What to Expect in a Job Interview


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This is the extended version of my "Do's and Don'ts of a Job Interview". Presented to college students at various institutions.

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What to Expect in a Job Interview

  1. 1. What to Expect in a Job Interview Do’s and Don’t of a Job Interview www.thesocialtrex.com
  2. 2. Get Their Attention <ul><li>A young student wanted to get into a University that had very stringent standards and was known for its 'creative' students. He was taken into the interview room and met by a gentleman sitting behind a large newspaper. With no eye-contact whatsoever the interviewer said &quot;You have exactly 30 seconds to get my attention&quot; and continued to read his outstretched paper. </li></ul><ul><li>! </li></ul>
  3. 3. ...he passed the interview
  4. 4. 7 Second Impression <ul><li>Confidence! </li></ul><ul><li>Firm Handshake </li></ul><ul><li>Eye Contact – look them directly in the eye </li></ul><ul><li>Direct and simple introduction: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Hello, my name is ____, it is great to meet you! </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. 29 Minute 53 Seconds <ul><li>Knowledgeable:  Do your homework and know more about the person and company than what is on their website. </li></ul><ul><li>3 degrees:  reach out to somebody that knows somebody and pick their brain!  Do more than visit a static website! </li></ul><ul><li>Honest & Transparent:  Tell the truth about your resume, don’t make excuses for shortcomings, but offer solutions. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t Be a Bad Date:  Be interesting, offer stories that are short, to the point and highlight successes and mistakes you learned from. </li></ul><ul><li>Engage in the conversation:  Just like above, it is a two-way conversation.  Don’t just ask questions about sales volume, benefits etc.  Instead, discuss how your long-term goals match with the company’s strategy. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Key Categories <ul><li>Personality </li></ul><ul><li>Experience </li></ul><ul><li>Relationship </li></ul><ul><li>Communication </li></ul><ul><li>Long Term Outlook </li></ul>
  7. 7. Personality <ul><li>Attitude </li></ul><ul><li>Appearance </li></ul><ul><li>Confidence </li></ul><ul><li>Approachability </li></ul><ul><li>Professionalism </li></ul>
  8. 8. Attitude <ul><li>Always be honest </li></ul><ul><li>Enthusiasm & Passion. </li></ul><ul><li>Expressing your passion = interest. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t be nervous – you already have a good chance since your in the interview! </li></ul>
  9. 9. Appearance <ul><li>Maintain positive body language </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Be on the lookout for certain gestures that communicate negative messages, such as poor eye contact, hurried nodding or crossing your arms. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Posture and body language, and manners are still at the top of the list. </li></ul><ul><li>Differentiate yourself from others, find a way to make an immediate impact (this does not mean wear a crazy tie) </li></ul><ul><li>Social network clean-up (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace etc…). </li></ul><ul><li>“ Go Search Yourself” Google yourself and see what employers will find, trust me they are doing the same thing. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Appearance <ul><li>Basic presentation issues: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>no heavy cologne/perfume/powder odor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>no ornate jewelry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>no chewing gum/mints/cough drop </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>turn off (not to vibrate) your cell phone </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>don’t bring water bottle to interview </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>have a professional email (nothing like [email_address] ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bring a notebook/portfolio & pen </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Image is a paramount consideration for any interview. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>no visible piercing along with the usual; clean hair cut (do), clean teeth, fresh breath, nails, nose </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Confidence <ul><li>Be a listener and engage in a two-way conversation </li></ul><ul><li>Eye contact </li></ul><ul><li>Sit up straight, lean slightly forward with hands on table </li></ul><ul><li>Firm handshake, if you miss the shake, ok to say “hey, let’s try that again” </li></ul><ul><li>Never take a defensive stance on a question (honest answers) </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t complain about workloads, hours worked, your boss etc… </li></ul><ul><li>Do not speak negatively about anyone. </li></ul><ul><li>DO NOT compare yourself to other people, be your own person. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Approachability <ul><li>Smile for 5 seconds when you enter a room & say “nice to meet you” </li></ul><ul><li>Make eye contact for two extra seconds when being introduced (and saying goodbye) to someone new. One-one-thousand…two-one-thousand… </li></ul><ul><li>Develop an unforgettable answer to a few common questions. </li></ul><ul><li>Sit with toes pointed AT the speaker (away signifies resistance) </li></ul><ul><li>Discover the CPI, or Common Point of Interest, between you and any new friend as soon as possible. Ask creative, unique, interesting, thought-provoking and challenging questions like, “Can you describe the best day you had at work last year?” </li></ul><ul><li>Keep your hands away from your nose or mouth while talking, it is a display of dishonesty. