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CLIENT INTERVIEW TIPS:

1) Take a detour from the norm by holding the interview in a different place within your company or even off site. You can even conduct some of the interview while touring the offices or plant, which gives you a sense of how the candidate interacts in a more day to day setting.

2) A big desk between you and the interviewee can sometimes be a barrier to open communication. To promote a more natural ebb & flow of conversation, consider a more open seating arrangement which is more comfortable.

3) Asking ‘how-to’ questions can be a given in a technical interview, (How many years of C++ do you have?), but be sure to include questions which gauge the candidates ability to effectively interact with co-workers, subordinates, and superiors. For example, “Tell of a time when you had a disagreement with someone at work?” And follow up with, “How did you handle it?” or “What was the final outcome?” The candidates answers can reveal keys to conflict resolution skills and provide an insight into social skills

4) Be prepared and ‘set the stage’ for the interview. Have an agenda of who’s going to be involved and how long each stage of the interview should take. A small amount of planning on the front-end will make the process run more smoothly.

5) In his book, Hire With Your Head and tape program, Power Hiring , Lou Adler suggests a two-question pattern for each past job: 1. Overview and Impact – ‘Give me a quick overview of your job, the company, and describe the biggest impact you made.’ 2. Organization Chart and Team Project – Have candidate draw an org chart and describe a team or management project and their specific role.

6) (see Power Staffing Objective Interview and Power Hiring Fact-Finding Worksheet)

 

 Interview To Win:

How you can beat the odds and receive an offer. Reading these interview tips should markedly help your chances.

I. Interviewing 101

It is said that good employees return five times their salary to employers in the form of increased revenues or cost reductions.Said another way; employers want to hire people who are problem solvers. The preparation stage is dedicated to packaging your strengths (or problem-solving abilities) so you can clearly present them to a potential employer.

First, you must know yourself. You can start by asking yourself these questions:

  • What are my career goals – both in my next job and five years down the road?
  • What do I like (or dislike) about my career/job?
  • What experience do I want to gain in my next assignment?
  • What are my key strengths and weaknesses?

It might be good to rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 on the list of traits on page one – or to simply write down your positive and negative qualities on a piece of paper.

Second, you need to “package your positives” so they can be effectively presented to the employer. For instance, you might try one of these ideas:

  • Draw your current company or department organizational chart to show where you fit, to whom you report, and what your responsibilities are.
  • Prepare a list of major accomplishments (school, personal, and work related). Be specific in terms of dollars saved, percentage increases, units produced, goals achieved, etc.
  • Analyze the things you do well or enjoy the most. These are usually keys to job satisfaction in future positions.
  • Prepare examples of your work to demonstrate your achievements during the interview (if the opportunity presents itself). Videotapes, design drawings, project notebooks, and letters of recommendation are all good examples.
  • Prepare a list of special training courses and seminars attended as well as degrees received (with GPA). Request copies of transcripts you do not already have.

In short, you need to assess your ability to help a potential employer solve his problems by reducing costs or increasing revenues!

Third, you also need to “package your negatives.” All of us have shortcomings or failures that we must deal with positively if we are to leave the impression we have learned from those failures or are working to correct a weakness. While we can’t deal with every possibility, we offer these key thoughts:

  • Never speak negatively of a former employer. Try to find something positive you learned from that experience and stress this in your conversation.
  • When asked why you left a former employer, you might acknowledge some blame on your part, but generally, these are acceptable reasons:

Lack of challenge

Poor location

Not enough opportunity for advancement

Inadequate compensation

Instability of employer

Lack of prestige, pride, or acceptable working conditions

  • Don’t dwell on former failures. Acknowledge them, indicate that you have learned from the experience, and then move on!
  • If there are any “skeletons” in your closet – like a criminal record, a personal situation, a dismissal, or another serious negative – make us aware of it at once so we can help you and the employer deal with it!
  • Above all, you must communicate the idea that you are aware of your shortcomings and are striving to overcome any deficiencies which occurred in previous positions – and that you are open to suggestions for improvement.
  • You should have a list of references readily available with complete home and work phone numbers. Peers and supervisors are the preferred references. 

Fourth, learn as much about the opportunity as possible. We will help in this regard, but together we should know the following before the interview:

  • Name of company and if they are a division of another firm.
  • Company outline (number of employees, locations, and sales volume).
  • The position for which you are being considered and its main responsibility.
  • Whom you’ll see, their titles, and for whom you’ll work directly.
  • Employer profitability, stability, major competitors, and future prospects.
  • Directions to (and time of) the interview – plus a phone number in case you are detained.

Your library has many reference manuals to supplement the data we will provide. Asking others in your field about the company’s image is also an excellent source of information.

Fifth, prepare a list of standard interviewing questions. Be ready to ask them at the appropriate time during the interview, and be sure to listen carefully to the answers. Generally, it is best to hold your questions until later in the interview so you can tailor them to the pertinent topics. You can also show active listening by asking for amplification or clarification. Examples of questions that stimulate open-ended conversations with employers include the following:

  • What are the most important responsibilities of the job? *
  • To whom will I report and what is his/her background? *
  • What support or training will be available to help me learn what I need to know to be successful?
  • Will I mainly inherit projects or initiate them? *
  • Is this a team environment or an individual contributor role? *
  • What is the most important thing I can do to help your firm during the first 90 days of my employment? *
  • What did my predecessor leave – or is this a new position?
  • What criteria will be used to evaluate my performance?
  • Is there a formal evaluation process?
  • Will I have subordinates? If so, what are their strengths/weaknesses? *
  • What aspects of my background make me right or wrong for this position? *
  • What will my work setting be like (private office, common area, etc.)?
  • How much will I be expected to travel?
  • What is a typical workweek?
  • With whom will I interact most (peer, customers, vendors, etc.)?
  • What would be the next logical position after I successfully complete this assignment? What kind of timetable do you foresee?
  • What brought you to this firm and what is your background?

