I Pre-Interview: At Home Preparation
1. RESEARCH THE COMPANY
Find out as much as you can about the company through the Internet, annual reports, and newspapers. This effort will become evident in the interview and immediately will brand you as pro-active, hardworking and astute.
2. DRESS FOR SUCCESS
Wear a conservative suit, minimal makeup, jewelry..
II The Interview
Know yourself-your strengths, weaknesses and accomplishments. An interview is not the time to “wing it”.
Prepare as much as you would for a presentation to the Board of Directors of your company. An interview is equally as critical.
1. BE 10 MINUTES EARLY
Punctuality is a subtle clue to attitude and behavior styles. Tardiness, no matter what the excuse, is a major mistake. Plan your route in advance and leave extra time to allow for heavy traffic or public transportation delays. You must have your recruiter call the client if you are running late!
2. BE NEAT AND THOROUGH
If you are asked to fill out an application, fill it out neatly and as completely as possible. The application is the client’s first example of your work.
3. BE FRIENDLY AND OUTGOING
Smile and say “hi” to everyone. A positive reaction from the support staff is an important factor in the evaluation. This also helps calm interview nerves.
4. BE ENTHUSIASTIC
First impressions, positive or negative, dramatically affect the ultimate evaluation. You can make or break an interview in the first five minutes. Be sure NOT TO COMPLAIN about anything to anyone you meet – this includes the receptionist!
5. BE INVOLVED
The most effective interviews are those when an active two way conversation prevails. Not the typical question and answer type. Begin early in the interview to interject your own inquisitive and probing insight. If you wish to take notes, on details of the position or company be sure to ask permission from the interviewer first.
5. ESTABLISH YOUR WORTH
Be able to discuss specific accomplishments that demonstrate a pro-active attitude. For example, have you installed systems? …did something not required to do? …saved money? …trained someone on your own.
6. KNOW 3 KEY STRENGTHS ABOUT YOURSELF
Be prepared to discuss for 1-2 minutes each, in detail, with examples, your two or three main attributes. These should be the ultimate reason you should get the job over someone else.
7. PROVIDE EXAMPLE/DETAILS WITH YOUR STRENGTHS
Support statements about yourself with specific examples. These “sinkers” provide legitimacy to your claims. Without them, the interviewer never accepts them as valid.
8. BE PREPARED FOR KEY QUESTIONS
Practice your responses to all the typical questions, e.g., “Tell me about yourself” … “Why are you looking?” … (See our list of 20 questions.) How well you speak will have a bigger impact than what you say.
9. DON’T GIVE YES AND NO’S
Be detailed in your answers, and discuss your thoughts and ideas.
10. REMAIN ATTENTIVE
Stay alert during the interview. Maintain good eye contact. Sit forward in your chair. Be animated. Show a high interest level. Stay enthusiastic about the opportunity. These actions can maintain or generate momentum during the interview.
11. BE SELF-CONFIDENT
High self-esteem and self-confidence are hallmarks of the successful individual. Be able to demonstrate how you have overcome obstacles with confidence. There is nothing wrong with feeling good about yourself.
12. DON’T GET COCKY
Arrogance and an overbearing attitude can offset the finest abilities. This is a key reason many people don’t get offers.
13. ASK PROBING OPEN ENDED QUESTIONS
A few strategic questions can clearly demonstrate your intelligence, analytical skills and assertiveness. Have these prepared from your research. Avoid superficial questions.
14. BE POSITIVE ABOUT EMPLOYERS
Do not “bad-mouth” previous positions, companies, or employers. No matter how well founded, this implies a negative attitude, one typical of those who don’t take personal responsibility for their actions.
III Closing the Interview
1. DON’T TALK SALARY
If you are asked about salary, simply say, “I am open”, or “The opportunity is more important to me”. You can say, the recruiter informed me of the salary range and they are handling negotiations for me. If you are pushed for an amount, provide a range generally 5-15% above your last/current salary stating that you are confident the company would make a competitive offer.
