In addition to the information below, you may want to read through“FAQ” to help you prepare for an interview.
How to stay on the right path in an interview!
1) Stop using generalities, like “I’m a problem-solver” and “I’m a real team player.” Generalities about strengths are ignored, forgotten, or not heard. When interviewers evaluate a candidate they recall the examples and stories the candidate used to prove a point. From these examples they conclude to what degree the candidate possesses the strength or attribute.
2) Never say “I don’t have any weaknesses.” Everybody has weaknesses. The point of the question isn’t even about weakness, it’s an attempt to determine your character, honesty, and self-awareness. On the surface, saying you don’t have any weaknesses implies you’ve stopped growing, can’t learn anything new and can’t be coached. Openly stating a weakness, and describing how you’ve learned from it, indicates a willingness to get better.
3) Don’t give answers that are too short or too long. In an interview, you’re judged not just on the content of your answers, but also the quality of how they’re presented. If your answers are too short you’re assumed to lack ability or insight, or interest. Worse, you force the interviewer to work too hard. Interviewees who talk too much lack effective communication skills.
4) Don’t imply “what’s in it for me” questions. At the beginning of the interview, assume you’re the seller. Asking self-serving questions like “what does the job pay?” or questions about benefits and related superficialities, are an instant red flag. It’s certainly okay to ask about these once things progress and you’re a serious candidate for the job.
5) Don’t look at your resume. During the interview you must not look at your resume. This is a sign you’re either nervous (which you probably will be), or you fabricated something. Interviewers expect you to know your work history completely, including companies, dates, job titles, roles, responsibilities and key accomplishments.
How to Gain an Interviewing Advantage
1) Be prepared. An interview is more important than any major presentation you’ll ever make. You need to be just as prepared. Part of this is reading about the company, the industry, the job description, and the LinkedIn profiles of the people you’ll be meeting. But this is just a start. Knowing yourself, your resume and work history inside-out, your strengths and weaknesses, and preparing to ask and answer questions is the hard part.
2) Ask insightful questions. Interviewers judge candidates on three big areas: the candidate’s first impression, the quality of the answers, and the quality of the questions. Great questions can often overcome weaknesses in the other areas. The best questions focus on the impact and challenges of the role, and the relationship of the job to the business.
3) Convert the interview into a past performance review. If the interviewer seems to be box-checking skills and experiences, ask about the major performance expectations for the job. Then give examples of your biggest accomplishments to validate you’ve done work that’s comparable to what needs to be done.
4) Prove strengths and neutralize weaknesses. Write down all of your strengths and weaknesses. For each strength come up with 1-2 actual accomplishments you can use as examples to prove the strength. To neutralize a weakness, describe how you converted it into a learning experience, or how you manage to deal with it. If there is something missing in your background or skill set that the job requires. Once you know this, you might be able to minimize the concern by describing some comparable accomplishment that was previously not considered.
5) Ask about next steps. At the end of the interview, find out the next steps.
For most hiring managers, the interviewer is more about box-checking and validating skills, combined with a big dose of gut feel and intuition. A savvy job-seeker can turn the odds in his or her favor by being prepared, recognizing that the interview isn’t a lecture or a series of 30-second responses, and asking insightful, business-oriented questions. Preventing what can go wrong, is a great way to ensure things go right.
In-person Interviewing Tips
- Create rapport. This means using eye contact, self assured and showing enthusiasm. The biggest criticism we hear from hiring managers is that applicants don’t show enough interest for the position. Asking questions about the company, department, people and the position is a great way to show interest and to work through any nervousness.
- Before each interview, research the company and gather as much information on the interviewer and what their role is. Listen to their questions and make your answers concise. Remember, you have to keep them interested.
- Dress professionally. First impressions do make a difference in the hiring process. In addition to being clean and neat, suitable attire is essential. For the most professional appearance, the best option for both men and women is always a suit. Men must wear a tie. Hair should be out of the face and conservatively styled, makeup light and professional, and no perfume or cologne.
- Do your market research. Review the company WEB SITE. Review the position specifics and job description. The more you know about the company and the position the better you can customize your answers and attributes. Use the verbiage they use while describing your experience.
