You have received a call asking for an interview. The job is interesting and you are excited about meeting the hiring company. What can you do to prepare?
Interviewing is not rocket science, but nerves can get the better of us because most people don’t have a ton of experience with the interview process, at least those with reasonable tenure. Let’s review 5 things to start you off on the right foot.
• To prepare for the interview, review the company website to learn about their products, services and locations. Be informed about recent big events, such as acquisitions, new offices, new plants etc. While reviewing, determine if you can envision yourself at the company.
• Review the job ad listing some of the key aspects of the job and begin to correlate those duties/skills with your work history. If the position requires experience in xyz and you have that experience, ensure you expressly correlate your skills with what the company is needing. Tell the story of how you demonstrated the skill. Don’t assume they have studied your resume and can see the skills…..ensure you mention them at the appropriate times.
• Last, but not least, ensure you know the location of the interview and how to get there. Plan to arrive 10-15 minutes early and consider taking a trial run the night before. Plan for traffic and the unforeseen, but if you arrive too early, stay in your car. Arriving 10 minutes early is a positive; arriving 40 minutes early is not.
2. Project Confidence and Poise not Cockiness!
• You truly want to know and understand the highlights of the position and express where you have demonstrated a similar skill, but you do not want to come across as if you know it all. Listen and ask appropriate questions, but check your attitude if you are coming across as bored or having done all the duties and they are all no challenge at all.
• Ask questions as part of the interview, but don’t take over the interview with way too specific and detailed questions. You are trying to see if your skills and the position are a match, but the interviewer is leading the dance. Getting too far in the weeds on meaningless questions may take the interviewer off track and leave out important points.
3. How to handle the Compensation Question.
• Consider the salary range you would truly accept a position in. If asked during the interview, share the range. If not asked about salary, we normally recommend not mentioning in the first interview. The first interview is to see if there are any synergies between your skills and the position. The range should be no more than $10k (such as $70-80k) and truly reflect the salary you would be happy about. The range should make sense given your salary history.
4. Stay Positive!
• Regardless of the topic, do not say negative things about previous employers, bosses or co-workers. If you had a particularly difficult time at a past company, you can address the job change in a neutral light by mentioning that while you respected the company, the fit wasn’t very good. The company was enduring massive changes due to recent events and you felt you would be a better contributor elsewhere. As an interviewer, I can read between the lines and keep my opinion of the situation neutral unless you spend 20 minutes berating your old boss or company.
• At the end of the successful interview, leave on a positive note. Ensure you thank the person for their time, get their business card, ask if you may follow up and/or gain some understanding of where they are in the interviewing process. Express your interest in the position! If you are excited about the position, ensure you share your excitement about the position seeming like a fit with the skills you have acquired. Share you are excited about the opportunity etc. Ask if they have any concerns about your abilities they could share and perhaps you can address any issues or clarify points at that time.
5. Follow up!
• Based on your understanding of their timeline or after a week or so, follow up on the status of the position. The most un-intrusive way is by a well written email. Again, express interested in the position and the hopes you can speak with them again should they have further questions. Do not be a stalker by emailing and calling time after time. Also, remember hiring always takes longer than people expect. If they indicate they expect to bring back a few people for a second interview in a week, don’t email on day 7. Give it plenty of time. While we believe in follow up, once or twice is plenty. You don’t want to turn a positive into a negative.
By Renee Fulton, Talis Group, Inc. 6/13/17