The Art of Interviewing…

by Daniel Schrotter

Staff I.T., Inc.   the technology staffing specialists

______________________________________

Note to readers: In my last post, “Getting the Interview,” I mentioned I would elaborate on tips and tricks to having a good interview. I failed to do that, and I apologize if this misled anyone. I will elaborate on this topic in this post and I do hope that the information shared is useful to all who read it. Good luck to all of you.

As we stated in an earlier post, “Getting the Interview,” today’s job seekers and hopefuls are competing in a very Darwinian market. I call it “Darwinian” in reference to Darwin’s theory of evolution which operates on the basic premise that those organisms who are strong enough and adaptable enough will thrive while those weaker or unable to cope with change will eventually fade. This is also true in today’s job market. The applicants with the strongest qualifications and who are able to successfully migrate to another industry if need be are getting the best job offers. It is therefore vital to the successful job seeker to present the best cover letter/email, the best resume and then proceed to have the best interview.

I once had an interview at a direct lending institution that lasted four hours. I had instant chemistry with the branch manager, my resume had nothing to do with sales (I had been a chef) and that sparked his curiosity and most importantly I had a personality that outweighed all else.  Staying and chatting with the hiring manager about the job for a long time is good. Staying and chatting with the hiring manager about the job and about things of mutual interest is even better. However this is just an example.

In this post we will look at tips and tricks for having a successful telephone interview and for having a successful face to face interview with a hiring manager. 

 Telephone interviews are becoming more common. Telephone interviews are generally used by hiring managers to help identify various features of a candidate before committing to a face to face meeting. The reasons for the call can vary and it is always better to be prepared for a phone interview while you are active in your job search. Remember – a 2 minute conversation can lead to a job and it can also lead to rejection if not handled well! Here are some tips…

  • Voice clarity is KEY. Do not mumble. It is absolutely imperative that you speak clearly and enunciate your words. Also speak up! Having to strain to hear you will irritate the caller.
  • Always try and take the interview call on your land line at home instead of your cell phone. If you must use your mobile phone try to keep it plugged in and make sure you are in an area with a strong carrier signal. You might also use an in-ear microphone or Bluetooth device as this will enhance your ability to hear the caller.
  • Make sure that you are in a quiet area. Distractions like television, friends and family will stop you from hearing what the interviewer is asking you. The job is more important. Turn the tv off, shush family and if your friends are being tumultuous make them go away.
  • Do not take incoming calls on your home or mobile phone. It is unprofessional if you do this and is considered insulting.
  • Do not chew gum, eat any food or drink anything but water while interviewing over the telephone. Drinking soda might cause you to belch which will turn off the interviewer and drinking something hot might cause you to make an unfortunate noise.
  • Always allow the interviewer to speak without interrupting them. This shows that you do well with taking direction and you have telephone etiquette.
  • Have your resume handy and also write down a well thought out list of questions you wish to ask the interviewer.
  • Take your time in answering all questions asked by the interviewer.
  • Ask intelligent questions about the project or the role and show a lot of interest in what the company does. Show them how your experience can help them. Remember, they are more interested in what you can do for them.
  • Lastly, “close” the interviewer. Get information on when he or she will notify you to offer or not offer the position and ask what the next step will be.

HAVING THE FACE TO FACE INTERVIEW…

  • Dress formally for the interview. Your personal grooming and cleanliness should be impeccable. Yes, it is illegal to hire or deny work based on appearance – however showing up to a face to face meeting looking your best shows respect for them and for what they do. Also, looking your best will make you feel confident and confidence sells!
  • Arrive early for your interview. There is absolutely no excuse for being late to an interview. 10 to 15 minutes prior would be ideal. Any longer than that and it can be seen as an inconvenience to the interviewer.
  • Always carry a few copies of your resume with you, preferably printed on high quality water-marked paper. If you can, keep the resumes neat and protected within a folder or folded neatly in a business envelope.
  • Always greet your interviewer with a smile. Offer a firm handshake and make direct eye contact.
  • Have a personality. Be relaxed and pleasant. Keep your body relaxed with hands in lap and feet grounded.
  • Do not sit until you are asked to do so. Even then try to sit with the interviewer or a moment after they do. It sounds silly but it does indicate respect.
  • Sit up straight. This shows you are paying attention.
  • Listen well to be sure you understand your interviewer’s name and the correct pronunciation. Do not comment on what you think their heritage is based on their name. You will be wrong and this is the absolute wrong time for it.
  • Even when your interviewer gives their firstand last name address them formally or by their title (i.e. Mr., Ms., Dr.) and last name until specifically advised otherwise. Again, this shows respect.
  • When interviewing be sure to keep direct eye contact with your interviewer at all times.
  • Do not rush with your answers. Take your time in answering all questions asked by the interviewer. If you don’t understand the question ask for clarification politely.  “What do you mean?” is wrong. “Could you please elaborate on that? I don’t understand, thanks.” is correct.
  • Be honest and be yourself. If you are dishonest with your information you run the risk of disqualifying yourself from employment.
  • Exhibit a positive attitude. The interviewer could be a potential co-worker and you want to make yourself appear as someone nice to work with.
  • Do research on the company you interview for. This will impress the interviewer and show how interested you are in the company.
  • Make sure that you understand the employer’s next step in the hiring process so that you know what to expect.
  • When you are done with your interview, again offer a firm and dry handshake to the interviewer. Thank them for taking time to meet with you.
  • NEVER make negative statements about your previous employer or current employer. This is viewed as highly unprofessional and they cannot help but think what you will say about them if you are hired and then move on!
  • Do not chew gum waiting for or during an interview.
  • TURN OFF THE PHONE. No interviewer wants to hear you have a new Facebook post and if left on it is a statistical certainty that someone WILL call you at the very worst time. Mitigate this by just turning it off. You can live without Facebook for an hour.
  • Be very polite to everyone you meet – you never know who you will be working with… or for!
  • Lastly, write a Thank You letter on paper and mail it to your interviewer to ensure that he or she remembers you. I did this myself after a good interview and, when I returned to negotiate my contract with the hiring manager I spotted my envelope inside his folder. I asked him later if it had made a difference and he said that it certainly did.

I certainly hope that these tips on telephone interviewing and face to face interviewing will better help you with succeeding in your interviews! Good luck!

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