Interviewing Tips

You must establish chemistry first thing in the interview. People hire people they like, and who are like them. Find areas of common interest early.

Before getting into the interview, qualify the hiring authority by asking, "What characteristics are you looking for in the candidate you want to hire?" Then, go through your own background and show them how you match up. Write down what they are looking for; you will refer to it later (see concerns' below).

Be prepared to ask a series of intelligent questions. Find out how they will measure success for the position, so you can determine their expectations. Find out how your experience and accomplishments show that you will meet or exceed those expectations. Ask where the position will take you in the company, so you know your career path. In the interview, if one of your questions has already been answered, say "You have already answered this, but I wanted to ask...". Often, you will be judged by the questions you ask; don't skip over any of them, or they won't know what you were thinking. Click here to review Interview Questions you can ask during an interview.

Be prepared to tell stories that explain how you work, what results you obtained, how those results changed your current company, who you have managed, how they responded to your style, and so on. Remember PAR when relating stories describing your experience. Provide a succinct summary to generate interest, which will be indicated by a follow-up question. Don't tell a story all at once; instead, present a concise, high impact description in three sentences, and save the detail for the discussion.

Problem: set up a real life situation you faced
Action: discuss the actions you decided to take
Result: show the positive, business results of your actions

In every interview, the hiring authority will have concerns. (If they don't, you should be concerned!) You must find out what their concerns are so that you can address them yourself. Before the interview ends, qualify the hiring authority by saying, "You told me you were looking for x, y, and z (which you wrote down earlier). It appears I match up well. Do you have any concerns that I can be successful in this position?" Listen carefully, and decide how to reply:

  • If the concern is not a real concern, then explain why it should not be a concern, and get agreement that it is no longer a concern.

  • If the concern is a real concern, then minimize it and stress your strengths and compensating factors.

  • If they insist that they do not have any concerns, then ask for the job by saying, "Ok, when can I start?" This doesn't mean you will accept an offer, but it could accelerate the process because you have made it clear that you want to work for them.

You must close for the next step before leaving the interview. The next step is to get agreement that you will go to the next step. If you cannot get agreement that you will go to the next step, then probe for more concerns. You must set the next step before leaving the interview.

What about money? Money should not come up in a first interview, but be prepared nonetheless. You should have decided already what is the minimum you will accept, and what will make you happy. Minimize the difference; it is your "reasonableness index". Make it easy to hire you!

You must follow up with a thank you letter. The Beneva Group prefers a handwritten note posted the day of the interview, before you return home. E-mail cannot compare to the goodwill of a handwritten Thank You letter.

Beware the Counter-offer - This is worth thinking about ahead of time. Read the 10 Reasons to Reject a Counteroffer.

A few other important points:

  • It is ok to have notes and to take notes during an interview.

  • Don't forget to express your interest in the position! Let there be no doubt about what you think.

  • Be prepared to have references and proof sources available for yourself. Take a copy of any diplomas, transcripts, awards, certificates, articles, and other documentation of accomplishments. Take copies of your publications so you can offer them before being asked.

Interview Preparation Questions

These are not our recommended questions, but they are commonly asked. Practice turning the open ended questions into opportunities to set yourself apart, and to learn more from the interviewer.  For instance, 'Tell me about yourself' could be answered with "I'm a talented individual looking for a competitive team to join," followed by question number 15 from below.

  • Tell me about yourself.

  • What are your long range and short range goals and objectives, when and why, did you establish these goals and how are you preparing yourself to achieve them?

  • What do you want to do with your life?

  • What are your long-range career objectives?

  • Why did you choose this major? this career?

  • How would you describe your ideal job?

  • Describe a situation in which you were successful.

  • What do you think it takes to be successful in this career? in a company like ours?

  • Tell me about some of your recent goals and what you did to achieve them.

  • Are you a team player?

  • What motivates you?

  • Why should I hire you?

  • What are your short-term goals?

  • How would you describe yourself?

  • How do you think a friend or professor who knows you well would describe you?

  • What do you see yourself doing five years from now?

  • Where do you want to be ten years from now?

  • Do you handle conflict well?

  • What qualifications do you have that make you think that you will be successful?

  • How do you determine or evaluate success?

  • What major problem have you had to deal with recently?

  • In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our company?

  • Do you handle pressure well?

  • How much training do you think you'll need to become a productive employee?

  • What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction? Why?

  • Describe your most rewarding college experience.

  • What qualities do you feel a successful manager should have?

  • What is your greatest strength?

  • What is a weakness you have?

  • What led you to choose your field or major study?

  • What college subjects did you like least? Why?

  • Why did you choose to attend your college?

  • How has your education prepared you for your career?

  • Do you have plans for continued study? An advanced degree?

  • Do you think that your grades are a good indication of your academic achievement?

  • What have you learned from participation in extra-curricular activities?

  • What were your favorite classes? Why?

  • Why is your GPA not higher?

  • How familiar are you with the community that we are located in?

  • Are you willing to travel? How much?

  • Why did you decide to seek a position with this company?

  • What do you know about our company?

  • Is money important to you?

  • Are you seeking employment in a company of a certain size? Why?

  • What criteria are you using to evaluate the company for which you hope to work?

  • Do you have a geographical preference? Why?

  • Will you relocate? Does relocation bother you?

  • What kind of salary are you looking for?

  • What major problem have you encountered and how did you deal with it?

  • What have you learned from your mistakes?

Potential Questions for Hiring Authority

  1. What, as a hiring authority, is your vision of this job and, in your mind, what are the key responsibilities? My recruiter has told me what he sees. What do you see?

  2. Can you share with me the structure of the department or division and how it fits into the total organization? (You must address your strengths and make them fit into what the employer is looking for.)

  3. Considering the people in your department or company, tell me what your most valued employees are like and what are the three to five things that you believe makes them the most successful.

  4. Explain to me what you perceive the corporate culture to be and what type of person best fits into the organization.

  5. As the hiring authority, specifically tell me about your management style and what traits best match with your personality to produce the most productive working environment.

  6. What are the three or four most significant problems or obstacles that your company faces and how do you plan to solve these issues? Growth? Financial stability?

  7. What are the three or four problems that your company faces that you are currently trying to solve?

  8. Is your company or department facing any disasters?

  9. What are the specific projects that I will be working on in the first month?

  10. In the first year, what are the three key contributions that you would expect from my performance?

  11. What makes you enjoy getting up each day and coming to work?

  12. In three to five years, where do you see my career going and what, specifically, could I do to get there?

  13. In terms of resources, what will I have available to work with (i.e. people, equipment, budget, etc.)?

  14. What are the three or four things that could cause a person to fail in your department?

  15. As the hiring manager, what do you like most about the individual who did this job before me and what three or four things made them most successful?

  16. In considering the new position, how do you plan to reorient the position for the future?

  17. After interviewing me, how do you see my background adding value to your company? This question does two things: It exposes misunderstandings, and the employer hears the affirmation of your positive qualities and "fit" with the company

  18. If I were to accept this job and come to work here, how do you see this job impacting my career? If the hiring authority asks this, go over the problems that you can solve!

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