(* – good phone interviewing questions)

Sixth, have a well-prepared briefcase or notebook. Women and men should limit themselves to one handheld item (briefcase, purse, or portfolio). Carry it in the left hand so that you are prepared to shake hands with the right hand without shuffling. Items you should have with include: 

  • A fully charged notebook and/or tablet, 2 pens (black or blue ink is best for completing employment applications).
  • At least 3 copies of your resume and a copy of any profile documents prepared by us. (If a profile was submitted to the employer before making the decision to interview you, we can provide a copy of the profile to you prior to the personal interview.) Be sure you verify spelling, grammar, and content of both our profile and your resume prior to this interview. Any gaps in employment must have a ready explanation.
  • Breath mints and any minor medication needed during the day.
  • Information about the employer so you can do a final review while waiting.
  • This booklet, for a last minute refresher on interviewing skills.
  • Examples of your accomplishments such as design drawings, project manuals, or videotapes – in case an opportunity to use them presents itself.
  • Copies of your transcripts and diplomas.
  • Your complete reference list and letters of recommendation.
  • Copies of your last two performance reviews (if possible).

Now you are ready to visit the employer – except for a couple of very critical things! Arrange your schedule to get a good night’s sleep before the interview and avoid the use of alcohol, which will leave your skin with an unhealthy pallor. Likewise, overeating or rich foods taken the day before will take a toll on your energy level the day of the interview. 

II.          Phone Interviewing Tips

Since a phone interview is often your initial contact with a potential employer, it is worthwhile to discuss some tips on improving this first impression. After all, it may be your only opportunity to “sell yourself” and to have a trial run for the face-to-face interview. When you interview for contracting positions, the phone interview usually is your only opportunity to sell yourself. 

Normally, we will be able to forewarn you as to when a client will be calling. We’ll also be able to tell you specifically who the caller is, what his position is, the position for which you are being considered, and some background on the company. Based on this information, you should try to develop several questions that will be helpful in gathering additional information about the position. Some questions listed in the “Interview Preparation” section (step five) have been marked with an asterisk to indicate good phone interviewing questions.

The objective of a phone interview is to gain an invitation for a personal interview and to gather more information to be used in future steps. If you are to be a “problem solver,” one thing you need to do during the phone interview is to determine what problem is this employer trying to solve by hiring you.

            Some other tips include:

  • Do not discuss money, benefits, or vacation at this stage.
  • Have a pad, pen, and copy of your resume near the phone.
  • Get to a quiet phone or office to call the interviewer back at a more convenient time. Avoid background noise like TV’s, stereos, and other conversations. Also, avoid cordless phones due to their poor transmission quality.
  • Be sure you get the caller’s name and position with the employer. Repeat it to him/her and write it down!
  • Hold the receiver one-half inch from your lips and speak directly into it.
  • Smile and be enthusiastic – it comes through the phone!
  • Don’t eat, smoke, or chew gum during a phone conversation.
  • Speak in a conversational manner and be sure to speak loudly enough to be heard – with some variance in inflection and tone. Tape record yourself responding to some normal phone interviewing questions asked by your spouse or someone else. Hear how you sound to others and practice improving that impression.
  • Let the interviewer do most of the talking, but use questions to stimulate the conversation as needed. When he/she asks you a question, don’t just answer “yes” or “no” – expound on the question and use the opportunity to “sell” your skills and experience.
  • When the interview appears to be ending, find an opportunity to ask for a face-to-face interview.
  • When the interview is over, call us so we can follow up with the client and work toward that all-important personal interview.

III.       Handling Interview Questions

Every interviewer has a different style based on his or her personality and the role they play in the interview process. Some firms prefer group or team interviewing techniques while others prefer a series of individual interviews. Most interviewers try to put you at ease in a casual setting but others will test your poise through the use of a very formal situation or stress interview. 

Whatever the environment, interviewing revolves around the use of questions. How well you handle those questions may very well determine whether or not you achieve your final objective – soliciting an offer!

The first thing you should do when asked a question is to be sure you understand what is being asked. Sometimes this will require a question by you in order to clarify exactly what the interviewer wants to find out by his/her inquiry. Once you’re sure what the topic is, you can formulate a meaningful answer. This reverse questioning, or repeating of the question, is called reflective communication and will demonstrate your ability to listen and reach mutual understanding. This will also buy you time to formulate a meaningful response.

It is important to be specific and concise in your responses. Don’t stray from the subject. Avoid using nebulous phrases or hyperbole. (For example, “I produced huge cost savings in a short time.”) Be specific to enhance your credibility and help the interviewer focus on your specific problem-solving abilities. (For instance, “I generated cost savings of $800,000 in my first seven weeks.”) This is an excellent opportunity to introduce examples of your accomplishments.

