By Matt Haver, CIR ACIR CDR, IT Division Manager / Lead IT Recruiter
So you have an interview. You know that you are smart, talented, and extremely qualified for the job. But you know what? You aren’t going to get it. “Why,” you ask?! Interviewing for a position is actually a different skill set than doing a job. I know a lot of good candidates that don’t interview well and a few bad candidates that unfortunately know how to interview very well. To overcome this hurdle you should prepare. Here is what I recommend to get ready for your upcoming interview:
BEFORE THE INTERVIEW PREPERATION:
- Review your resume. If it’s on there you should be able to speak to it; if not, take it off. You would be surprised how often this is an issue.
- Review the Job Description and brush up on any skills related to the requirements.
- Learn about the company, do some research on them, look at their website.
- Know the location and traffic flow for the time you are interviewing. Plan in an extra 20-30 minutes. Hopefully you will get to the location nice and early but don’t go in too early. It’s best to check in about 5 minutes early. Anything earlier than that is an inconvenience for the interviewer.
- Dress professionally. Overdress if you are not sure what to wear. I generally recommend wearing a suit. I have had good candidates eliminated for dressing too casual. There is a rare exception; some companies have a culture that is specifically casual. If that is the case, plan to dress slightly more formal than they do. For example if they wear cargo shorts, t-shirts, and flip flops, try wearing khakis, a short sleeve button down, and comfortable shoes. You get the idea.
- Prepare multiple copies of your resume to bring with you. Interviewers usually have a copy but if they don’t you better have a copy for them.
DURING THE INTERVIEW:
- Be friendly and accommodating even if you think the interview is going poorly or if you are no longer interested. Always interview like you want the job. You can always turn down an offer.
- Convey energy and enthusiasm throughout the interview, but equally, feel confident enough to pause while considering the most appropriate way to answer a question. This demonstrates confidence and carefulness and keeps you from saying something you will regret.
- Express yourself with a clear, calm, voice and use proper grammar.
- Talk positively about your past employers. Companies do not like candidates that bash their past employers. Eventually every job ends and they aren’t interested in someone that is going to talk bad about their company in the future.
- Don’t eat or chew gum during the interview. Seems obvious but you would be surprised.
- Pay careful attention to questions and reply with clear, concise answers. Try to avoid a simple “yes” or “no”.
- Always relate your responses to the job you are applying for.
- Try not to talk over or interrupt the interviewer.
- Be ready for tough questions (see QUESTIONS TO BE READY FOR below)
- Ask questions (See QUESTIONS YOU MIGHT WANT TO ASK below)
QUESTIONS TO BE READY FOR:
- What is your greatest Strength?
- What is your greatest Weakness? This is one of the toughest questions, and how you answer it can either help or hurt you. Do not use over-used and corny answers like, “I’m a perfectionist” or “I don’t have any weaknesses”, when asked about your weaknesses. Pick something you have/had challenges with and how you have overcome that.
- Describe your present/former job.
- Why did you leave a position or why are you looking to leave your current position?
- What are the best and worst aspects of your present or former job?
- What was your greatest accomplishment or most important contribution to your former employer?
- Be aware of any past mistakes which might come up and be ready to answer questions about them as positively as possible.
- What do you understand this job to be about?
- What qualities do you have that will make you successful in this role?
- Why do you want to join our company?
- What do you know about our company and its business?
- What motivates you?
- What type of environment do you enjoy working most?
- What are your plans for the future and where do you want to be in 5 years time? 10 years?
- How do rate your ability to work under pressure?
- How well do you work with others? Independently?
- What is the most important thing to you in a job: Salary? Growth potential? Co-workers? Job Duties?
- What are your salary expectations? Be realistic and honest. If you have been represented by a recruiter I would recommend telling them to refer to the recruiter or saying the same range you were presented in (unless the recruiter misrepresented you or something changed). Don’t turn the interview into a negotiation. Once you have an offer is when you want to negotiate.
- What do you like to do in your spare time? Does this seem irrelevant? Depending on the culture they may not think so.
QUESTIONS YOU MIGHT WANT TO ASK:
- Where does this position fit within the organization?
- What do I need to do to be successful in this role?
- How will my success be evaluated?
- What is my prospective supervisor’s style of management / how does the team interact?
- What is the “corporate culture” of the company?
- What are the challenges of this position?
- What is the growth potential of this position? This is tricky. It can be important to ask depending on what you are looking for but be careful. Hiring managers don’t want someone that is going to leave their position quickly.
AFTER THE INTERVIEW:
- Ask if they require any additional information.
- Thank the interviewer.
- Express enthusiasm and interest in the position. Ask what the next step will be and when you will hear back.
- Send a quick, concise, thank you email to the interviewer(s) or your recruiter (for them to forward on). Make sure this is well written with no mistakes. There is nothing like making a bad impression on your follow up thank you email.