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Professionalism <ul><li>Arrive 15 minutes early </li></ul><ul><li>Make sure you understand the employer’s next step in the hiring process; know when and from whom you should expect to hear next. </li></ul><ul><li>Know what the next actions/steps are: and DO IT! </li></ul><ul><li>Back everything up by solid, detailed scenarios or experience. </li></ul><ul><li>Personal thank you’s and not just an email. </li></ul><ul><li>LinkedIn profiles need to match up with their current resume. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Experience <ul><li>Jobs </li></ul><ul><li>Initiative </li></ul><ul><li>Education </li></ul>
  15. 15. Story: Experience is in the Eye of the Beholder <ul><li>Several years ago, I was hiring a talent acquisition assistant and interviewed 20+ people but could not find the organizational skills and personality I was seeking.  I then interviewed a young lady, right out of school with a great personality.  She had me in the first 7 seconds (personality, confidence, solid handshake)!  Then we discussed her upcoming wedding and HOW she was planning for her nuptial bliss.  I invited her in for an interview and requested she bring her wedding planner (folder) that she poured months into!  It was phenomenal, I hired her and today she is a Human Resource Manager for a major global organization! </li></ul>
  16. 16. The Job <ul><li>Know the job role and be able to address how/why you fit the role. </li></ul><ul><li>Be honest about your skills </li></ul><ul><li>Communicate how your skills transfer into the job role </li></ul><ul><li>Have a prepared list of references from previous employers (co-op’s, internships, professors and managers) that will address your skills (e.g.  she is highly organized because ____) </li></ul><ul><li>Describe what you like most about previous positions and also be prepared to describe what you like least </li></ul><ul><li>Know your resume; you should never need to “refer” to it during the interview (you wrote it and did it, right?) </li></ul><ul><li>Be prepared to discuss your plan to achieve career goals. </li></ul><ul><li>Be realistic; many skills transfer, however I am a marketing major involved in Talent Acquisition –  I AM NOT AN ENGINEER, some skills will not transfer. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Initiative <ul><li>Interviews: always have tangible information prepared for the interview (portfolio, www.visualcv.com website print-outs with annotations highlights etc…) this WILL set you apart. </li></ul><ul><li>Ask for a business card and respect the card. </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss projects or work assignments where you identified issues and suggested a solution that was implemented. </li></ul><ul><li>Define what motivates you professionally and personally. </li></ul><ul><li>Definition of initiative is: an introductory act or step; leading action!  Take some initiative!! </li></ul>
  18. 18. Education <ul><li>Clearly show all education, continuous learning and training </li></ul><ul><li>Education, continuous learning and training should match your goals, highlight how they match your goals (even if your degree is not in line with your field, find a connection). </li></ul><ul><li>Address GPA concerns directly; explain low GPA’s and never shy away from the discussion.  </li></ul><ul><li>Bottom-line; be honest and address these concerns up front. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Relationship <ul><li>Knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Real World Experience </li></ul><ul><li>Business Acumen </li></ul>
  20. 20. Make a Connection <ul><li>I look for 3 keys items; </li></ul><ul><ul><li>knowledge (what do we know about each other) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>experiences (relating “real world&quot; experience to each other) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>business acumen (understanding the mutual business insights of each other). </li></ul></ul><ul><li>MKS Story: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Knowledge of our industry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Related her experiences to some of my personal experiences when I was in that role. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Her insight into business was clearly expressed.  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>She did her research on me & I was blown away by how much she knew about me professionally, our company and the position we were hiring.  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>She got the job! </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Knowledge <ul><li>Static Research : know what they do, company size, locations, a little about their operational methodology! </li></ul><ul><li>Dynamic Research : LinkedIn , Google , Facebook , Glassdoor.com </li></ul><ul><li>Know about the role for which they’re being interviewed: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>regular tasks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>typical goals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>key accountabilities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>expected deliverables (week 1, month 1, 6 months, 1 year) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Be able to demonstrate how you can perform these initiative and provide clear examples from your past.  