Every question can be answered in shades of black, white, or gray. If you do not have the skills being asked for, simply state that you have not yet been exposed to that learning experience, but you are confident you can learn given some time and support. “Yes” or “no” answers should not be used since they eliminate your opportunity to “sell” your abilities or fully explain your answers.

Treat your interviewer as an equal. Remember, he may be just as inexperienced or nervous as you. A peer approach puts most people rapidly at ease. If stressful questions are used, remember that they are being asked for the purpose of evaluating your ability to think on your feet and show poise. Accept them as such and answer straightforwardly. Should a flagrantly prejudicial or controversial subject be raised, simply state that you do not see how your views on that subject could affect your ability to handle the obligations of the job. If you handle the situations calmly, the skilled interviewer will move on to another subject without being offended. 

Above all, it is important to practice your responses to normal interviewer questions. For that purpose, we’ve listed below some sample questions that you should become proficient in handling before your face-to-face interview. The use of a tape recorder and a practice partner will make this preparation easier and more effective.

  • What could your current company do to be more efficient?
  • What things are important for your job satisfaction?
  • What accomplishments in your current job make you most proud?
  • What are your most difficult (or most rewarding) job responsibilities now?
  • What particular strengths and weaknesses do you have?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • What are your short and long-term career goals?
  • How would your associates describe your personality?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • Why are you leaving your current company?
  • Which of your past jobs did you like the least (or the best)?
  • What did you like (or dislike) about your last supervisor?
  • With what kind of people do you find it most difficult to work?
  • Why aren’t you earning more money?
  • What do you expect to earn?
  • What is your typical day like?
  • What kinds of decisions are most difficult for you?
  • How has your current job prepared you to take on more responsibility?
  • How do you manage to interview while you are still employed?
  • Tell me about one of your biggest mistakes and how you handled it.
  • What are some of the things on which you and your supervisor disagree?
  • How would you rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of ambition?
  • What are you looking for in your next job?
  • What aspects of your job do you consider most crucial?
  • How did you choose your college? How did you pay for it?
  • Do you prefer working with others or alone?
  • Describe the work environment in which you felt most comfortable.
  • Have you ever resigned or been fired from a job? Why?
  • How well do you take direction or coaching?
  • How long have you been thinking about changing jobs?
  • How many hours per week do you currently work?
  • How would you define a conducive environment?
  • How willing are you to travel or relocate after being hired?
  • Can you work under pressure?
  • Describe a situation where your work was criticized. How did that make you feel?
  • Are you a leader or a follower?
  • Why have you changed jobs so frequently?
  • Why have you been out of work so long?
  • Do you prefer staff or line work? Why?
  • If you could start over, what would you do differently in your career?
  • What do your subordinates/supervisors/peers think of you?
  • Would you object to working for a woman (or a minority)?

NOTE: For contracting position interviews:

The focus of the questions will be on your skills. The interviewer is simply trying to determine if you have the skills necessary to perform the job. Your ability to get the job done, not your ability to fit the company’s culture, is the most important thing. If there is a chance the contracting position may convert to a permanent position, you will be asked more of the regular interview questions.

Fielding questions on salary requirements are particularly difficult for many candidates. The odds are said to be 6,000 to 1 that you will guess the exact figure the employer has in mind. In addition, you have the advantage of having a third party (STS) who can serve as a go-between to ensure that both your needs and the needs of the employer are met. You should use this to your advantage wherever possible by avoiding the conversation altogether. We have already provided the interviewer your salary history. You most likely will not be asked to interview unless there is a way for the employer to make it worth your while.

It is also in your favor to postpone the discussion of money for as long as possible so the employer sees all the ways you can help them solve their problem. Your objective is to convince them that your salary is an “investment,” not an “expense!” 

If asked directly about your salary requirements, simply reiterate your current salary and say that you’re sure they will make you a fair offer after evaluating what you can bring to the party. If pressed further, you can give a range of $5,000, beginning at your current (or last) salary level. Normally, anything over a 15% salary increase will be considered high, unless you are working from a low base or are looking at a major career move.

It is best to ask for 24 hours to get back to the employer on expected salary level. This allows you time to think about the overall opportunity, confer with us, and have us call the employer back! Likewise, if an offer is made during the first interview, ask for 24 hours to respond. Accepting or rejecting an “on-the-spot” offer may damage our ability to improve the offer or keep the lines of communication open.

NOTE: For contract or temporary position interviews:

Never discuss salary with the company when you are interviewing for a contract position. Explain to the interviewer that you will be the actual employee of another company and that you negotiate with that company on salary. The company you are interviewing with will receive your services, but they do not determine your salary. The company you are interviewing with will be billed by the company your are the employee of, and the rate is negotiated between the two companies.

As a contractor, you will usually earn a higher hourly rate than a comparable permanent employee. If you are being considered as a possible permanent hire following the contract assignment, do not disclose your hourly rate. This may knock you out of contention for conversion to permanent since your rate may be out of line with the company’s salary structure.

IV.        Body Language and Attitude

The experts tell us that your visual impression or body language, as well as your attitude, are just as important as what you actually say when it comes to the overall effect you have on others. Generally, it is important to convey the image of a person with whom the interviewer would like to work. Enthusiasm, interest level, sincerity, openness, and warmth create the “chemistry” that often makes or breaks a hiring decision.

We all need to be aware of the little things that others see in our facial expressions, postures, energy levels, and gestures. Generally, you should be dynamic and friendly, but one notch less than the person interviewing you. It is obvious that interviewers prefer those who smile vs. those who frown, so smile! However, your facial expression should change to reflect the mood of the conversation.

