Interviews come in various guises.
Despite the etiquette, formality, and inevitable fear factor,
job interviews can actually be enjoyable as well as extremely
informative. In an interview, where you and the prospective
employer begin a mutual relationship based on observation and
communication, you have just as much power as the
interviewer. So forget the high stakes and have fun.
The focus for both sides should be on the immediate benefits
you can add to and get from the company. Use examples;
emphasize thought processes rather than results; and turn
negatives into positives.
Research, research, research
Be ready to rattle off your achievements and how your current
projects fit in with the goals of the prospective employer.
Research industry trends and know where the company excels
and where it might need your talents. Use media, reference
books and sites, and your contacts in the industry.
Do enough research to speak authoritatively during the
interview. Look at the company's recent stock price if it is
publicly traded. Find out its values through the mission
statement and the recent comings and goings of its
executives. Keep current on relevant news and check for
late-breaking events that could affect the business.
Interviews come in various guises.
Screening interviews narrow the applicant pool. You
might be screened without knowing it, in person or
otherwise. Career fairs, for example, provide screening
opportunities. Job applicants might also be screened by
Electronic or phone interviews may be used when you
are relocating. Treat virtual interviews as if they were
face to face, even if you are in your pajamas. Keep any
materials you might need for the conversation at hand.
Sequential interviews, where you visit different
interviewers one after another within a company, are the
most common. Treat each interview as though it were the
Panel interviews, where you face a panel of
interviewers, or group interviews, where multiple
candidates are interviewed at once, are less common but
might also occur.
It's all in the package you present
Interviewers will probably ply you with questions about your
education, experience, skills, and long-term career goals as
they look for the following.
Confidence without arrogance. Show you work well
with others as equals while exhibiting the confidence and
assertiveness of a self-starter.
Reason. The prospective employer looks for how well
you process information.
Communication. The interviewer looks for social
savvy, small talk, and interpersonal ability with
Success. Show how you have used your skills by
providing measurable statistics and explain the thought
process behind your actions.
Organization. Show your level of organization by
your dress, manner, and coordination handling the papers
and equipment you bring to the interview.
Enthusiasm. Let how much you want the job shine
through and add a positive spin to negative situations.
Every question counts
Interviewers might pose behavioral questions to get an idea
of how you might act in the office. Certain banking, finance,
and consulting employers use case questions to test your
analytical skills. Hypothetical questions offer a picture of
how you might handle a situation you have yet to encounter.
You may face these types of questions if you are interviewing
for a job in a new industry or for one with more
Don't fall for tricks
In stress tests, the interviewer fires a barrage of questions
or problems at the candidate in stressful surroundings. These
cases are less about what you do or say than about how you
respond. Emphasize the process, not the result. If you feel a
question is extraordinarily strange, ask for elaboration.
Your turn to do the grilling
Respond to the interview questions with articulate, focused
answers but make sure to get some answers for yourself.
Ask about attitude and environment. If the
interviewer shows you around, pay attention to the work
environment. Listen to what employees say; notice how they
dress and the relative diversity or homogeneity of the
Ask about training. Training programs help
facilitate your transition into a new position. Look for
companies willing to enhance your skills and knowledge,
regardless of job level and tenure.
Ask about management. Ask about the relationships
workers have with senior management and whether one
department is held in higher regard than another. Find out
whether your department has an advocate before senior staff
or how strong an advocate you will be able to be.
Ask about time, travel, and relocation. Find out the
time commitment expected from you. Ask whether the company
expects you to travel or relocate and whether they will
Ask about promotions and reviews. A good rate of
promotion is 18 months to two years. Performance reviews,
which may include a raise, should take place once a year.
Ask about compensation. The interviewer is likely to
cover this topic eventually, but make sure all your
questions are answered. Does the company pay competitive
salaries in general? Does it offer cash bonuses, stock
options, paid holidays, and gifts like meals and tickets?
Ask about turnover. If employees are leaving in
droves, you know something is wrong. Workers may be
dissatisfied with their pay, management, or work culture;
or there may have been layoffs. Ask whether the company is
in talks on acquisitions or mergers. Find out about any
current litigation and its possible impact.
What happens next? The interviewer will contact you about the
job if the company is interested. Ask how long you can expect
to wait. Contact the interviewer in the interim if you have
questions or for additional materials or references. But the
decision will depend mostly on your interview. Do your best
to leave a great impression.
- Leslie Tebbe, Salary.com contributor