Don’t freak out! Even if you haven’t interviewed for a job in years, there are plenty of things you can do to show a potential employer that you are THE best candidate for the job. While the application/hiring process has grown into a more technical event, the way employers interview executive-level candidates has not. Here are a few tips to help you nail the interview and get to the next step – being offered the job!
Get Your Ducks in a Row…
The HR Manager scheduled the interview, so you know the timeframe you’re working with to be fully prepared to knock their socks off at the interview. Keyword: prepared.
What are Your Ducks…
Map out your trip to the company and know how long it will take you to get there. If it should take you 20 minutes, allow yourself at least 30. Don’t forget about construction, trains, etc.-if you show up late, the interview will be over before it even started.
Spend some time researching the company. Know its product, customers, culture, mission, and financials. Being able to speak the company’s language is key in letting the hiring manager know that you really want to be their newest team member. Check out their social media presence as well. If they found you on LinkedIn, then they probably have a company profile set up on the site as well. View it, know it.
Plan your attire before the day of the interview. Do you need a suit? Or will a tie and dress pants suffice? Leave the dangely jewelry and smelly perfume/cologne at home. You don’t want to set of an asthma attack in the interview room, or even worse make them to have to fumigate the place when you leave-that just would not sit well.
Practice makes perfect….or at least may help! Review your resume and be able to speak in detail when talking about your career history. Research some common interview questions and be prepared to answer THE big question, “Why should we hire you for this position?” Be prepared to share concrete examples of business you’ve won, sales goals achieved, obstacles that have challenged you, and even things you’ve failed at and how you overcame those failures (just not too many of these…). Do you even know what your selling points are? Bottom line – know your strengths and weaknesses and be able to speak candidly about both during the interview.
Have your own list of questions for the interview committee, because you know you will be asked if you have any. Try to stick with questions related directly to job/company information and steer clear of asking about salary levels or benefits…save those for after they give you the job offer.
Supporting Documentation to Have on Hand…
Your Resume: Have enough copies of your resume ready to pass out to the people interviewing you. It is very common to have 4-5+ people interviewing you at the same time for a high-level position.
References/Recommendations: Have copies of your reference page and any letters of recommendations you have received. You may not be asked for them, but if you are-you will be ready.
Presentations: In today’s tech-savvy world, it would not be unheard of to have candidates using some type of media presentation to market their skills and expertise. At your level, financial achievements may speak louder than words, so including charts, graphs, etc. would paint a clear picture of the impact you’ve made during your career.
The Big Day is Finally Here…
Arrive for your interview 10-15 minutes early. Give yourself a quick pep talk in the car, check your teeth for spare remnants of your last meal, dry the sweat from your palms (baby powder works), and head into your interview. As an executive, you are expected to be calm, cool, and collected in any situation.
Greet the receptionist with a smile and be personable. First impressions are still important.
Smile when you are introduced to each person on the interview committee and remember, a firm handshake shows confidence.
Keep your hands on your lap or folded on a table to avoid tapping or appearing jittery. Make eye contact with the person asking you each question and try to look at the entire interview committee a little as you are answering a person’s question.
Preparing for your interview, bringing the right supporting documentation, and showing that you are confident in your abilities while speaking to individual members of the interview committee will help you to show them that they have picked the most qualified and deserving candidate for the job – YOU.
There is a growing trend in job interviews: Using a video conference format that allows an employer to interview candidates from many areas without the time or expense of travel. While you do save on travel time and expense, it still will take some time, and possibly some investment, to be prepared for an online interview. Prepare your equipment.
Is your microphone adequate or would a quality headset be better? The sound is going to be very important, both to hear your interviewer and for you to clearly be heard.
How is your camera placed? Generally, cameras above the monitor allow you to see your interviewer’s face while you are looking toward them, but a camera off to the side or below you will give the impression you aren’t paying attention, or worse, give them a look up your nostrils.
What is showing behind you? A chaotic pile of junk will not be a good backdrop, and light from a window, lamp, or adjacent room can cause glare.
Is your internet connection capable of the demands of a video conference? That’s a lot of bandwidth and data use, you don’t want to freeze, drop the call, or pixelate in the middle of impressing them.
It’s a good idea to set up everything and do a couple of test runs with a distant friend if you can. That friend can help you work out the bugs before the real call.
All the interviewing tips you read will apply to an online job interview. The only difference is in the technology being used.
Dress appropriately. It will make a difference in how you act even tholugh they can’t see your fluffy slippers.
Do your research and be ready to ask and answer questions.
Be ready about ten or fifteen minutes before it starts, and don’t forget any time zone differences!
Your ability to be as cutting edge as your potential employer is a good sign that you will be able to fit into the corporate team. Even if you don’t get this job, you will be ready for the next online interview request, and that is probably going to happen soon for an active job seeker!
