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The Interview

September 30, 2009

The Interview – Your objective: get an offer!

Find out the following when you set up the interview either with a Recruiter, HR or the Manager:

What should I wear?  Companies no longer require a suit for an interview, and some prefer that you don’t.  Find out.

What should I bring?  Hopefully you have been able to put together a portfolio or other summary that shows your work.  Perhaps even a list of projects completed with descriptions and links to websites if you are able to access and share.

Who will I meet?  Names, titles and roles if possible.

How long should I plan on being there?

Prepare for the interview

Appearance:  Dress appropriately (see above) and look well-groomed and professional.   Do not use this opportunity to show off your individuality or fashion sense (unless you are interviewing for a creative position).  If you smoke, do not do it before the interview and do not let your interview clothes around your “smoking” clothes.  Get your haircut, beard/goatee/mustache trimmed and have it neatly done.  For women, wear neutral/natural make-up.  Go very light on the cologne and perfume. 

Research the company, interviewers, general employees (LinkedIn is great for this and you might know someone there that can give you a great internal referral), recent press releases, etc.

Review the position and make note – on your resume – on the job description – of things that you have done that are similar and/or skills that match perfectly.  Make sure that you have the resume you sent them with you as well as the job description.

Prepare questions that show interest and help you evaluate the position.  Some good options:

          What do you see as my biggest challenges/tasks in the first 30, 60, 90 days?

          Tell me about your team and some of the projects you have done.

          What do you like most about working here?

Prepare for their questions.  You can’t anticipate everything, but prepare for the common ones:

          Prepare a two minute summary of your background/experience (pick the things that matter most for this position)

          Prepare an overview of projects you recently completed – type of project, team size, responsibilities, technologies used (prepare to answer why those were used) and the end results.

          Tell me about your biggest challenges and how you resolved them.  This is a great opportunity to show problem solving, flexibility, adaptability, ability to learn new things, be open-minded, etc.

          Tell me about any significant accomplishments.  This is your opportunity to shine – try to pick things that relate to this job/company.

          Why are you leaving your job?  This is not an opportunity to bash your current employer.  You can discuss what you are looking for in a new position.  Be prepared to answer this for your last three jobs if you have jumped around.

          What do you do on your own for growth/studying/continued development?

          What is the last book  you read?

          Where do you want to be in five years….be careful you don’t say you want his job.  Or maybe that is good…hopefully you will have read the situation well before then.

          Tell me about a difficult co-worker/customer/manager and how you deal with them.  Again, not an opportunity to bash or talk negatively.  You can talk about difficult people – every company has them – but remain positive about how you handled the situation.

During the interview

Be engaging with a great attitude.  Lean forward.  Make eye contact.  Smile.  Be enthusiastic – but not too much.  Remember your manners with everyone you meet. 

Ask the interview what they are looking for and why the position is open.  Most job descriptions are form ones or written by HR.  Hopefully the manager will tell you why he is hiring and what is most important.  If you interview with several people, ask them all the same question – you will hear different views about the position.  This will help you pick the experience that is most applicable and sell yourself.

Be succinct and to the point.  You can always end your answer with “Did I answer your question?”  or “Would you like to hear more?”

Feel free to ask questions if you don’t understand or need more clarification.  Most employers would rather have a thoughtful, correct answer than a quick, incomplete, incorrect one.  It shows that you give thought before you speak. 

DON’T be negative.  Don’t bash your previous employer.  Don’t ask about vacation and sick time.  Don’t ask about money – if they ask you, you can say that you are most interested in the position and would like to hear their best offer.  If they push, provide a range and make sure that the lowest number of that range is something you would accept.  Don’t ask about benefits. 

At the end of the interview – thank each person for their time, ask for feedback, do they need more information, next steps, etc.

After the interview

Send a thoughtful “thank you” even if you think you didn’t get the job or don’t want the job.  If you do want it, bring up 2-3 key points that were covered to show that you listened, are interested, are a good fit, etc.   Spell check!  Grammar check!  If you interviewed through a recruiter, ask them to forward it to the manager for you. 

If you are working with a recruiter, call and give them immediate feedback.  This triggers them to call the Manager to get feedback and next steps.  If HR set it up, call to let them know that you completed the interview and look forward to their feedback.  If the Manager called you directly, wait about 48 hours and follow up if you haven’t heard anything.  Be polite when asking for feedback and if the answer is no, see if you can find out why and let them know that it will help you in future interviews. 

Good luck!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 30, 2009 2:00 pm

    Just wanted to say HI. I found your blog a few days ago on Technorati and have been reading it over the past few days.

  2. September 30, 2009 2:01 pm

    I discovered your homepage by coincidence.
    Very interesting posts and well written.
    I will put your site on my blogroll.


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