Nodding agreement encourages others to talk and lets them know that you understand what is being said. Your head should be held erect (not tilted or stiff) during the interview. Remember to keep your hands away from your face or neck while talking 

Eye contact is one of the best aspects of body language. Good eye contact with the interviewer sends a message of trustworthiness, confidence, and credibility while encouraging open discussion. On the other hand, poor eye contact often reflects a lack of self-confidence, low self-image, and lack of enthusiasm.

It is particularly important to maintain 10-15 seconds of eye contact when first meeting a person before looking away. Do not stare into the other person’s eyes but come back to the eye contact often during your discussion. 

Volumes have been written about a firm (but not crushing) handshake. In our society, a handshake is a nonverbal message that we are genuinely happy to meet or see the other person. A limp version of this greeting sends a very weak message to the other person. It is important that our grasp reflects the interest and enthusiasm we want to convey. No more than two shakes are ever required, and only one is preferred for most business meetings. Again, be sure that your purse or briefcase is in your left hand to accommodate a sudden introduction.

Never sit until asked to do so by the interviewer and, when you do, sit erect with both feet on the floor. Don’t fidget or change positions too often. Tapping your fingers, wringing your hands, looking at your watch, or twirling your pen will only distract from the image of a professional communicator who is concentrating on the very serious task of evaluating career opportunities.

V.           Interview Etiquette

(Dress, Grooming, and Manners)

The best rule of thumb for what to wear is always wear what you would wear if your biggest customer were coming to visit! In most cases, that would require a suit or conservative sport coat and business slacks with a tie. Women should never wear pants. High heels should also be avoided since it is unlikely they will be the normal footwear for either a factory or the daily routine at the office. Men’s suits should be blue or gray, if possible, and should be cleaned and pressed. Neckties should not exceed 3½ inches in width and be conservative in nature. White shirts are still preferred, but pastels are certainly acceptable if matched properly. 

One of the best benefits of being professionally dressed is that it makes you feel more confident and at ease in a stressful situation. Skillful interviewers will often invite you to remove a coat or tie during the interview. You may do so if offered, especially on tours or in hot or dirty areas. Safety glasses are generally required in these areas as well as ear plugs and safety helmets. As a guest, be sure to cooperate with these requests readily.

Obviously, it is important to bathe the day the day of the interview as well as to trim and clean fingernails. You know when and how to prepare your hair for “big events” like an interview, so plan your haircuts, washing, and styling accordingly. Always have your hair trimmed at least monthly. Men should avoid hair below the collar or over the ears. While a certain percentage of employers still object to facial hair, a neatly trimmed mustache or beard generally will not reduce your odds of interviewing success.

Avoid heavy make-up, colognes, or perfumes! Your are there to get a job, not a date! Also, minimize jewelry to prevent projecting an image that will detract from the successful completion of your mission.

You want to present a clean-cut, conservative image to a potential employer. Your manners and demeanor will compliment your appearance. Be courteous, polite, and appreciative (but not subservient) with everyone you meet – from the receptionist to the president. You should project a confident (but not cocky) presence to all who meet you. You can easily maintain your enthusiasm by focusing on the potential rewards of this process – a better job! 

Good etiquette begins before you arrive! If you are detained, for whatever reason, stop and call. We will have provided you the number for that purpose. The old saying applies: “If you call, you’re never late.” Plan to be at the location 10-15 minutes early to allow enough time to find the interviewer’s office and nearest lavatory. A last minute restroom stop is always in order, and a few deep breaths will help diffuse any case of “the nerves.”

Drug tests are a way of life in American industry today. You may be asked to participate in one during a plant visit and should do so willingly. Cooperating with this and other requests will help form the image of a candidate with whom people will like to work.

Smoking is another “hot potato” these days. Avoid it even if the opportunity is offered. The odor your clothes will carry for the rest of the interview is too high a price to pay. Likewise, gum chewing is off limits and breath mints should be used only when you have time between interviews.

Applications for employment seem redundant to resume-carrying applicants, especially when the company has even more extensive information about you from us. Nevertheless, if asked, you should cheerfully complete the employer’s application as requested. Having your resume and reference list at command will expedite this process. Unless pressed for specifics, always leave the “expected compensation” area blank or simply put “negotiable.” However, you should always complete the “current compensation” questions with your total current compensation package spelled out (including base salary, bonuses, commissions, and overtime).

Always address the interviewer as Mr. or Mrs. until asked to do otherwise. This connotes respect for his or her position and does not rush familiarity.

Interviewing during meals can be difficult because it involves two functions of the mouth that are not very compatible – talking and eating! There are, however, some hints that can make this a more positive experience:

  • Order light foods that are not greasy or messy. Overstuffed sandwiches can be as deadly as spaghetti!
  • Parallel your host’s tastes and price selection whenever possible.
  • To minimize potential messes with tossed salads, order salad dressing “on the side.”
  • Avoid finger foods or those requiring debunking like fish or fowl.
  • Pause between bites to talk – and rest your utensils on your plate while you are talking.
  • The best practice is to never drink alcohol during a business meal. If pressed, order only one, and not an exotic mixed drink. A glass of white wine or a light beer reflects the tastes of a much more disciplined person than an order for a double martini!
  • Avoid smoking if at all possible. If you must smoke, limit it to after dinner.
  • Be courteous and cordial to all waiters and serving people.
  • Do not offer to pay the bill. An employer would not have invited you if they did not expect to pick up the tab.
  • Finally, be sure to thank your host for the meal and the chance to get to know him or her on a more personal basis. 