The question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” is considered to not only be one of the most hated and laziest questions asked during an interview, but also the most common. Because you are certain to be asked this question at least once during your job search process, it’s a good idea to have an answer ready. Because it generally comes towards the end of the questions posed to candidates, it’s a good idea to anticipate it being asked and to be proactive about getting the information you need to answer it. During the interview there is generally give and take between you and the interviewer. Use this to your advantage by asking about projects that are currently being worked on, what types of projects you are likely to be immediately assigned to, and that sort of thing. You want to have enough fresh information to be able to give a good answer should this dreaded question be asked, and also to properly formulate questions later on when asked. There is no correct answer to this question, but there are several wrong answers. Answers where you seem arrogant or glib are to be avoided at all costs. You also want to avoid sounding as though you have no future plans and haven’t considered your role and impact on the company. When you are finally asked the question, talk about how the projects mentioned previously have been completed successfully, how you have moved on to other projects and expanded your role with the company. If there is continuing education involved, talk about how you anticipate it positively impacting your role within the company, completion of projects and your work with assigned teams. This makes you look thoughtful, like a team player and as an asset to the company. An important note is that when you tailor your answer to your impact on the company you are interviewing with, you save the interviewer the trouble of trying to picture how you would fit in with the company and what you would offer. This is a winning approach to an often dreaded question.
There is an old saying, “hum a few bars and fake it.”There are times, and interviews are often the case, where this is the best course of action. While you never want to come off as entitled or as though you are superior, faking confidence can often be the difference between an outstanding interview and one that is a dismal failure. A great resume will get you an interview. A great interview will get you the job. Who needs to fake confidence?
At times, just about everyone needs a boost. If you are unemployed and have been for a while, it can be depressing and sap your confidence. People who are shy or introverted can also use a bit of help in this area. It’s not hard to do, and if you do it enough you will become quite good at it. There are only three essential steps:
Smile – This will immediately signal your brain to make you happier and more confident
Prepare – Know as much as possible about the position and company before you go in for the interview. This preparation will help ease your anxiety
Believe – Believe that you are going to do well in the interview; the interviewer will like you and select you as the candidate to hire.
Just fake it. If all else fails, pretend that you have the confidence you need. The interviewer will not know the difference. Studies show that you will perform better in the interview and you will ultimately feel more relaxed by wearing a mask of confidence.
How to Make the Interviewer See You as the Best Applicant
One of the most important aspects of mock interviewing programs is often overlooked. That aspect, making the interviewer link you to the position you are applying for as the best candidate, needs to be honed. It’s not difficult and a couple of simple questions are usually enough to do the trick. What is important is that in answering them the interviewer is already imagining you as the person filling the position.
This is most simply done by asking a single straightforward question. When the interviewer asks you if you have any questions, you will ask the one question that has not been specifically answered. What current projects do you need my help in completing?
That simple question, tweaked to fit your specific industry, is normally enough to get the interviewer going on the latest project/team issue that needs to be addressed. You already know that there is something that needs your help or the company wouldn’t be hiring in the first place. The interviewer is likely to start talking about current projects that you would be a part of, what your role would be and what the company needs you to do. If the interviewer doesn’t mention what your specific role would be, that is the second question. Not only does this get the interviewer into a mental position where they see you actively participating in the job, but it also shows your ambition and initiative. This is also your cue to start brainstorming. The interviewer will probably start talking about key aspects of the project and you can start offering ideas and solutions. This will make you stand head and shoulders above the other applicants that simply sat there and listened, shook hands and waited to hear back from the company. The interviewer will remember you and, most importantly, remember you as someone with ideas and ready to get started immediately.
Job interviews are a tricky thing to master, if you don’t know what you are doing. You want to show off your skills and accomplishments as well as showing your personality, however, that can work against you if you don’t go about it the right way. You need to make sure that you don’t come off as entitled. Even if you feel that way. If you put off the attitude that you expect the job to be handed to you, you are not going to get the job and you will make a fool out of yourself. So how do you do it? How do you show off your accomplishments and skills without coming off that you feel entitled to the job? That is what I hope to help you with.
Be polite: The best thing you can do is use proper manners. Don’t interrupt and be polite and respectful. This will go a long way in your interview.
Make it about the employer: Don’t praise yourself. Instead praise the company and your potential employer and emphasize (don’t praise) your skills that could help you work well in the company.
Look like you care: It is simple enough, but people often forget this. You need to look like you care about the company, the job, and most importantly, the interviewer and their time. Dress professionally, sit up straight, and give eye contact. This will all show that you care more about them than yourself. Which is always a desirable trait employers will look for.
