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Ingredients for a Successful Interview

Preparation | Asking Questions | Answering Questions | The Interview | Closing | Afterward

Preparation for the Interview:

Do prepare the questions you will ask during the interview.
The greatest way to become known as a good conversationalist is to ask a leading question and let the other person speak.

Here are a few questions to begin with:

1. A detailed description of the position?

2. Reason the position is available?

3. Anticipated training program and timetable?

4. Company growth plans?

5. How does this department help run the firm?

6. What kind of projects would I work on?

7. Tell me about the people I will be working with?

8. What authority will I be given?

9. What will you expect of me?

10. What will be my first assignment?

Do dress in business attire. Even if you are interviewing at a casual dress company, unless you are told otherwise, jacket and tie for men, suits for women. Dress to impress.

Do plan to arrive for your interview ten to fifteen minutes early. Many companies have you fill out an application prior to an interview. This way your paperwork will be accomplished and your interview will start on time.

Do prepare for tough questions such as:

1. How would you describe yourself?

2. What did you think of your last boss? HINT: Never speak badly of a prior supervisor!

3. Why have you left your previous positions? HINT: Again, never speak poorly of prior companies.

4. Where do you see yourself five years from now? HINT: Ask for the organizational chart before answering this question, it will give you a clue as to where they expect you to be in five years.

5. Tell me something about yourself.

6. Have you ever failed? HINT: Convey your failures as learning experiences rather than defeats.

7. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

8. How much money do you want? I need an exact figure? HINT: Never discuss exact dollar figures at the interview. Instead, tell the interviewer that you will entertain the company's best offer.

9. What is the most difficult thing you have ever done?

10. Which qualifications do you feel make you a better candidate for this job than anyone else?

11. But you've already done this work. What makes you think you would be interested in staying with us?

12. Are there any other questions you might have before I let you go?

13. What are your future goals?

Asking Questions:

Proper and adequate preparation will assist you in formulating your questions. Prior to the interview, research the company.

1. General Questioning Guidelines

Have a list.
Don't cross-examine.
Focus your questions on the job.
Ask questions that require an explanation.
Don't interrupt.

2. Interest questions are job relevant and show your intrigue in:

The job opportunity.
The company and its products and services.
People, subordinates, peers, superiors.

3. Job satisfaction questions testify to your motivation to do the job and focus on:

Meaningful work (the importance of the job).
Your responsibilities and accompanying authority.
Recognition for superior performance.
Career potential.

4. Past performance questions serve a dual purpose, they enable you to avoid making a wrong decision and help sell your candidacy. They concentrate on:

People who previously held the position.
Their performance.
Where they are today.

5. Sales questions enable you to determine the kind of person the employer wants to hire in terms of:

Future performance.
When you understand the kind of person the employer wants to hire, you can then say:
"I can do the job because I've done it before and I've done it well."
Describe your compensating assets and/or education.

6. Ask for the job!

"I know I can be an asset to your company and would like the opportunity to join your team"

7. Avoid questions relating to:

Ask these questions freely when the job is offered and not before.

In sum, when asking employers questions:

Avoid salary and fringe benefits questions.
Ask the interest questions.
Ask job satisfaction and past performance questions.
Ask sales questions.
Always ask for the job.

Answering Questions:

Your answers to questions that employers ask will influence the hiring decision. When answering questions, follow the Question-Answering Rule:

Answer every question in terms of your background and qualifications or in terms of the job to be filled.

The types of questions employers ask:

1. "Tell me about yourself" means "Tell me about your qualifications." Pre-plan a five minute answer, then when asked the question:

2. Describe your education.

3. Mention each of your jobs in terms of accomplishments or performance indicators.

4. State your educational background, work credentials and qualifications, special achievements or awards. Be concise and brief.

5. Personality questions attempt to determine if you have qualities being sought.

6. "What kind of manager are you?"

7. "Are you creative?"

8. "Can you do the job?"

Answer personality questions in term of the obvious answer supported by past or present experience as proof of your claim.

Motive questions attempt to determine if you will enjoy doing the job.

1. "Describe your ideal job"

2. "Would you prefer to work for a large of small company?"

3. "What did you like most/least about your last job?"

4. Answer motive questions by again following the Question-Answering Rule. Answer in terms of your qualifications or the job to be filled. Don't be vague. Be specific. Be emphatic

The Interview:

Do fill out the application forms neatly and completely.

Do greet the interviewer by surname if you are sure of the pronunciation. If you are not, ask for it to be repeated.

Do shake hands firmly.

Do wait until you are offered a chair before sitting. Sit upright in your chair, look alert and interested at all times. Be a good listener as well as a good talker.


Don't smoke even if the interviewer smokes and offers you a cigarette.

Don't chew gum.

Do maintain good eye contact throughout your interview, this conveys confidence.

Do follow the interview's leads, but try to get the interviewer to describe the position and the duties to you early in the interview so that you can relate your background and skills to the position.

Don't answer questions with a simple "yes" or "no". Explain whenever possible. Tell those things about yourself that relate to the situation.

Do make sure that your good points get across to the interviewer in a factual, sincere manner. Keep in mind that you alone can sell yourself to an interviewer. Make the interviewer realize the need for you in the organization.

Do be prepared to answer typical questions truthfully, frankly, and as "to the point" as possible.

Don't ever make derogatory remarks about your present or former employers or companies.

Don't "over answer" questions. The interviewer may steer the conversation into politics or economics. Since this can be a ticklish situation, it is best to answer the questions honestly trying not to say any more than necessary. Never talk more than two minutes.

Don't inquire about salary, vacation, bonuses, retirement, etc. This will be covered with you in detail by the recruiter prior to acceptance of any offer. If the interviewer asks what salary you want, indicate that you are more interested in opportunity than in a specific salary.

Do always conduct yourself as if you are determined to get the job you are discussing. Never close the door on opportunity.

Closing the Interview:

Do ask for the position if you are interested. Ask for the next interview if the situation demands. If the position is offered to you, and you want it, accept it on the spot. If you wish time to think it over, be courteous and tactful in asking for that time. Set a definite date when you can provide an answer.

Don't be too discouraged if no definite offer is made or specific salary discussed. The interviewer will probably want to communicate with the office first.

If you get the impression that the interview is not going well and that you have already been rejected, do not let your discouragement show. Often an interviewer who is genuinely interested in your possibilities may seem to discourage you in order to test your reaction.

Express thanks for the interviewer's time and consideration of you.

If you have gotten the following two points across:

1. Why you are interested in the company.

2. What you can offer.

You have done all you can.

Ask for a business card before you leave from any and all interviews. This way when you send thank you notes you have correct name spellings and titles. Always send thank you notes in a timely fashion, generally no later than 48 hours after the interview.

Your last question to the interviewer should always inquire about the next step in the process. The interviewer's feedback is a great clue as to their intentions to go forward with you.

After the Interview:

Call your recruiter immediately and communicate what transpired. The recruiter will want to talk to you before the interviewer calls back. If you are interested in the position, your recruiter will help you get it.


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