VI.        Interview Close and Follow-Up

It will be obvious when the interview is drawing to a close. Only three things can happen at this stage:

  • You will be asked back for a second interview.
  • You will receive an offer.
  • You will be rejected based on this interview.

Obviously, you want to leave every interview with either the first or second outcome. You will recall that your objective in any interview is to solicit an offer that would make you want to accept the position. Put another way, you can’t accept or reject an offer that is never made!

NOTE: For contracting position interviews:

The interviewer will almost never make an offer at this point. You may be asked for additional skills screening perhaps even a skill test. If the interviewer is confident of your skill level, he will contact our agency to indicate any interest in bringing you in on contract. The reason you will not receive an offer is there are still details to be worked out with our agency, such as the billing rate, payment terms, etc. Since we are experienced in resolving these matters, it is imperative that you do not discuss matters such as salary with the interviewer. Remember that getting you the contract position is our goal as well as yours. We can better protect your interest due to our experience, so leave the details to us and focus on proving your skills to the interviewer.

At the conclusion of the interview, there are three things you need to accomplish:

  • Tell the key interviewer (probably also your supervisor-to-be) that you are interested in working not only for the firm, but also for him personally. Interviewers like to hear positive things, too. If the “chemistry” is good between you, he needs to know it so he’ll go to bat for you.
  • Summarize what you can do to solve what you perceive to be the employer’s greatest problem.
  • Determine what the next step in the process will be (second interview, test, physicals, reference checks, etc.).

It is critical that you have the correct spelling, titles, and addresses for the people you have met. If a second interview is the next step, be sure to get the names and titles of those whom you will see on that interview.

The close is an excellent time to probe the interviewer with questions about how he sees your strengths and shortcomings. It is also timely to reinforce your abilities. Do not show disappointment if you don’t receive encouragement at this stage – it can very well be one final test of your ability to deal gracefully with rejection.

It is perfectly O.K. to ask when you can expect to hear from the employer, but you should not mention other opportunities for which you are being considered. We will communicate that to them during our debriefing.

Close with a firm handshake and a sincere “thank you” to the interviewer for his time. Call us so we can effectively follow up on your behalf. Let us take advantage of our third party status to learn about the employer’s interest level and concerns.

Good taste dictates that you should mail a follow-up letter within 24 hours! It should be typed (or neatly written) and addressed to the main interviewer or the person to whom you will report. The letter should again thank them for their time and consideration and ask for the job! It should portray you as being confident and ready to meet the challenges of the position. By mentioning the others with whom you talked, it will be obvious that you were attentive, interested in the needs of the employer, and eager to be a member of their team.

The timing of this letter’s arrival is critical since one of its purposes is to distinguish you from other interviewees the company may have seen during the interim. 

Another objective of the letter is to demonstrate your writing ability. It also presents an excellent opportunity to recap your problem-solving abilities and make specific mention of major projects or tasks that the company wants to address in this hire.

Having said all this, it is good to remember that common sense is the most important thing you can bring to any interview. Interviews are, after all, a purposeful exchange between two parties with common interests. There is no substitute for good preparation and conscious effort in preparing for interviews. However, your ability to “think on your feet” may well separate you from the crowd.

You may not succeed on every interview, but you’ll clearly improve your odds of success with each good attempt you make! As Vince Lombardi once said, “Practice does not make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.” We hope you will continue to include us in your career plans and we look forward to sharing in your success.

 

Professional Interview Tips:

There are three equally important steps in the interview process that, if done successfully, will make you stand out as an exceptional candidate.

 

Step one:            Preparation

Step two:            The Interview

Step three:            Follow-up

 

Step One:Preparation

The most important step you can take is to prepare yourself for the interview, both mentally and physically, before the interview. 

Preparing Your Mind

Know the Company: Read all the information we have provided to you about the company and the job. Do additional research if necessary. This will help you discuss and ask meaningful questions with confidence.

Know Thyself: Know why you are leaving your current job and why you are pursuing employment with the present company. In the interview, you might be asked for your reasons for leaving your job. Prepare an answer that puts you in the best light possible and then practice delivering your answers. This will allow you to concentrate on listening during the interviewing rather than focusing on what you are going to say next.

Most interview questions are of three types:

  1. Short synopsis: Usually preceded by the question, “Tell me about yourself.”
  2. Conversational: Questions that are asked by the employer in the context of a                                conversation.
  3. “Quizzes”: To explore your technical qualifications to see how well you understand the job.

 

PREPARE FOR MOST INTERVIEW QUESTIONS AN EMPLOYER MIGHT ASK YOU:

 

  1. Use one page of paper to write out a synopsis of your whole career. Develop a progressive track as to what you’ve done in previous jobs from a results-oriented standpoint, incorporating such action words as:

 

planned                                    organized                        lead to                                    conceived

created                                    directed                                    contributed to                        implemented

originated                        lead                                    achieved                        formulated

initiated                                    supervised                        increased                        managed

developed                        guided                                    evaluated                        coordinated

Write the synopsis a few times to perfect it and to memorize it, then practice saying it out loud a few times until it flows naturally.