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Past actions predict future behavior! </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Real World Experience <ul><li>Relate your professional experiences to the goals and objectives of the company.  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What can you do for them vs. what can they do for me! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Chances are the hiring manager has performed your role, the more you know about them, the better you can relate your experiences to some of their past experiences. </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss your career transitions and how you handled them; </li></ul><ul><ul><li>i.e.  When you left home for college is a great example. </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Business Acumen <ul><li>All employers want to know that you understand how business in general works: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Metrics driven resume = metrics driven employee </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>See the big picture, it is about the company not you </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Be able to talk to your interviewer about recent company results, products, projects, mergers, acquisitions and share performance.  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Be prepared to share an opinion on these items </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Answer questions with specifics and numbers (“Data entry made up 60% of my summer internship” or “I input 2500 client files into our database”) </li></ul>
  24. 24. Communication <ul><li>Written </li></ul><ul><li>Verbal </li></ul><ul><li>Body Language </li></ul><ul><li>Q&A </li></ul><ul><li>Ability to listen </li></ul>
  25. 25. Communication: First Impression <ul><li>Interviewers will judge your communication on more than just verbal (how well you translate your thoughts), they will also rank: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Written (your resume, application, paperwork etc…) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Body Language (what are you really thinking vs what you say) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Questions & Answers (how well thought out, relevancy to the interview – i.e. not canned) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ability to Listen (indicates how you will take direction) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Let’s pick these apart…. </li></ul>
  26. 26. Written <ul><li>All paperwork (resume, application, forms) must be well written, neat, clean and complete.  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Employers relate this to what type of employee you will be. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Writers are readers, how many blogs, books, articles have you read about interviewing? </li></ul><ul><li>Size matters; when you write something go back and try to make it shorter with the same or more impact </li></ul><ul><li>Read your resume / thank you notes out loud, make sure they flow and sound memorable. </li></ul>
  27. 27. Verbal <ul><li>Leave a lasting impression; make sure the interviewer knows what they need to about you. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t start your conversation with </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I was just going to say…” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I’m not sure if I’m right, but…” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I don’t know if…” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ This is probably a stupid question…” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Use self-disclosure openings as conversation starters, they ease communication apprehension. </li></ul><ul><li>Be ready to offer insight into you and appeal to the inherent helpful nature of other people. Examples include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This is my first interview (if it is) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>I am really excited to learn more about your company (this will open them up to state, “well what do you know”), then tell them! </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. Body Language <ul><li>Interviewing is like dating, be engaged in the conversation and the person! </li></ul><ul><li>Connect with the interviewer, they should feel as if you are an old friend and you’re catching up! </li></ul><ul><li>Research positive body language for interviews, a few tips include; </li></ul><ul><ul><li>smile when entering the room </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>firm handshake (if you miss simply state “hey, let’s try that again), this shows confidence. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>DO NOT fold your arms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>MEN:  Never, ever, ever CROSS YOUR LEGS. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>DO NOT put your elbows on the table </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>DO NOT clench your fist (indicates anger) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sit down after the interviewer </li></ul></ul>
