your turn! Absolutely prepare a few questions - 3 max - to have ready such that you can ask the interviewer(s) at the end of the interview. A couple of things to mention here...
Having questions prepared shows the interviewer that you have indeed done some research and that you are interested in the role and company.
Make sure your questions are thoughtful, meaning that you really have researched the role and company and are genuinely interested in the answer.
Don't overwhelm them with a whole page of questions, this is too much and may actually work against you. Pick three of your most burning questions.
Wait until the end - don't jump in whenever you get a chance to ask a few of them - this takes the interview off track and can distract/frustrate the interviewer from the job they have set out to do.
What questions should you ask? Well, typically it depends on how much you already know about the company and the position and this can very much depend on the available information from the ad itself or company website, however here are a few suggestions to consider:
What types of training/continuing education opportunities do you offer?
· Can you tell me how this role relates to the overall strategy of the company?
· I have noticed that you have recently - i.e. merged with XYZ or introduced a new product line or..... How do you feel this will impact the company?
· Are you able to tell me about the next steps in your interview process?
· What would you say constitutes success with this position and with the company?
· What is a typical day or week like in the role of this position?
· What are the short and long term goals for the company?
· My understanding is that the top three requirements for this role are: x, y, z, is this correct? Do you see any reason that I may not be the right fit for this role given that I have this experience? OR Do you see any gaps in my experience and education that I would need to fill?
Being prepared and respectful of time is key. Do your research, have your questions written down and knock their socks off with your interviewing skills.
Pull it together and polish
If you are worried or uncomfortable about the interviews, try practicing until it feels more natural. Enlist a few friends and interview each other. Look to internet resources (hint – like yourpathfinders.com) for insight into how to answer interview questions and what hiring managers are looking for. There are also interview coaches who can add that top level of polish and confidence. Learn the “do’s” and “don’ts” of interviews. Make your best impression. Blow them away…land your future.
Christie Ferguson, CHRP, CHRL runs an independent HR consulting firm with a broad range of services. She has extensive experience with hiring and hiring support services for individuals and employers.
Web site: http://www.1stophrconsulting.com/