- Bring three copies of your résumé to the interview. Fill out applications completely, do not write see resume.
- Never be late!! Arrive ten minutes before your scheduled interview time. This will make a good impression and give you a few minutes to collect your thoughts. Try to relax.
- Be certain to get the name (and proper pronunciation) of the person you will be meeting with, when possible. Greet the interviewer with a firm HANDSHAKE, and direct EYE CONTACT.
- Preparation is key to a successful interview. Tailor your responses to questions by speaking in terms of the specific position. Emphasize how your qualities will benefit the company.
- Listen to the questions and give examples to back up your answers. Be specific and try not to ramble. If you feel you have answered the question – stop, smile at the interviewer and await the next question.
- Be positive, enthusiastic, and energetic about the new opportunity. Be prepared for the following questions: Every question should be answered with the position you are interviewing for in mind.
- Tell me about yourself. Keep your answer brief while focusing on your background – only mention answers relevant to the position for which you are interviewing.
- Let the interviewer know that you are extremely interested in the position for which you are interviewing. Thank the interviewer for their time and express your interest in the position. Be sure to send a Thank You letter to each interviewer immediately following your interview! Ask for a business card to check the spelling of your interviewer(s) name(s) and title(s).
Phone Interviewing Tips
- Tell us about yourself – What they’re really asking: What makes you special? Why should we hire you?Tips: Prepare several selling points about yourself. Give a quick “elevator speech” that overviews your experience and achievements.
- What are your greatest strengths? – What they’re really asking: How do you perceive your talents and abilities as a professional? Will you be an asset to our organization?Tips: Sell yourself. If you don’t promote your strengths, nobody else will. Prepare six or seven responses. Be “confidently humble.”
- What are your greatest weaknesses? – What they’re really asking: How honest are you being about yourself with us? How realistic are you?Tips: Present your weakness as a positive. Don’t talk too long or emphasize your downfalls. Such as, reiterating your expertise in equity, but you do not feel 100% proficient in REIT’s or derivatives. This way it points out a weakness, but will not harm you in the position.
- Why are you interested in working here? – What they’re really asking: How dedicated are you? Do you have a passion for this type of work?Tips: Keep your answer simple and to the point. Stay away from such responses as, “Many of my friends have worked here.” This response isn’t very impressive.
- Why should we hire you? – What they’re really asking: Can you convince us you’re “the one?” Can you sell your “product?”Tips: Make a powerful statement about the value you’ll bring to their organization. Talk about yourself, but be wary of sounding arrogant.
- Where do you see yourself five years from now? – What they’re really asking: Will you only be here for a year before moving on, or are you committed to staying here for awhile? Are you a stable person? Can you set goals for yourself?Tips: Be aware that they might not want to hire someone who will only be around for a year or two. Feel free to say that you have one goal at the moment: to be the very best employee for that particular job.
- What are some of your hobbies? – What they’re really asking: How well-rounded are you? What do you do outside of work that might transfer positively into the workplace?Tips: Emphasize any hobbies or activities that may relate to the job. Help the interviewer learn more about you and perceive you as a person, rather than a job candidate. Therefore, don’t just answer questions, respond to them.
- Would you be willing to pursue an extra license or degree? – What they’re really asking: How is your attitude? How flexible are you?Tips: Tell the interviewer how important professional growth is to you. Understand that the person who will impress the interviewer the most is the one willing to do the extra work.
- What were you hoping we’d ask today, but didn’t? – What they’re really asking: Is there anything special about yourself that you want us to know?Tips: Consider this a “show and tell” opportunity. Use materials from your background to convince them how valuable you’ll be to their organization
- Do you have any questions for us? – What they’re really asking: Are you prepared to ask questions? How interested are you in this position?Tips: List five or six questions on an index card. Ask at least one question, even if all of your prepared questions have been answered. Never say, “No, you’ve answered all of my questions.”
It’s important to sound natural and thoughtful when replying to such questions, saying, “Don’t let your responses sound ‘canned’ or rehearsed. It’s important to make the interviewer feel as though you’ve given serious thought to their question and are genuinely interested in the job.”