  29. 29. Questions & Answers <ul><li>Always ask GOOD questions about the company AND the person(s) conducting the interview. </li></ul><ul><li>Start with an introduction, followed by a question like:  “What else can I tell you about myself?” </li></ul><ul><li>Ask questions throughout, be conversational, but precise. </li></ul><ul><li>End with a good question:  “Was there anything you were looking for that we haven’t discuss?” </li></ul>
  30. 30. Ability to Listen <ul><li>Don’t talk yourself out of a job, relax, be confident and professional. </li></ul><ul><li>Pay attention to verbal and non verbal cues. </li></ul><ul><li>Prepare responses to “standard” questions with 30 – 120 second responses that drive home a point.  </li></ul><ul><li>Repeat back key points from the interview and address them in your response. </li></ul><ul><li>Above all LISTEN!!! </li></ul>
  31. 31. Long Term Outlook <ul><li>Leadership </li></ul><ul><li>Goals </li></ul>
  32. 32. Leadership <ul><li>You must communicate to employers that you have the ability to lead in some capacity! </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss your involvement as a leader, no matter the roles (no role is too small); </li></ul><ul><ul><li>sorority/fraternity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>charities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>intramural sports </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>church activities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>clubs/organizations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>projects </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Leadership and management are two completely different things </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Leadership:  to go before or with to show the way, to conduct by holding and guiding, to influence or induce, to guide in direction, course, action, opinion, etc </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Management: The act, manner, or practice of supervision. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How do you influence outcomes that are in the best interest of employers? </li></ul>
  33. 33. Goals <ul><li>Discuss your short and long-term goals; be ready to explain your plan of achievement. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If your goal is management (common response), then discuss the steps you are taking; i.e. reading books (give title of book), taking classes, volunteering to manage projects etc… </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Clearly communicate your professional and personal goals </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Professional first; discuss your previous career path and key milestones. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discuss why you chose previous employers or positions that tied in to your professional road map. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Have a professional road map! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Achievements </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Discuss recent goals you have achieved and how you achieved. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t be shy, you are in an interview to sell yourself, but don’t be arrogant/blow hard! </li></ul></ul>
  34. 34. General <ul><li>Do’s </li></ul><ul><li>Don’ts </li></ul><ul><li>Always </li></ul>
  35. 35. Common Questions <ul><li>Tell me about yourself? </li></ul><ul><li>What is your greatest accomplishment? </li></ul><ul><li>What is your greatest strength? </li></ul><ul><li>What is your weakness? </li></ul><ul><li>How do you handle stress? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the toughest problem you have faced and how did you overcome? </li></ul><ul><li>Why do you want this position? </li></ul><ul><li>Why are you the best person for this job? </li></ul>
  36. 36. Any Last Questions? <ul><li>Often the interviewer's last question is, &quot;Do you have any questions for me?&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Not having questions indicates a lack of initiative. It also gives the impression that you have minimal interest in the position. </li></ul>
  37. 37. Prepare Your Questions <ul><li>Prepare your questions in advance. </li></ul><ul><li>Relate them to the company or its accomplishments/challenges (your research of the company will show and further impress the interviewer). </li></ul><ul><li>Don't ask any question that indicate a lack of research about the company. </li></ul>
  38. 38. Ask The Interviewer <ul><li>What do you enjoy most about working here? </li></ul><ul><li>Is there anything I've mentioned that makes you think I'm not the best candidate for this job? </li></ul><ul><li>When do you expect to make your final decision? </li></ul>
  39. 39. Phone Screen Tips <ul><li>N ever be caught unprepared.  </li></ul><ul><li>A lways prepare like it is an in person interview.  </li></ul><ul><li>I nterview in a quiet place with limited NO distractions!  </li></ul><ul><li>L and line.  </li></ul><ul><li>I nitiate request for in person interview and open the door for more information about yourself.  </li></ul><ul><li>T alk with confidence.  </li></ul>
  40. 40. <ul><li>Alex Putman </li></ul><ul><li>www.thesocialtrex.com </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter: </li></ul><ul><li>@ alexputman </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook Page: www. facebook.com/thesocialTrex </li></ul><ul><li>Go to blog and search “interview” for applicable articles on interview, questions employers ask and topics covered in more detail </li></ul>