If you follow these simple guidelines you will avoid coming off as entitled. Have the right attitude and you will succeed in your interview.
Does the sound of ‘group interview’ make you cringe? Does it immediately bring to mind Will Smith in ‘Men in Black‘ and the weird egg shaped chair? Did you think, ‘Uh-uh. No way!’? I did too, until I did a little research on it.
Group interviews are held when multiple applicants are seeking a limited number of positions, which they interview for together. The interview typically involves a company presentation, group discussions, and role playing exercises. Usually if a company is conducting candidate group interviews, it’s because they have a large group of applicants and are looking for the simplest, most cost effective way to reject the majority of them.
While this is unlucky news for most applicants, it’s great news for you, the informed interviewee. Group interviews are the perfect opportunity to stand out and define yourself as a leader, and you should have plenty of time to prepare, since human resources almost always informs applicants of the group interview format beforehand. Follow these few tips to ensure a successful, stress free group interview experience. Before your Group Candidate Interview
• Get ready well in advance, and be a few minutes early. Dress nicely, as you would for a one on one interview. There may be individuals who show up to the interview dressed casually, but their sloppy appearance will only highlight your professional attire.
• Bring a light briefcase or portfolio with you resume, a writing tablet, and two working pens.
• Greet the other candidates warmly and genuinely, even though they are your competition. You will need a good rapport with the other applicants to really shine during the role playing exercises and other group activities, and, anyway, you never know who may end up your coworker or even superior. During Your Group Candidate Interview
• Expect the group interview to start with an introductory greeting from the human resources or hiring manager, who may be joined by other members of management. Do your best to remember their full names and faces.
• Be confident and try to stand out as a leader during group activities. You can expect to have to work in teams and speak in front of audiences, so do your best to overcome any social anxiety. Even if someone else takes the leadership role, still remain engaged and active. You cannot do the bare minimum and succeed.
• If you are able to lead, make sure you lead well. Involve all team members, even more reserved ones, criticize constructively, encourage and take into account feedback, and praise when praise is due. These are the qualities interviewers are looking to see in potential employees.
• Expect to be watched at all times and judged. While you can particularly expect to be evaluated during group exercises, where interviewers will drop in on each group as well as observe from around the room, you can also count on your casual conversations during breaks to be analyzed as well. Always stay professional and friendly. Typical Group Interview Activities
• Role playing: Group interviewers frequently plan this activity for candidates. Typically, the interviewer will give two or more people in the group a scene to act out, which is often related to workplace expectations.
• Presentations: Applicants, often working together in groups, are given a topic and a number of materials and are expected to create presentations. Sometimes candidates are given a hypothetical problem to resolve and create a presentation around.
Now that you know what to expect, doesn’t it feel a little less painful?
An interview is your opportunity to sell yourself. Regardless of how much you may look the part, you need to answer the questions correctly to get the job. Interviewers ask key questions and look for certain types of answers. Honesty is always the best policy, but remember that it is okay not to offer information that was not asked. Never bash your former employer.
It doesn’t matter if your last boss was the Wicked Witch of the Workforce, don’t say anything negative about your former employer. Instead of saying that you left your last job to get away from your boss that micromanages like it’s going out of style, say that you are looking for an employer that wants to utilize your talents and allow you to truly contribute to the company. Instead of saying what you hated about your last employer, focus on what you love about the employer that you are interviewing with. Avoid slang.
It doesn’t matter if everyone you know uses double negatives and slang, don’t use them in your interview responses. Always make sure that you look and sound very intelligent and articulate in an interview. You might be a college graduate from an ivy league school, but if you speak like you dropped out of grade school in your interview, there’s a good chance that you won’t be getting the job. An interview is the place to be as professional as possible. Always have questions.
Almost all interviews end with the interviewer asking you if you have any questions about the position or the company. Be certain to have some questions. However, avoid questions about pay, vacation time, hours, bonuses, and similar things that depend on you actually having the job. Instead, do some research on the company that you are interviewing with and ask a question about something that you read. This shows that you are interested about the company and have done some research. Never say you were fired.
When asked why you left your last place of employment, never under any circumstances should you say that you were fired, even if you were. You could say instead that you and your manager agreed that your last position may not have been the best fit. Do not lie about why you left, but avoid using the words fired, terminated, and let go in your explanation of why you are no longer with your previous company. Don’t lie.
It’s better to admit that there is something that you don’t know than to lie. If you find yourself put on the spot with a question that you don’t know how to answer, it is perfectly acceptable to ask for a moment or two to consider your answer. When you give the interviewer a well thought out response to the question that was posed, you can also make a point of emphasizing that you don’t make snap judgments and decisions, but instead prefer to think through how you are going to answer the situation. In many situations, this type of personality trait can be an asset.