Thursday, October 15, 2009

Interview Preparation Guide

Preparing for the Interview - Understand your background

Review your career history thoroughly. Review dates, positions, responsibilities, and accomplishments. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Be prepared to cite specific examples of accomplishments and how your experience can help the company reach some of their goals. Concentrate on your most recent positions but don't neglect the skills you developed early in your career.

How to Prepare

Consider each position and educational period of your life separately, as an individual “section.” Break each section into three preparation steps, as shown below. Writing out answers for each section will commit it to memory and help you easily recall this information during an interview. It will also allow you to review it later or before your next interview. Be sure that you can answer each of the following questions about each position or educational period.

1. Why you took a position

2. What did you do while in the position; what did you gain from it, how will that experience help you succeed in this position.

3. Why you left a position

Preparing for the Interview – Know the company

Gather information on the company before going into the interview. Learn about their history, current situation and their future goals and objectives. Your search consultant will have a great deal of this information, but you may also want to reference the library for website, periodicals, trade journals, articles, annual reports and D&B reports, etc.

Have a thorough understanding of the position, its responsibilities, expectations and goals. Prepare questions about the position to learn as much as you can and to effectively align your skills with the needs of the position.

Talk to your search consultant about any specific issues that may be addressed in the interview or if the client has any concerns about your background you may have to elaborate on.

Sample questions to ask about the company and position follow: (Choose those appropriate to your situation)

Questions About The Company

What are the primary goals and direction of the company?

Why did you join the organization?

How has your career progressed since you've been here?

What is your style and philosophy of management? Would you say it is the same for upper management?

What kind of individual are you looking for?

Can you tell me about the history of the company?

What do you think are the advantages of working here?

Questions About The Position

What are some of the immediate challenges I should expect in this position?

How will my progress be evaluated?

What are the three most important things you would need me to accomplish in the first six months on the job?

After I prove my capability and potential here, what are my opportunities?

What would a typical day involve? Typical week?

What kind of experience did the previous individual in this position have?

What happened to that person, were they promoted, transferred, fired, etc?

What have other candidates lacked that you have interviewed?

How many candidates have you interviewed?

When would you ideally like the person on board?

Based on my skills and experience, what might my biggest difficulty be?

Helpful Reminders

  • Arrive at your interview early so you have time to check your appearance and breath right before your interview (especially if it's after lunch).
  • Bring a portfolio and a nice pen (Cross, Mont Blanc, etc.) to take notes.
  • Bring extra copies of your resume.
  • Ask for their business card before you leave so you have the address to send a thank you letter.
  • Write out the questions you have for them so you are well prepared.
  • Listen carefully to the questions you are asked, make sure you answer precisely that question! Answer directly and concisely, don't be evasive. They'll let you know if they want additional information, so don't ramble.
  • Keep good eye contact and a relaxed posture throughout the interview, don't let your eyes roam and don't squirm in your seat.
  • If you bring along information to share during the interview, be careful to judge their interest level, some people don't like show and tell during interviews and will become bored quickly.
  • Remain poised and attentive during the entire interview, don't unconsciously play with anything. For example, pen, paper, card, coffee, etc.
  • Be sure to thank them before you leave and offer a firm handshake.

Closing the Interview

Successfully closing the interview is a major step in your ability to land the position. Many interviews end in an uneasy manner. Use the following three step approach. Your last impression could be the most important. REMEMBER: Companies want to hire people who want to work for them. Be enthusiastic.

1. Ask if they have any reservations about your ability to do the job.

Address any concerns openly and honestly and try to overcome any obstacles before you leave.

2. Summarize how your skills and experience will address the client's needs expressed during your interview.

Discuss how your experience and skills will help the company either solve their problems or achieve their goals

3. Express your interest sincerely and ask what the next step in the process will be.

Don't ask for the position prematurely. It is great to show enthusiasm, but wait for the appropriate time, most likely the second or third interview.

Counter Offers

Surveys still show that eight out of ten employees who accept counteroffers don't complete the following year with their employer, so why even consider one. Emotions run high when a resignation is received and promises tend to be made that are unrealistic. A natural fear of change could make you do something you would not ordinarily do. Never underestimate the value of your integrity in this situation.

Have you ever thought about the reasons why a company will extend a counter offer?

  • It is much cheaper to keep you than to lose you. There is always a downtime expense when someone leaves. It is costly to train a new hire.
  • Morale suffers. Your company runs the risk of others following your lead. Under staffed departments are not happy departments.
  • Counter offers protect management from looking bad. Everyone has an ego. Your manager is being evaluated by his/her ability to retain staff.

8 Reasons for Not Accepting a Counter Offer

1. The same circumstances that now cause you to consider a change will repeat themselves in the future.

2. Statistics show that if you accept a counter offer, the probability of voluntarily leaving in six months or being let go within one year is extremely high.

3. Why is it taking your resignation to receive the compensation or position that you seek?

4. The money for the counter offer, is it your next raise early?

5. Your company may immediately start looking for a new person at a cheaper price.

6. You have now made your employer aware that you are unhappy. From this day on your loyalty may always be in question.

7. When promotion time comes around, your employer may remember who was loyal, and who wasn’t.

8. When times get tough, your employer may begin the cutbacks with you.

Dress the part

You put a lot of work into making your resume look great. You were successful at landing an interview. Now is the time to shine!!

People generally feel more confident about themselves when they look good, so take some extra time to pick out what you'll wear for your interview to ensure you look your best.

Men and women: when choosing what to wear for a professional position you are safest with conservative dark suits and long sleeve shirts or blouses.

For men: ties should be conservative but "in style," dark socks, shined shoes and a well groomed appearance. Belt should match your shoes. Facial hair should be very well groomed. The clean-shaven look is usually the best bet.

For women: keep to an overall conservative look. For example, knee length skirts, moderate heels, minimal jewelry/makeup and simple hairstyles. As far as briefcases go: a briefcase before a purse - never both.

NOTE: Be sure all your clothing, shoes, hand bags, briefcases, etc., are in good condition.

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