2. STATE YOUR INTEREST
At least by the conclusion of the interview, state that you are definitely interested in the position, and would like to know when the next step will take place. It’s best to show this interest throughout the session. Don’t overdo it though.
3. HAVE AN OBJECTIVE AND CLOSE UPON IT
Establish an objective before the interview, like a second interview or an offer. Ask for it if you have not achieved it. “…so you think my skills fit your needs?” gets to the point and, at worst, reveals other objections to overcome.
4. WRITE “THANK YOU” NOTES
Certainly thank each of the interviewers, but also ask for a business card as to appropriately address a thank you note. This is a “class” action. It demonstrates that you are professional, sensitive and can convey sincere interest. It is an excellent touch. Send to key decision makers. Unless you are informed that a decision will be made in less than 3 days a hand written note is preferred to an e-mail.
IV Interview Debrief
DETERMINE A TIME WITH YOUR PLACEMENT MANAGER TO DISCUSS THE INTERVIEW
In order to represent your interests in negotiating with our clients our placement team will have very specific questions to review with you after the interview. Be prepared to speak on the details of your experience, your opinion of the opportunity and salary goals.
Discuss with your recruiter the duties and requirements of the position. Discuss with your recruiter on what to expect on this interview. Personality of interviewer, possibility of testing, etc.
Your recruiter will give you information about the company prior to interview, but it is advisable to learn as much as you can on your own.
Know where you’re going! If you have any doubts, call the company and ask for directions. If necessary, drive the route the day or evening before the interview. Expect traffic delays so give yourself plenty of time. Being late for an interview is a deal breaker the majority of the time.
Plan to arrive on site 10 to 15 minutes prior to the interview. This shows the appropriate enthusiasm and preparedness. Arrive any later might indicate time management problems. Arrive any sooner might indicate latent anal-retentive qualities.
Be prepared! Before entering, take a deep breath. Relax. It’s Showtime! Put a smile on your face and walk in with confidence. Introduce yourself to whomever greets you and inform the person the reason for you being there.
Make eye contact and always have a firm handshake.
Take a seat. Relax, but sit up straight. Don’t fidget. Act like you belong there.
First interviews are a “get to know” interview. Unless the client asks you directly, never bring up salary and benefits on the first interview.
On the first interview you must convince the client that you can provide value to the company and you must show enthusiasm for the job. If asked about compensation never use what we call a “hard” number. Simply state what you are making currently or in your last position, re-express your interest in the job, and simply state that you would seriously consider their best offer.
Listen to your recruiter. Your recruiter works with these clients every day and will inform you of a realistic range to expect from the company and for your current experience level. We won’t send you out for an interview where the compensation package doesn’t fit the range you are currently receiving. Asking for more compensation than your experience or the position warrants will swiftly eliminate you from consideration.
If you are currently unemployed, don’t expect an offer equivalent to what you were making. Sorry, but these are the facts of life.
Know your resume. Keep a copy in front of you to confirm dates, duties, etc.
Be prepared to answer questions concerning accomplishments. Companies hire people for one of two reasons: to make money for the company or to save money for the company. Translate your accomplishments into these terms and you present value to the company.
Relax. Sit straight up. Make eye contact. Smile. Be attentive and listen.
Speak positively of your previous work experience.
Make your answers thorough, but be concise. Don’t ramble.
Be prepared to ask questions: duties and responsibilities, to whom you would report, training. Also, ask the interviewer about his or her background and what he or she likes about the company. Remember, though, unless it’s brought up by the employer, don’t ask about salary or benefits on the first interview.
Express your interest in working for the company and after the interview ask what the next step is in the process and move to set a date for the next step. If it is a second or third interview and you still like what you hear, ask when you can start! 80% of all placements are based on chemistry.
Always remember to thank your interviewer for his or her time and get that business card!
Questions Often Asked by the Interviewer
Why have you left or why are you leaving your current company?
What were your duties and responsibilities?
Accomplishments and strengths?
Areas needing improvement?
What value can you provide to the company?
Long and short term goals?
Be prepared for a role play situation that tests your ability to handle a difficult situation: irate customer, difficult employee, conflict with a co-worker, time management, etc.
