Interview Tips

Much has been written on the actual face to face interview and how to ask and answer questions effectively. The following will provide our top 10 tips on succeeding in the interview and our top questions that you should be prepared to answer plus the top 10 questions you need to ask when it is your turn.

Tips for Success

  1. Reconfirm with the company before the appointment.
  2. Dress the part. Err toward the formal, not the relaxed.
  3. Show up 10 minutes early.
  4. Do your homework on the company, visit their web site and be prepared to discuss something in your background that matches a specific need with the company.
  5. Discuss your strategy with your recruiter. Get their advice.
  6. Ask questions in the interview (see below) and ask for the job if you like what you hear.
  7. Be positive about your past employers and past situations.
  8. Before leaving the interview, establish a firm time frame with the company to move forward (i.e., what is the next step).
  9. Call your recruiter immediately following the meeting.
  10. Send a follow-up letter. For extra impact, FedEx the letter.

Questions You Need to Answer

The first group of questions you will probably face are the standards listed below. The right way to answer these questions is to direct them, whenever possible, to the needs of the company you want to work for.

For example: Get your career objectives and interests aligned with the requirements of the job and the culture of the company.

Obviously, you should try and put a positive spin on any potential negatives. For example: Describe your weaknesses in such a way that you highlight one of your strengths. Examples: you could have an inability to tolerate people who do half a job, or that you tend to work too many hours, or you push too hard to do a perfect job etc.

Don’t lie or make things up. You don’t want to get a job that isn’t right for you. In the long run you’ll be unhappy and right back looking again. Rather think through these questions for thoughtful, substantive answers that reflect the real you.

Questions to be Prepared to Answer

  1. Why are you looking OR leaving your current position?
  2. Why are you interested in this job?
  3. What are your career objectives?
  4. What do you do for hobbies?
  5. What is the last book you read? OR What do you like to read?
  6. Describe your personality?
  7. What are your strengths?
  8. What are your weaknesses?
  9. Who do you admire in business?
  10. Etc..etc…

Common sense will be sufficient to get you through these types of questions. The key is to have well- thought-out answers prepared and ready.

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The more complex and challenging interviews involve the “tell me about a time” questions. These questions are designed to elicit personal, life experiences that reflect your ability to accomplish various aspects of the job.

For Example:

If the company needs a person who can respond well to pressure, they might ask the following:
“Tell me about a time in business when you were faced with an enormous amount of pressure and how you responded."

OR

If the company needs someone who can get along with difficult people, they might ask: “Tell me about a time when you had to work with a very frustrating person and how you handled it?

And here’s the hard part. You can’t brush these questions off by saying. “I can’t remember anything specific right now." Part of the interview process is to allow you lots of time to think when you are having a hard time recalling. The interviewer will say something like: “Take your time, there is no hurry,” and then just sit there while you think and sweat and think and sweat.

This is not meant to make you uncomfortable but rather to allow all the necessary time to get answers. It is a proven and very effective way to interview, so do yourself a favor and prepare ahead of time.

Some “Tell Me About A Time” Questions

  1. when you felt under heavy pressure. How did you respond?
  2. when you had to make a quick decision that you are proud of.
  3. when you went above and beyond the call of duty.
  4. when teamwork was critical to success and what you did.
  5. when you developed a creative way to motivate someone.
  6. when you had to set important goals and how they were accomplished.
  7. when you found a job particularly uninteresting and how you dealt with it.
  8. when your boss undermined one of your decisions and how you responded.
  9. you had to fire (or reprimand) one of your subordinates.
  10. you planned your strategy, implemented and then lost.

You get the idea. These are tough, but fair and realistic questions to ask on an interview. Prepare yourself by thinking of a number of work situations where you had to exhibit certain qualities. Have real situations on hand and you will be ready to shine.

Questions to Ask the Company

This is your chance to ask the tough questions of the interviewer and the company. It’s a chance for you to look interested and informed about the industry and the specific job. Here are some ideas.

 

  1. How long (or why) is the position open?
  2. What do you see as the most important attributes for success in this job.
  3. What happens when this job is not done well.
    1. Someone in the company (probably the interviewer) feels pain when the job is not accomplished, and you need to zero in on your ability to keep that from happening.
  4. What are the biggest challenges facing the company (or this division) over the next few years?
  5. How has __(something in the news)___________affected your business?
  6. Where do you plan to be in 2-3 years?
  7. What is your perspective on your company versus the competition?
  8. Where is the current product line in its life cycle?
  9. Why is your #1 rep #1
  10. Describe yourself as a manager.