Posts filed under ‘Interviewing Tips’

Tips for Mastering the Job Interview:

By Jack Farrell

Interviewing is a key part of the hiring process. Here are a couple suggestions that come from direct feedback from hiring managers and from my own personal experience hiring folks for over 20 years. I hope these tips are useful as you prepare for your interview.

1. First impressions are paramount: look professional, jacket and tie for men, professional garb for women.

2. Greet with a firm handshake and a smile.

3. SMILE OFTEN….few other mannerisms will make a more lasting impression.

4. Maintain eye contact as much as possible.

5. Keep your energy up. If you have a long interview, be sure to ask for WATER and stay hydrated.

6. Know the product line as much as possible. Visit the web site, poke around. The more familiar you are with the product and company, the richer your questions will be. Plus, it’s a healthy signal that you are engaged and interested in what lies ahead.

7. Write a follow up Thank You note right after your meeting. It sounds corny, but it’s still impressive. The old fashioned letter is most memorable, but a follow-up email works too.

8. Make sure your resume tells a story. By that, I mean that ALL your past jobs should point toward the job you are interviewing for. Fact is each job you’ve had has given you new skills and facets that make you THE BEST applicant for the job in front of you. You should be comfortable telling that story in the interview. Hiring managers oftentimes want to know “how things fit together” from your past. This exercise helps you convince the hiring mgr of this fit.

9. Have a couple “success stories” at the ready to cite in the interview. These specific examples demonstrate your abilities – in marketing, in sales, in editorial, in management, in IT – and give the hiring manager a more vivid picture of your skills.

10. If you like what you hear in the interview – TELL THE MGR YOU WANT THE JOB. It might seem obvious, but doing this will distinguish you from 90% of other candidates.

11. Don’t feel that you have to discuss salary. When working with a recruiter, that’s the recruiter’s job. On any application you complete (online or hard copy), it’s recommended that you leave salary questions blank. This is confidential information. Applications are sometimes handled very cavalierly and salary information can become public knowledge quickly. Plus, salary is an issue between the hiring manager and the recruiter who represents YOU….you don’t need it documented in an application.

12. Be positive. Never run from one job to “this job.” Instead, have a cogent reason why leaving your current job for this one makes sense in your career progression and in “your story.”

13. Bring an extra copy of your resume with you…just in case.

Lastly, here’s an interesting article from The Ladders on The Seven Deadly Sins of Interviewing, read and heed!:

© 2007 John Hartnett & Jack Farrell

November 28, 2007 at 12:09 am 2 comments

The Strategy Behind the Post Interview Thank You Note

By John Hartnett

The job interview is over and you’re feeling good about your discussions, the company, the opportunity and the hiring manager’s apparent interest in you as a candidate. What’s the next step?

Most people recommend that you send a thank you note — often one that’s preferably handwritten — thanking each individual for taking the time to meet with you and to briefly reiterate your continued interest in the position, should that be the case. Putting myself in the shoes of the hiring manager, I think there is more a prospective candidate can do with a thank you note to differentiate themselves from those they are competing against.

My approach when interviewing with a hiring manager is to regard that individual as someone with a problem or a “pain” they’re looking to you to provide a solution for. So what are examples of pain points within the context of an open position? Perhaps it’s a need to hire someone to handle responsibilities that are either not being addressed due to the unfilled position or are being delegated to someone who is either too busy or not qualified. Could be a need to find someone who can get up to speed quickly, because there is little time or resources available for mentoring and training. Perhaps it’s a need to make process changes to increase productivity and reduce expenses. Maybe the need is revenue based — a sales rep already equipped with a Blackberry full of contacts to expand or create a new market.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know all the pain points coming in to an interview but it will matter to you and your chances of being hired if you’re unable to identify them during the course of the interview.

An insightful candidate will ask probing questions to get a strong sense of the pain points or needs the hiring manager hope to address with the new hire. What are some typical questions that will reveal what the manager needs to strengthen a department or team? “What are the biggest challenges you currently face in your department?” “Is this a newly created position or one that was recently vacated?” “What are the short and long term expectations for this department from the perspective of senior management?” “How would you categorize the relationship between departments that are dependent upon one another?” “Has the company invested in or kept pace with new technologies?”

These questions help to shape the course of the interview and to provide you an opportunity to deliver concrete examples from your work experience that are directly relevant to the needs of the hiring manager and the organization at large. Which brings us to the Thank You letter or letters — for my recommendation is to send two.

I have had good success in the past writing two thank you notes — the first — a same day or immediate next day email to those you met during the interview process: the HR contact, the hiring manager and anyone else you sat down with for an extended period of time. The email need not state anything more than your thanks to those you met for taking the time, that you are very interested in the position, etc., with a line included in the email to the hiring manager that indicates that a more formal note will follow to address what was discussed in the interview.

This follow up note, which is sent regular mail, should underscore your interest in securing the position and substantiated as best you can by “mapping” your skills and experience to both the requirements in the job spec –and most importantly –whatever specific needs or sources of pain came out of your discussions with the hiring manager. Put another way, your goal in the second thank you letter is to communicate directly how you will contribute to the organization within the context of the stated expectations and employer needs associated with the position your are interviewing for. Indirectly and perhaps more subtly, the letter should help persuade the hiring manager that you will make his or her life easier.

Whether the Thank You letter is handwritten or printed is entirely up to you — but as a former hiring manager, my feeling is that the message makes a bigger impact on a hiring decision than the format in which it’s conveyed.

© 2007 John Hartnett

November 28, 2007 at 12:09 am Leave a comment


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