  1. On a few sheets of paper, with one job per sheet, describe the main functions you performed in each job, paying attention primarily to those functions that relate to the current job description for which you are interviewing.

 

  1. On a last sheet of paper, draw the diagram below. Use this diagram to match your previous responsibilities with the qualifications of the new job. First, list four or five responsibilities you know exist in the new job. Then, match each responsibility in the new job with the same or a similar responsibility that you have had in previous jobs.

 

New Job Responsibilities                   Similarities to Previous Jobs

 

The more you rehearse what you’ve written in these three steps, the better you will do!

PREPARE A SET OF QUESTIONS TO ASK DURING THE INTERVIEW WITH THE PEOPLE YOU ARE GOING TO MEET.

Why ask questions?

We feel that developing a repertoire of good questions to ask the interviewer(s) is the most important interview preparation you can do. For instance, you may want to know how the organization is set up and where you will be fitting in; what the anticipated future of this particular position is; and whether the company offers classes or education to further your skill sets. Think of questions you need to know that pertain to the position you are interviewing for. Asking good questions:

1. Demonstrates good listening and people skills

2. Demonstrates sincerity and interest

3. Shows how well you take direction (through your response to their response)

4. Keeps your mind organized

5. Helps to keep your train of thought and the interview moving forward.

6. Gets you armed for the next interview in which you can display your knowledge about the company, where you feel you might fit in, and how you might contribute to the company if you were hired.

Here are more examples of questions that will separate you from the rest. Come up with some of your own questions to help you find out more about the company, the position and how you fit into the picture.

  1. What are the major short/long range company objectives? (You can specify this question to the department you are interviewing for)

2.   What are the company’s characteristics it considers to be unique or attractive?

3.   What other industries or outside influences effect your company’s growth?

4.   In what area does this company excel? or have limitations?

5.   What are some common denominators in successful employees in this company?

6.   In what areas does the company need polishing or development?

  1. What would you add or subtract from the incumbent’s performance or company performance to increase production or efficiency?

8. Based on what you’ve seen of me so far, where do you think I can contribute most effectively?

 

The most important question you will ask will come at the end of the interview. Ask your interviewer(s):

“Do you have any concerns regarding my qualifications for this position?”

This will allow your interviewer(s) to voice any concerns regarding your background and/or technical skill sets. Here’s your chance to handle any objection with your own explanation. Sometimes people can misinterpret or misunderstand something in your resume or something you’ve said in the interview, and so, NOW you have the chance to clear it up!

 

Physical Presentation

A good image produces a strong first impression. It is highly recommended that you choose your best, dark suit. Even though the company’s environment may be casual, always dress professionally.

 

Men – Best to go with a white or striped shirt versus a dark, solid colored one.

Women – Suits are best, but professional dresses are fine.

Unacceptable:

– Heavy makeup

– Heavy cologne/perfume (no cologne or perfume is best)

– Scuffed up shoes

– Any form of seductive wear

More tips:

– When you need an overcoat, it should be longer than your suit coat.

– Make sure you are clean shaved and have a recent haircut

Be 7-10 minutes early!

– Rehearse your opening.

– Rehearse eye contact.

– Rehearse your voice, dropping it at the end of sentences. It gives you an air of

confidence and credibility.

– Your handshake should be a firm full-handed grasp.

– Eat before so your stomach doesn’t growl during the interview.

– Wake up early enough to be awake during your meeting.

– Some interviews take place over lunch. Do not smoke, chew gum, drink alcohol,

or eat anything messy or strong (like garlic), regardless of what the interviewer is doing.

You might think you are doing a good job fitting in, when in fact, he or she might be

testing you to see what you think is appropriate behavior. Smoking or drinking during

an interview is never appropriate.

– Make sure that the good impression you tried to carry out at the beginning of the

interview remains just as good throughout and at the end of the interview. Studies

show that people remember the beginning and the end of events better than the

middle. So continue to pay attention to all the details until you get home.

 

Step Two:The Interview

Position your attitude before going into the interview to one of enthusiasm and energy. Not only does the employer want to know if you can do the job, he or she wants to know how you feel about the job. You can never go wrong by showing sincere interest during the interview.

Break The Ice

Use humor. While you are waiting, notice what’s in the office to make conversation, such as a picture. Try gentle flattery such as, “I’ve been looking forward to our meeting.”   Observe the mannerisms and style of your interviewer and attempt to “mirror” that style. If you are with someone who is loud and aggressive, modify your behavior to be more outgoing. If your interviewer is reserved and you tend to be very gregarious, tone yourself down a bit.   The objective here is to show the interviewer that you will fit into the group.

Tips on Answering Questions

If you prepared your answers to common questions as detailed above, you will find that you will be able to answer the questions more thoroughly and with more confidence than if you came in unprepared. Relax and make sure you understand what is being asked before you attempt to answer, and don’t be afraid to ask questions to clarify. It is important when answering your interviewer(s) ‘ questions that you remain focused on the question at hand. A good interviewer (s) will have an agenda and they will want to stick to it. Do NOT go off on tangents, or make your answer extremely lengthy.

It is also important to help your interviewer “see” what you have done. For example, if your interviewer asks you what skill sets you feel are your strengths, it is important to answer not only with the specific skill sets, but describe specific projects, and how long you worked on each project, in which you utilized the skill set. Bring in examples of your work, if possible, such as pictures, sample codes, process diagrams, etc.

