General Preparation Information
It may seem silly, but it is important to ‘Rehearse” what you will say. Even what seems like the most basic questions can be difficult if you are not prepared. Hopefully, the information provided in this document will make for a comfortable conversation and positive interview experience. The more you rehearse, the more naturally the conversation will flow. You will be more at ease, and prepared. Please review these pointers, and suggestions, that will help you get through the process in an enjoyable and productive manner.
BASIC INTERVIEW PREPARATION:
What is needed for all interviews:
- Address of company and phone number for initial contact person (in case you are running late)
- Names of Interviewers- titles, where they fit into corporate structure
- Company and Job Information
- Type of Attire/Presentation expected- always dress to the environment you will be interviewing for, never more or less. You can ask your recruiter what will be appropriate attire for each company you are meeting.
- Fresh copy of Resume
- Positive Attitude– a firm, solid handshake, warm smile, “pleasure to meet you”
- Eye Contact– make reasonable amount of eye contact, this is not a “staring contest”. Give enough eye contact though to show your interest in the conversation~
** We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to “mirror” the person who is interviewing you — e.g., if they are very rushed and quick speaking, you should keep your answers clear and crisp. If they are more “chatty” – then it’s’ fine to be more relaxed in your reply, HOWEVER, always addressing the question and being clear. In general, people like people who are “like” them. That’s why it’s important to pick up on an interviewer’s style and presence.
- if can some often be very helpful to make sure that you are addressing their question and providing enough information – so we suggest that you ask something like, “would you like additional information or this is fine?” The key is make sure you are clear and providing all the information that they seek.
- When asked about your role, responsibilities, contribution etc… please do not mostly refer to what your department does – e.g., try to focus on what YOU do, what you have contributed. Too often people make the mistake of saying “WE are responsible for business requirements and WE work with the development team” – ultimately the client might think that you don’t handle tasks on your own and pass off a lot of responsibilities to others. You should not sound “arrogant” by saying “I” but just naturally express what you personally do and contribute.
GOOD QUESTIONS TO ASK TO INTERVIEWER:
It’s not just your skill set that wins jobs… It’s how you separate yourself from the rest of the people interviewing (who could have similar or even better skills). Asking good questions demonstrates your intelligence, interpersonal skills, and values.
Some examples are:
“How can I best help you?” This shows you are there to be a contributor. Always give off the attitude that “it’s not what the company can do for you, but what you can do for the company.” A positive attitude will always be rewarded!
“What are the greatest challenges that you are facing, and that I could help you with?” Unless the position has been explained in complete detail, this is an excellent question. It shows that the firm’s success is of value to you, and not just your personal success.
When talking about your responsibilities and projects – please give a good overview…stop yourself from going on too long… and then ask “are my skills or environment similar to your needs or environment?” – in other words … you want to be sure that you are matching your skills to their needs. If the Manager says that the environments are different, then direct more questions to find out what their needs are and express back examples that you have done that are similar. Overall, any Manager will want to hear that you have skills and experiences that relate to what they are doing and what their environment needs! Good to make sure that you are on the “same page” or close enough.
“What are the short term and long term goals or objectives you are looking to reach?”
This shows that you are interested in career and the long term, not just a job
“What characteristics of the company do you think make it UNIQUE in the marketplace?”
This shows how others in the firm evaluate the environment. It shows that you are trying to best understand the company and how it fits in the marketplace vs. the competition.
“What are the characteristics of successful employees in this organization?”
Exemplifies to the employer that you want to do a good job and want to learn what best works in their environment.
“I’d love to hear YOUR experiences being at this organization- what do YOU enjoy about working here?” it goes the employer a chance to talk more personally and bring it to a different level. This can truly separate you from others that never make a personal connection with the Manager!!
AT THE END OF THE INTERVIEW – IF YOU WANT TO MAKE AN IMPACT…
The following suggestion might be a bit assertive, however, it has won people jobs in the past. If you are truly interested in an opportunity, LET THEM KNOW YOU ARE INTERESTED. Since there are so many people applying for the same job, it’s critical to separate yourself from everyone else! To do this, we suggest that you say something like “ I am very excited by this opportunity and hope you feel I am appropriate for the position”
- to determine if there are any “Negatives” about your background that the manager might be thinking, you can ask “ Are there any issues, concerns or questions you have about my background – I’d like to address any questions for you ” — Remember, many managers may just say “thank you for coming in” and they won’t tell you what the concerns are… perhaps there was simply a misunderstanding when you were explaining your interests and background… this is your chance to let them know that you are very excited by the opportunity and would like to address any of their concerns directly (especially before the next candidate shows up and you might have been eliminated in the process). It’s not an easy question to ask, be prepared to respond to a concern or negative without being “defensive” – it could make up for a misunderstanding or eliminate a concern.
WHEN YOU CAN’T ANSWER- WHAT DO YOU DO?:
During the interview, if you don’t know something (e.g., a technical question), its best not to say Yes or No to the answer. Instead show them that you are intelligent and try to think through the answer. You can say, “Let me see if I can work it through… I believe it’s similar to what I’ve done”. Ask them more questions to try to figure out what they are asking. It shows you’re a thinker, not someone quick to give up and say I don’t know.
If you get very nervous and feel like you’re not coming across well — it’s helpful to say “please forgive me, I’m just very excited to be here” — it’s better to say you’re excited, rather than nervous. This will give you a few more seconds to think about your answer.
Please also consider that how you LISTEN is as vital as the answers you give. Doing everything in the last section of this document correctly will be negated if you are not a good listener. Listening properly also gives the interviewer insight into your interpersonal skills. To be a good listener you must let them finish their sentences and thoughts completely. You may be excited to jump in and add to what they are saying, but instead of showing your intelligence, it actually makes people uncomfortable when they don’t get a chance to finish. It’s best to LISTEN and NOD your head APPROVINGLY. When they finish their sentence, it’s best to reply with a smile and if appropriate, ask another question or add some of your thoughts. The main point is to be a good listener in addition to asking good questions. Good conversation is a give and take.
OK, you made it through the interview… But you are not done yet. There is some follow-up etiquette that is good to get in the habit of doing. Go the extra inch and you will stand out miles ahead of the competition as a personable and professional candidate that people want on their team.
- Always get a business card from the person(s) you are meeting. You should send a thank you note, which is dropped in the mail the day of the interview. If getting a card mailed is hard, an email will work just as well. (But ALWAYS spell check your message, and correct any grammar before hitting the send button!).
- Ask politely, not anxiously, what the next steps in the process might be. Don’t be afraid to let them know that you like what you have seen so far, and want to continue the process. You can say- 1 have a sincere intent in moving forward.”
- Always contact your recruiter as soon as possible after an interview. The sooner you give your feedback the sooner the recruiter can move the process forward.