Everyone likes the feeling of being wanted. Show enthusiasm! Don’t appear to be what we in the business call a “shopper” or a “tire kicker”. The “What can you do for me?” approach to interviewing, even in this full-employment economy, gets you a quick exit to the front door. (Sometimes the back door, if you’re particularly offensive).
Always remember to thank the interviewer for his or her time and remember to get his or her card.
After an interview you want to do two things:
Immediately (within 30 minutes, if possible) call your recruiter and debrief him or her on the interview. If you have any questions or concerns that didn’t get answered during the interview express these to your recruiter and he or she will get them answered. We must have this feedback before we contact the client. We know that you will do such a good job on the interview that the client will want information ASAP on your interest level, your concerns, the possibility of hiring you.
When you get home later that day write a note of thanks to the interviewer and send it off. Remember to ask for that business card!
1. TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF
Just talk for 2 minutes. Be logical. Ask for clarification, e.g. college or first position. Looking for communication skills, linear thinking, also try to score a point or two (describe a major personal attribute).
2. WHY ARE YOU LEAVING YOUR CURRENT POSITION?
This is a very critical question. Don’t “bad mouth” previous employers. Don’t sound “too opportunistic”… “I wasn’t planning or looking to leave. United Future recruited me.
3. WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR MOST SIGNIFICANT ACCOMPLISHMENT?
This can get you the job. Prepare extensively. Score points. Tell a 2 minute story, with details and discuss personal involvement. Make the accomplishment worth achieving. Discuss hard work, long hours, pressure, and important company issues at stake.
4. WHY DO YOU BELIEVE YOU ARE QUALIFIED FOR THIS POSITION?
Pick two or three main factors about the job, and how it is most relevant to you. Select a technical skill, or a specific management skill (organizing, staffing, or planning) and a personal success story about a previous accomplishment.
5. HAVE YOU EVER ACCOMPLISHED SOMETHING YOU DIDN’T THINK YOU COULD?
The interviewer is trying to determine your goal orientation, work ethic, personal commitment, and integrity. Provide a good example where you overcame numerous difficulties to succeed. Prove you’re not a quitter and “that you’ll get going when the going gets tough.”
6. WHAT DO YOU LIKE/DISLIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR CURRENT POSITION?
The interviewer is trying to determine compatibility with their current opening. If you have an interest in the position, be careful. Stating you dislike overtime or getting into the details, or that you dislike “management” can cost you the position. There is nothing wrong with this as long as you know what you’re getting into. Choose your dislikes carefully, and then focus on the likes.
7. HOW DO YOU HANDLE PRESSURE? DO YOU LIKE OR DISLIKE THESE SITUATIONS?
High achievers tend to perform well in high-pressure situations. Conversely, the question could also imply that the position is pressure packed and out of control. There is nothing wrong with this as long as you know what you’re getting into. If you do perform well under stress, provide a good example with details, giving an overview of the stress situation. Let the interviewer “feel” the stress by your description of it.
8. WHAT ARE YOUR CAREER GOALS? WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF FIVE YEARS FROM NOW? TEN YEARS?
“I see myself with the same company in five years. I hope to have received more responsibilities and will have become more of an asset to the company.”
9. WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR MOST SIGNIFICANT
Be prepared. Know your 4 or 5 key strengths. Be able to discuss each with specific examples. Select those attributes that are most compatible with the job opening. Most people say “management” or “good interpersonal skills” when answering this question. Don’t do the same unless you can describe the specific characteristics of management (planning, organizing, results, staffing, etc.) or how your relationship skills have proven critical to your success.
10. WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR MOST SIGNIFICANT WEAKNESS?
Don’t reveal deep character flaws. Rather discuss tolerable faults that you are working towards improving. Show by specific example how this has changed over time. Better still, show how a weakness can be turned into a strength. For example, how a concentration on the details results in higher quality work even though it requires much overtime, or how being aggressive makes you want to do too much.
11. THE SIGN OF A GOOD EMPLOYEE IS THE ABILITY TO TAKE THE INITIATIVE. CAN YOU DESCRIBE SITUATIONS LIKE THIS ABOUT YOURSELF?