Questions About Money

In an interview, DO NOT bring up the issue of money. The interview should be utilized as an information gathering and giving session. However, should the prospective employer ask you what salary you would be looking for in your next career endeavor, simply reply that you do not want money to be the deciding factor and that you would entertain their best possible offer.

“Do You Have Any Questions That You Would Like To Ask Me?”

Don’t be afraid to pull out the set of questions you prepared before the interview (see above). It will show the interviewer that you have thought meaningfully about the company and the job before the interview. Be sure to listen to your interviewer’s complete response, wait a couple seconds, and then respond. Do not step on the end of their sentences. Not only does patience demonstrate good listening skills but it gives them space to open up and answer your questions fully. 

Step Three: Follow-up

  1. If you are being represented by a recruiter, call them as soon as possible following your interview to let me know how things went, what your impressions are, and if you are interested in taking the next steps in the interview process. They can offer advice on how to proceed in the process.
  2. Write a thank you note. Hand write or type a thank you note or email and send it the same day. It is common courtesy to thank everyone for the time they spent with you, but it is just as important to indicate to the appropriate person(s) your interest in the position. If you are NOT interested in the job, and you are being represented by a recruiter, it would be wise to discuss it with them first before sending your letter. The recruiter can suggest ways to “leave the door open” to other opportunities within the organization in the future. Your thank you note should contain the following:

a)     An introductory paragraph. This is where you should “thank” them for their time.

b)     A short paragraph on why you feel you are the person for the position; what you feel you would contribute to this job and group (pick out 2-4 specific things that were discussed during the interview where you know you can make an immediate contribution).

c)     A short paragraph on how you see the company benefiting you. By stating specific details of what was discussed during the interview, you are proving to them you listened, and you are interested in working with them!

d)     A closing short paragraph should state that you hope to continue your discussions and offer them references or any other information they would need in making a decision on your behalf.

If you have any questions after reading these tips, please feel free to call us any time!

BEST WISHES ON A VERY SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEW!

 

Top 5 Tips for your next interview:

1. Wait 30 minutes before making a yes/no decision on a candidate! The

majority of interviewers are intuitive. You fall in this category if you

judge candidate competency based on good communication skills,

intelligence, self-confidence, and strong interpersonal skills. We assume

this profile means the candidate has initiative, is a good team leader,

and has vision. Most will make this call in the first 30 minutes of the

interview. While these traits are important, their mere possession does

not indicate job competency.

 

2. Listen 5 times more than you talk. If you’re talking too much during

the interview, then you are probably selling. Instead, use the interview

to market the position and assess the candidate’s competency at the same

time. Give the candidate one of the performance objectives and then ask

her to talk about a comparable accomplishment. Remember to LISTEN to the

answer. She feels like you care about her abilities and gets a taste of

the exciting challenges ahead, while you assess her thinking skills.

(Hint: Ask this type of question for several of the performance objectives

of the position.)

 

3. It’s the answers that matter, not the questions. Most strong

candidates are only average interviewers. It’s the responsibility of the

interviewer to get the candidate to give you the correct information. Ask

candidates to describe their most significant accomplishment to determine

competency. (Hint: Spend about 10 minutes on each accomplishment and ask

a lot of fact-finding questions to get the full picture.)

 

4. Create an opportunity gap. Paint a picture of what the candidate will

learn by taking this job. And do it before you’ve asked too many questions.

 

5. Test all offers before making them formal. Ask, “What would you think

about an offer of $___?” Prepare a preliminary offer and test every aspect

before making it formal. The worst thing you can do is to extend an

untested offer and then wait for a response. You’ve lost control and

prevented open communications. If you hear “I have to think about it,” it

means you’ve moved too fast.

 

Top Ten Technical Resume Writing Tips:

  1. List your technical knowledge first in an itemized fashion. If you’re a Programmer or SW Engineer, use as many buzz words as you can conjure up which reflect your work and school experience. List all operating systems and UNIX flavors you know. List all programming languages and platforms with which you’re experienced. List all software you’ve thoroughly used. This will satisfy the visual curiosities of hiring managers and OCR scanners conducting key word searches. If you’re not a Programmer or SW Engineer, still include the buzzwords and nomenclature particular to your specific discipline so that the reader can discern your technical capability. Also, a technical manager may not be the first one to review your resume. Often a non-technical Human Resources representative will be scanning resumes for key words and phrases particular to the job and will base their selection of candidates on finding these key words and phrases in the body of your resume. Anticipate your audience.
  2. List your qualifications in order of relevance, from most to least. Only list your degree and educational qualifications first if they are truly relevant to the job for which you are applying. Feel free to step away from convention regarding the arrangement of your resume, but always maintain a logical chronological order when listing your career history itself. Most employers will want to look at continuity in your employment history. If there are large time gaps in your work history, a note explaining this will often maintain an employers interest.         Anticipate questions your reader may have about your background.
  3. Quantify your experience wherever possible. Cite numerical figures, such as monetary budgets/funds saved, time periods/efficiency improved, lines of code written/debugged, numbers of machines administered/fixed, etc. which demonstrate progress or accomplishments due directly to your work.
  4. Begin sentences with action verbs. Portray yourself as someone who is active, uses their brain, and gets things done. Stick with the past tense, even for descriptions of currently held positions, to avoid confusion.
  5. Don’t sell yourself short. This is by far the biggest mistake of all resumes, technical and otherwise. Your experiences are worthy for review by hiring managers. Treat your resume as an advertisement for you. Be sure to thoroughly “sell” yourself by highlighting all of your strengths. If you’ve got a valuable asset which doesn’t seem to fit into any existing components of your resume, list it anyway as its own resume segment.
  6. Be concise. As a rule of thumb, resumes reflecting five years or less experience should fit on one page. More extensive experience can justify usage of a second page. Consider three pages (about 15 years or more experience) an absolute limit. Avoid lengthy descriptions of whole projects of which you were only a part. Consolidate action verbs where one task or responsibility encompasses other tasks and duties. Minimize usage of articles (the, an, a) and never use “I” or other pronouns to identify yourself.
  7. Omit needless items. Leave all these things off your resume: social security number, marital status, health, citizenship, age, scholarships, irrelevant awards, irrelevant associations and memberships, irrelevant publications, irrelevant recreational activities, a second mailing address (“permanent address” is confusing and never used), references, reference of references (“available upon request”), travel history, previous pay rates, previous supervisor names, reasons for leaving previous jobs, and components of your name which you really never use (i.e. middle names).
  8. Have a trusted friend review your resume. Be sure to pick someone who is attentive to details, can effectively critique your writing, and will give an honest and objective opinion. Seriously consider their advice. Get a third and fourth opinion if you can.
  9. Proofread, proofread, proofread. Be sure to catch all spelling errors, grammatical weaknesses, unusual punctuation, and inconsistent capitalization. Proofread it numerous times over at least two days to allow a fresh eye to catch any hidden mistakes. Do not send out a resume with typos.
  10. Lasers print it on plain, white paper. Handwriting, typing, dot matrix printing, and even ink jet printing look pretty cheesy. Stick with laser prints. Don’t waste your money on special bond paper, matching envelopes, or any color deviance away from plain white. Your resume will be photocopied, faxed, and scanned numerous times, defeating any special paper efforts, assuming your original resume doesn’t first end up in the circular file. Unless you’re hand delivering your resume, adhere to this rule.

 

Starting A New Career:

Giving notice is the most fearful part of making a career change. Fear of giving notice alone can keep one from making the wonderful career switch that they are so excited about.

Once you receive an offer and have accepted it we will provide you with a detailed email on how to give notice effectively.

When to give notice:

Many candidates, and recruiters for that matter, think that the best day to give notice is Friday afternoon. It is not. Especially not in the current corporate environment where counteroffers are considered a vital corporate tool and not an off-limits corporate taboo. Giving notice on Friday gives your employer and their team all weekend to develop a counteroffer strategy. You don’t want that.

Though the best time to give notice is ALWAYS as soon as possible after the written offer is accepted, if we can choreograph it, and often we can, the best time to give notice is Monday or Tuesday in the afternoon around 4:00pm. Then notice can be given and you won’t have to spend the rest of the day answering questions about why you are leaving and where you are going.

Your Letter of Resignation:

You will also need to write a letter of resignation and give it to your employer to open the resignation meeting. We suggest a very simple four-sentence, two-paragraph letter of reference that is direct and to the point. It is also filled with subtle subtext that helps make sure the counteroffer risk is reduced. Here is a letter, it is okay to use this letter verbatim.

Dear (employer’s name), 

Please accept this letter as my official notice of resignation. I appreciate the work we have been able to accomplish together at (company name), but I have now made a commitment to another organization and will begin with them in two weeks.

Know that it is my intention to work diligently with you and the company to wrap up as much as possible in the next two weeks to make my resignation as smooth as possible. If you have any suggestions on how we can best accomplish that goal, I hope you will share your thoughts with me, as I am eager to leave on the most positive note possible. 

Sincerely,

 

Face to Face Meeting With Supervisor:

Finally, here’s the resigning candidate-client verbal icebreaker needed to open the “Giving Notice” meeting. It is merely a simple paraphrasing of the resignation letter. We suggest starting your Resignation Meeting conversation by saying:

“(Employer’s name), I have made a commitment to join another organization and will begin working with them soon. Please accept this, my letter of resignation. I would like to discuss together how we can make my transition as smooth as possible for you and the company.”

This opening will provide you with the ability to get right to the point without unnecessary small talk. It also makes it clear you are not planning to talk about your decision to leave. Instead, it is clear that what you plan to discuss is the transition now that you have made the commitment to leave. It makes the “transition” the most important item to discuss in the conversation that is about to occur.

After you have written your letter, please email it to me so that I have a copy for our files. My main goal is to remind you that in your resignation conversation you do not need to talk about where you are going and what you are doing next. Rather, you should focus on your transition. The point is not to burn any bridges or be terse with your employer, but rather to make this a smooth and comfortable transition for the entire party involved.

It is important to reiterate, that you have made a commitment to another organization but at the same time you still, respectively, have the commitment to your current employer to give proper notice, and to spend the next two weeks dedicating your time and efforts appropriately.

RESIGNATION LETTER:

Dear ______,

Please accept this letter as my official notice of resignation. I appreciate the work we have been able to accomplish together at ABC Company, but I have now made a commitment to another organization and will begin work with them in two weeks.

Know that it is my intention to work diligently with you to wrap up as much as possible in the next two weeks to make my resignation as smooth as possible.

If you have any suggestions on how we can best accomplish that goal, I hope you will share your thoughts with me, as I am eager to leave on the most positive note possible.

Sincerely,

John Doe