Interview to Win
by Bill Nicholson, Resumes That Jump
Originally published: Feb 12, 2009
- You have achieved the first goal of your job search and that is to get an interview.
- Your second goal is to come to the interview fully prepared, with a good night’s sleep.
- You will need to be enthusiastic from start to finish.
- You want to position yourself to receive an offer.
- Learn as much as you can about the company from websites, SEC filings and press releases. The more current, the better.
- Find out with whom you will be meeting and gather any information you can from company prepared bio’s, the internet, etc. on these individuals.
- Carefully review your resume and be in a position to speak to every item on your resume (ideally, your resume has been tailored to meet the needs of this job, company and industry).
- Think of ways that you can differentiate yourself from other people who may also be applying for the job.
- Talk with a friend or colleague about your upcoming interview and practice challenging questions that you may be asked.
- Develop your "elevator speech"...this is your mantra that capsulates what you are about, in less than 30 seconds, regarding the job that you are competing for.
- Prepare questions for each person with whom you will be speaking. If you're interviewing with someone who has a job similar to the one that you are looking at – a peer – ask this person what he likes about the company and why he is successful.
- Draft somewhere between four and eight questions prepared for each interviewer…some of these questions will be the same for each interviewer and others will be tailored for a specific interviewer.
- Dress appropriately. Even if the company is business casual, wear proper business attire.
- Speak 50% of the time and make sure that the person conducting the interview uses the balance. This is critical!
- If you find yourself being “peppered” with questions and speaking a disproportionate amount of the time, politely transition into your questions..."Mr. Smith, you've asked me a series of compelling questions – may I turn the tables and ask you some of mine for a few minutes?"
- Look around this person’s office and find something of a personal nature that you may want to interject into the conversation…to the extent that it has some sort of business applicability – this is best (i.e., a plaque recognizing the interviewer's performance).
- Don't answer questions with a simple yes or no.
- Take opportunities in the conversation to compliment the company.
- Stay "on topic".
- Accurately assess your strengths, weaknesses and accomplishments when queried.
- Request a business card when you conclude.
- You may want to take a notebook with you and take notes during the interview to help you with any follow-up matters or, again, to indicate the fact that you are a good listener. This is a matter of personal preference. If it is something you feel comfortable doing, do it. If not, then don't do it.
- Be enthusiastic, be enthusiastic, be enthusiastic!
Compensation & Follow-Up
- Typically compensation is not discussed during the interview – it is usually taken up afterwards. If it does come up, address it tactfully, but try not to have it be the primary focus of your meeting.
- Send a thank-you letter or email (email in this day and age is certainly acceptable) to each person with whom you have interviewed and, to the extent that you can recite any of the pertinent issues taken up during a specific meeting, bring them back into play, particularly if it was something that differentiated or distinguished you.