A proactive, results-oriented person doesn’t have to be told what to do. This is a major success attribute. To convince the interviewer you possess this trait you must give a series of short examples describing your self-motivation. Try to discuss at least one example in depth. The extra effort, strong work ethic and creative side of you must be demonstrated.
12. WHAT’S THE WORST OR MOST EMBARRASSING ASPECT OF YOUR BUSINESS CAREER? HOW WOULD YOU HAVE DONE THINGS DIFFERENTLY NOW WITH 20/20 HINDSIGHT?
This is a general question to learn how introspective you are. It is also to see if you can learn from your mistakes: if you can, it indicates an open, more flexible personality. Don’t be afraid to talk about your failures, particularly if you’ve learned from them. This is a critical aspect of high potential individuals.
13. HAVE YOU GROWN OR CHANGED OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS?
This requires thought. Maturation, increased technical skills, or increased self-confidence are important aspects of human development. To discuss this effectively is indicative of a well-balanced, intelligent individual. Overcoming personal obstacles or recognizing manageable weakness can brand you as an approachable and desirable employee.
14. DEADLINES, FRUSTRATIONS, DIFFICULT PEOPLE, AND SILLY RULES CAN MAKE A JOB DIFFICULT. HOW DO YOU HANDLE THESE TYPES OF SITUATIONS?
Most companies, unfortunately, face these types of problems daily. If you can’t deal with petty frustrations, you’ll be seen as a problem. You certainly can state your displeasure at the petty side of these issues, but giving examples of how you overcame them is more important. Diplomacy, perseverance, and common sense can often prevail even in difficult circumstances. This is part of corporate America, and you must be able to deal with it on a regular basis.
15. ONE OF OUR BIGGEST PROBLEMS IS________________________.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THIS? HOW WOULD YOU DEAL WITH IT?
Think on your feet. Ask questions to get details. Break it into sub-parts. Most likely you have some experience with the sub-sections. Answer these, and summarize the total. State how you would go about solving the problem, if you can’t answer directly. Be specific. Show your organizational and analytical skills.
16. HOW DO YOU COMPARE YOUR TECHNICAL SKILLS TO YOUR
Many people tend to minimize their technical skills, either because they don’t have any or they don’t like getting into the detail. Most successful managers possess good technical skills and get into enough detail to make sure they understand the information being presented by their group. Try for good balance here if you want to be seriously considered for the position.
17. HOW HAS YOUR TECHNICAL ABILITY BEEN IMPORTANT IN
Clearly the interviewer believes he needs a strong level of technical competence. Most strong managers have good technical backgrounds, even if they have gotten away from the detail. Describe specific examples of your technical ability, but don’t be afraid to say you are not current. Also, give examples of how you resolved a technical issue by “accelerated research”.
18. HOW WOULD YOU HANDLE A SITUATION WITH TIGHT DEADLINES, LOW EMPLOYEE MORALE, AND INADEQUATE RESOURCES?
If you pull this off effectively, it indicates you have strong management skills. Need to be creative. An example would be great. Relate your toughest management task, even if it doesn’t have all the time criteria. Most situations don’t. Organizational skills, interpersonal skills, and hanging pressure are key elements of effective management. Good managers should be able to address each issue, even if they were not concurrent. Skillfully handling the question indicates your skills, too.
19. WHY SHOULD WE HIRE YOU FOR THIS POSITION? WHAT KIND
OF CONTRIBUTION WOULD YOU MAKE?
Good chance to summarize. By now you know the key problems. Re-state and show how you would address them. Relate to specific attributes and specific accomplishments. Qualify responses with the need to gather information. Don’t be cocky. Demonstrate a thoughtful, organized, strong effort kind of attitude.
20. WHY DO YOU WANT TO WORK HERE?
Avoid the obvious, e.g. good location. Compliment the interviewer on the company. “I’m familiar with your company’s excellent reputation and would like to be a part of your organization”.
