IMPORTANT POINTS RELATED TO JOB INTERVIEW
- Make your selling points clear.
If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, did it make a sound? More important, if you communicate your selling points during a job interview and the interviewer doesn’t get it, did you score? On this question, the answer is clear: No! So don’t bury your selling points in long-winded stories. Instead, tell the interviewer what your selling point is first, then give the example.
- Think positive.
No one likes a complainer, so don’t dwell on negative experiences during an interview. Even if the interviewer asks you point blank, “What courses have you liked least?” or “What did you like least about that previous job?” don’t answer the question. Or more specifically, don’t answer it as it’s been asked. Instead, say something like, “Well, actually I’ve found something about all of my classes that I’ve liked. For example, although I found [class] to be very tough, I liked the fact that [positive point about the class]” or “I liked [a previous job] quite a bit, although now I know that I really want to [new job].”
- Close on a positive note.
If a salesman came to you and demonstrated his product, then thanked you for your time and walked out the door, what did he do wrong? He didn’t ask you to buy it! If you get to the end of an interview and think you’d really like that job, ask for it! Tell the interviewer that you’d really, really like the job – that you were excited about it before the interview and are even more excited now, and that you’re convinced you’d like to work there. If there are two equally good candidates at the end of the search – you and someone else – the interviewer will think you’re more likely to accept the offer, and thus may be more inclined to make an offer to you.
Even better, take what you’ve learned about yourself from your MyPath career assessment and use it to explain why you think this is the job for you: “I’ve done some careful career self-assessment, and I know that I’m most interested in [one or two of your most important career interest themes], and – correct me if I’m wrong – it seems that this position would allow me to express those interests. I also know that I’m most motivated by [two or three of your most important motivators from your MyPath assessment], and I have the sense that if I do well, I could get those rewards in this position.
Finally, I know that my strongest abilities are [two or three of your strongest abilities from your MyPath assessment], and I see those as being the abilities you most need for this position.” If you follow this tip, you’ll be (a) asking for the job, (b) explaining why you think it’s a good match, (c) displaying your thoughtfulness and maturity, and (d) further disarming the tug-of-war dynamic that interviewers anticipate. You’ll be making the strongest possible “close” – and that’s worth a lot!
- Bring a copy of your resume to every interview.
Have a copy of your resume with you when you go to every interview. If the interviewer has misplaced his or her copy, you’ll save a lot of time (and embarrassment on the interviewer’s part) if you can just pull your extra copy out and hand it over.
- Don’t worry about sounding “canned”.
Some people are concerned that if they rehearse their answers, they’ll sound “canned” (or overly polished or glib) during the interview. Don’t worry. If you’re well prepared, you’ll sound smooth and articulate, not canned. And if you’re not so well prepared, the anxiety of the situation will eliminate any “canned” quality.
- Make the most of the “Tell me about yourself” question.
Many interviewers begin interviews with this question. So how should you respond? You can go into a story about where you were born, what your parents do, how many brothers and sisters and dogs and cats you have, and that’s okay. But would you rather have the interviewer writing down what kind of dog you have – or why the company should hire you?
Consider responding to this question with something like: “Well, obviously I could tell you about lots of things, and if I’m missing what you want, please let me know. But the three things I think are most important for you to know about me are [your selling points]. I can expand on those a little if you’d like.” Interviewers will always say, “Sure, go ahead.” Then you say, “Well, regarding the first point, [give your example]. And when I was working for [company], I [example of another selling point].” Etc. This strategy enables you to focus the first 10-15 minutes of the interview on all of your key selling points. The “Tell me about yourself” question is a golden opportunity. Don’t miss it!
- Speak the right body language.
Dress appropriately, make eye contact, give a firm handshake, have good posture, speak clearly, and don’t wear perfume or cologne! Sometimes interview locations are small rooms that may lack good air circulation. You want the interviewer paying attention to your job qualifications — not passing out because you’ve come in wearing Chanel No. 5 and the candidate before you was doused with Brut, and the two have mixed to form a poisonous gas that results in you not getting an offer!
- Be ready for “behavior-based” interviews”.
One of the most common interview styles today is to ask people to describe experiences they have had that demonstrate behaviors that the company thinks are important for a particular position. You might be asked to talk about a time when you made an unpopular decision, displayed a high level of persistence, or made a decision under time pressure and with limited information, for example.
Step 1 is to anticipate the behaviors this hiring manager is likely to be looking for. Step 2 is to identify at least one example of when you demonstrated each behavior. Step 3 is to prepare a story for each example. Many people recommend using SAR (Situation-Action-Result) as a model for the story. Step 4 is to practice telling the story. Also, make sure to review your resume before the interview with this kind of format in mind; this can help you to remember examples of behaviors you may not have anticipated in advance.
- Send thank-you notes.
Write a thank-you note after every interview. Type each note on paper or send them by email, depending on the interviewers’ preferences. Customize your notes by referring specifically to what you and the interviewer discussed; for example, “I was particularly excited about [or interested by, or glad to hear] what you said about …” Handwritten notes might be better if you’re thanking a personal contact for helping you in your job search, or if the company you’re interviewing with is based in Europe. Whatever method you choose, notes should be sent within 48 hours of the interview.
To write a good thank-you note, you’ll need to take time after each interview to jot down a few things about what the interviewer said. Also, write down what you could have done better in the interview, and make adjustments before you head off for your next interview.
- Don’t give up!
If you’ve had a bad interview for a job that you truly think would be a great fit for you (not just something you want badly), don’t give up! Write a note, send an email, or call the interviewer to let him or her know that you think you did a poor job of communicating why you think this job would be a good match. Reiterate what you have to offer the company, and say that you’d like an opportunity to contribute. Whether this strategy will get you a job offer depends on the company and on you. But one thing’s for sure: If you don’t try, your chances are exactly zero. We’ve seen this approach work on numerous occasions, and we encourage you to give it that last shot.