While this column typically covers the ins and outs of good résumé writing, it seems pertinent to cover the second step of the job hunt process: The Interview. A job interview is like a blind date. What you do and/or say can make or break your chances of getting called back. As a Career Coach and former recruiter, I have some pointers that will help you turn your job interview into a job offer!
Prepare for the interview. Before you even walk into the office of the hiring manager, make sure you have 1)Researched the company thoroughly 2) Are dressed appropriately (shirt and tie for men,appropriate blouse and slacks or skirt for women). If the interview is for a very corporate position, suit up! 3) Have perfect copies of your résumé in a nice folder.
Arrive at an appropriate time. Be early, but no more than 10 to 15 minutes early. Plan your travel to give yourself plenty of time to find the location. In the event that you arrive too early, find a place to relax and review your résumé and notes, etc. You should not walk into the building before the appropriate time.
Open the interview. The first 3 to 5 minutes are critical. You must be confident, poised, and articulate. This is the time to put your best foot forward. Make sure your handshake is firm. Make eye contact and smile. Wait to be invited to sit. Present a perfect copy of your résumé to each person participating in the interview. You should also have a copy in front of yourself to jog your memory if you need it.
You should anticipate the questions the interviewer(s) may ask beforehand. Answer questions directly and concisely. Do not become long-winded. All of your answers should tell the interviewer something about what you can do for the company. Make sure your answers are relevant!!! You can find a list of possible questions by doing a Google search online.
Ask good questions. When the interviewer gives you the opportunity to ask questions, make sure you have one or two thoughtful questions to ask. Asking questions conveys your interest in the job and the company. You might ask the interviewer to describe a typical workday. You might ask why the interviewer likes to work for the company. Do not ask about compensation or benefits in the first interview. Those questions can be asked on a second interview or can be negotiated when an offer is on the table.
Ask the power question. The power question is this: “What would be your concerns with hiring me for this position?” This question does two things: It conveys to the interviewer that you are open to constructive criticism. And, it gives you the opportunity to address the interviewer’s concerns right away. If the interviewer mentions that you lack experience in any particular area, use that as a strength. Say something like, “I know I lack experience, but I’m highly trainable. I learn quickly. And, that really gives you the opportunity to groom me to be the employee that you desire.”
Close the sale! At the end of the interview, ask for the job!! Most people forget this vital step. Ask the interviewer when he or she is likely to make a hiring decision and then say something like, “After hearing more about this position and the company, I’m really thrilled about this opportunity, and I think I’d be a great asset to your team. I’d really love to come to work for you.”
The secret to interviewing well is really preparation. Find a friend who is willing to help you practice interviewing. Finally, be yourself. At the end of the day, it’s important to give the employer an idea of who you are and the amazing potential you bring to the table.