1. Strong reputation of company
2. Leader in it’s industry
3. Appears to promote from within.
For men: Crisp, starched, long-sleeve shirt with tie. (Power tie, solid color, preferably in a red tone.) For Assistant Management unit positions a jacket is optional. If a jacket is worn, wear a dark jacket. Dark pressed dress slacks. Again, for a unit position below GM, starched Dockers are appropriate. Dress shoe, preferably black; dark socks.
For women: Skirt or Dress Slacks; wrinkle-free blouse and jacket; dark colors preferably; professional dress pumps. Make-up should be moderately applied, especially eye make-up (No blues, purples, or high fashion colors.) Long hair should be put up or at least pulled back.
Some of our companies will prefer a more casual look more in line with their corporate culture. Unless otherwise instructed by your recruiter, follow the above advice.
Have a typed copy of your references. Minimum of 3. These must be professional references. Not your Aunt Sally who has always thought you have the most adorable dimples!
Provide names, position, company and phone number of each reference.
The less work you make your interviewer do in squeezing this information out of you as you nervously fumble through scraps of paper, matchbook covers, cocktail napkins, etc., just might have a bearing on your candidacy.
Don’t forget to inform your references that you are using their names as references and prepare them for phone calls verifying employment.
Always bring at least 2 copies of your resume. Often the employer is working from a faxed copy or has misplaced it or in some cases hasn’t received one.
Offer a clean copy to your interviewer. Keep the other copy in front of you to assist you in remembering dates and details as the employer goes through your resume.
You are going to do such a good job on this interview that the interviewer may want you to meet and interview with the next level of interviewer that day. So be prepared!
1. Have a current resume nearby so you can verify employment dates, education, etc.
2. Have a pen and paper ready to take notes.
3. Have a list of general questions that you may want to ask the interviewer; questions such as the quality of the school system, if you have children, shopping, employment opportunities for the spouse, if applicable, etc.
4. Have a glass of water available in the event your throat gets dry.
5. Do not chew gum or eat anything while you are talking on the phone.
6. Speak clearly and directly into the mouthpiece of the phone.
7. Know as much about the company as possible. Find out as much as possible about their products, their customers, their operations as possible. Find out about the location and surrounding area. Much of this information can be gathered from the Internet. Know the size of the company, where it is headquartered, sister companies, reputation, image, management style, etc.. Project an informed interest.
Ask the interviewer what were some of the things that enticed him to join the company and what are some of the things that he likes about the company now.
8. Never, ever, under any circumstances, complain about your current or previous employers. Not the company. Not the management. Not your supervisors. There is no way you can turn a complaint into a positive. Always stress that you are looking for a growth opportunity. After all, isn’t this what you want.
9. Be prepared to answer general questions such as the following:
“Tell me about yourself”
Keep your answer to one or two minutes. Don’t Ramble. Use your resume summary as a base to start.
“What do you know about our company?”
You’ve done your homework. Be factual, concise. Talk for a minute or two. Don’t ramble.
“Why do you want to work for us?”
Don’t talk about what you want; first, talk about their needs: You would like to utilize your skills, experience and background to help them meet their goals while affording you the opportunity for growth and challenge.
“What would you do for us?” What can you do for us that someone else can’t?”
Relate past experiences that show you’ve had success in solving previous employer problems that may be similar to those of the prospective employer.
“What do you like best about your job? What do you like least?”
List three or more things you like and only one minor thing you dislike.
“Why should we hire you?”
Because of your knowledge, experience, abilities and skills.
” What do you look for in a job?”
An opportunity to use your skills, to perform, to contribute, to be recognized An opportunity to work for a growing company.
” What is your present job title, your responsibilities and your accomplishments?”
Give your official title, your three major responsibilities and three of your major accomplishments.
“How long would it take you to make a meaningful contribution to our firm?”
I would expect to start contributing immediately. I would need to assess your current situation and make recommendations for improvements and implement as soon as approval is granted.
“How long would you stay with us?”
As long as we both feel I’m meeting or exceeding expectations.
“What is your management style?”
(If you’ve never thought about this, it’s high time you did.) “Open-door management is best…and you get the job done on time and within budget or inform your management as soon as you are aware of changes from plan.
“Are you a good manager?” Give an example/ Why do you feel you have top managerial potential?”
Keep you answer achievement- and task-oriented; emphasize management skills…planning, organizing, interpersonal, etc.
“What do you look for when you hire people?”
Skills, initiative, adaptability, a track record of success.
“Did you ever fire anyone? If so, what were the reasons and how did you handle it?”
Give a brief example of a time when you faced this, and stress that it worked out well.
“What do you see as the most difficult task in being a manager?”
Getting things planned and done on time within budget.
“What do your subordinates think of you?”
Be honest and positive…they can check your responses easily.
“What is your biggest weakness as a manager?”
Be honest and end on a positive note, e.g. ” I don’t enjoy reprimanding people, so I try to begin with something positive first.”
“Why are you leaving your present job?”
Refine your answer based on your comfort level and honesty. Give a “group” answer if possible, e.g. Our department was consolidated or eliminated. Or, I wasn’t looking but the recruiter called me and I felt this was an opportunity I couldn’t afford to pass.
“How do you feel about leaving all of your benefits?”
Concerned but not panicked.
“Describe what you feel to be an ideal working environment.”
One in which people are treated as fairly as possible.
“How would you evaluate your present firm?”
It’s an excellent company that afforded me many fine experiences. (Remember….Do not criticize your present firm…no matter what)
“Why haven’t you found a new position before now?”
Finding a job is easy; finding the right job is more difficult. Stress that you are being selective , and are looking for the right “fit”. That you expect to be with your next employer a very long time.
“What do you think of your present boss?”
Be as positive as you can…even if you don’t really believe it. Again…Don’t criticize your present or past bosses. It only reflects negatively on you.
“If I spoke with your previous boss, what would he say are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?”
Emphasize your skills, and don’t be overly negative about your weaknesses. It is always safer to identify a lack of a skill as an area for improvement rather than a shortcoming.
“How much money are you looking for?”
Answer with a question, e.g., “What is the salary range for similar jobs in your company?” If the interviewer doesn’t answer, then give a range of what you understand you are worth in the marketplace. Stress that you want the best offer the company can make based on your experience, skills, background, education and accomplishments. If I’m in your salary range, I would prefer to postpone salary discussions until after a personal interview so you can better evaluate what I have to offer and I can evaluate the opportunities and challenges you have to offer.
“How would you describe your own personality?”
Balanced is a good word to use, but remember the type of company you are interviewing. Some companies may want someone who is aggressive and more outgoing. Some companies may want someone who is more reserved.
You may be asked to cite examples of problems you have encountered and solved in your specific job. Have a couple of examples ready.
If your job requires specific knowledge of equipment, systems, industry trends, etc., make sure you are up to date and ready to answer questions regarding these.
Be prepared…Ask your spouse or a good friend to help you practice, using the telephone, making sure your voice is clear and distinct, that you answer the questions without too many pauses, uhs and ahs.
One last thing…Remember your objective is to get a face-to-face, personal interview. Before you hang up, thank the interviewer for his time and interest and tell him/her that this is an opportunity that you want to pursue. Ask them what is the next step and when would it be possible for you to visit them for a personal interview. Have a couple of dates in mind that will fit your schedule.
Good Luck on your telephone interview. And call our office immediately (800-555-7762) to discuss the interview and to prepare for the next step.
1. What are the most critical aspects of this position?
2. What are the most important objectives for the person filling this position?
3. What characteristics-personal and technical-must an individual possess to be successful in this position?
4. To whom would I report?
5. How many people will I be working for? (or have working for me?)
6. What would an average day be like?
7. What is expected of me in this position?
8. Based on my background, how well do I fit in?
9. Why is the position available?
10. What criteria is used to judge successful performance in this position?
11. What is the company culture? The personality of the department?
12. How would you describe your personal management style? Tell me about your career path? How long have you been in this role?
13. May I have a brochure and your business card?
14. Based on my background how well do I fit in?
15. What is the next step in the interview process? Is there a time-frame for the final decision?