Author: Samantha Duffy
Job interview. Two words that can make even the most confident candidate’s palms sweat. You had an impressive resume that landed you the interview, but looking good on paper is only half the battle. Now you must prove to an employer that you really are the best person for the job, not just a compiled list of glorified words on a document. So how do you guarantee yourself a successful interview? The answer: be prepared. Here is what you should know before you begin the interviewing process.
Criteria employers use when selecting a candidate
In 2004, Brenda Green’s book, “You’ve Got the Interview, Now What?” reported the results derived from surveying 25 Fortune 500 Companies. The results showed that 28% of these organizations base their hiring decision on qualification, 12% on experience, 16% on skill fit, and 32% said all these categories were factors in selecting a candidate.
So if employers are interested in qualified, experienced and skilled employees, which characteristics do they value most in their candidates? A survey conducted by NACE in 2014 analyzed what attributes employers want most in contenders:
76.6% – Written communication skills
73.1% – Analytical/ quantitative skills
72.0% – Strong work ethic
71.4% – Ability to work in a team
70.3% – Problem solving skills
68.6% – Verbal communication skills
Knowing what employers are looking for will help you prepare your answers. If you possess skills like these then play them up; show employers that you have the qualities they desire.
The 2014 NACE survey also reported that 74.1% of employers prefer candidates with relevant work experience. For first time job hunters, this often means internships, school projects, and volunteer work.
Types of Interviews
Photo Courtesy of: careerrocketeer.com
There are a few different interview formats that you will come across during your job search process.
Screenings- These are usually done by phone to weed out the candidate poll. You should have your resume at hand to refer to, pen and paper to take notes, a quiet room, and water to keep refreshed (no gum, smoking, or eating).
Behavioral- These are designed to determine if an applicant has the necessary traits for the job. You will hear a lot of “Tell me about a time when…” in this type of interview.
Panel- This where the candidate it interviewed by more than one person in the room at the same time, or one interviewer may be in the room at a time with a different set of questions.
Group- A panel of interviewers and multiple candidates in the room at the same time.
Video- Usually done via Skype, and often used for jobs that are far away. You need to make sure your microphone and camera are functioning properly, that your speech is clear and concise, and the room should be quiet with neutral decor.
Pressure- One of the most intense forms of interviews, where candidates are placed in stressful situations so that interviewers can gauge their reaction. You may be asked inappropriate questions or treated rudely, and their may be multiple interviewers present at once or sequential. The goal of these interviews is to see how a candidate will perform under pressure.
Final- This is your last opportunity to wow an interviewer and create a strong, lasting impression.
Questions to expect
Employers utilize all types of questions in order to figure out the type of person you are and what kind of worker you will be. Some organizations have a predetermined list of questions they ask in interviews, but others can create their own interview process and ask whatever they feel. Be aware that you may be asked a question you were not prepared for, but if you are able to answer a majority of these questions, you should be able to find the words to respond to the unexpected.
Why do you want to work for us?
What do you know about our organization?
If you were a candy bar, what type would you consider yourself and why?
Tell me about a time you made a mistake and learned from it.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
What are your salary requirements?
What are your strengths/weaknesses?
Know your stuff
You already know that your interviewer has researched you; they read your resume and cover letter, called your references, checked your background, and scanned your social media sites. So now it is your turn to become the cyber stalker. These are the things you need to know about a company before entering the dog house.
Contact information of the hiring manager
Process of applying
Recent news headlines & two questions to ask based off these results
The name of the CEO
Location of the headquarters
At least two products or services of the company
Top three competitors
Bonus: When you receive the call for an interview, make sure to ask who you will be interviewing with, that way you can take that information and search them on LinkedIN to get an idea of their background and who they are.
Make a good first impression
Photo Courtesy of : blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu
In the words of Marshall Matters, “You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime”. It may sound intense, but first impressions are everything when it comes to getting a job. There are too many candidates applying for employers to waste their time with second chances, so get it right the first time around by knowing what to do and what not to do.
Be prompt. To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late.
Eye contact. Look your interviewer in the eye, show that you are engaged in the conversation and that you are confident in your responses.
Communication. This is both verbal and nonverbal. Have good posture, speak clearly, put thought into your answers, be aware of facial expressions, and be mindful of your limbs (don’t cross your arms or spread your legs while seated)
Manners. Pretty obvious. Watch your language and express gratitude for their time and the opportunity.
Be direct. Answer the questions directly, do not beat around the bush, and try not to go off on a tangent. Avoid long, drawn out answers to questions; interviewers do not need every minute detail or your entire life story, give them the basics and the need-to-know information.
Have an objective. This is your answer to the question “Why do you want to work for this company?”. You should be able to tell your interviewer what you want to help the company accomplish, as well as personal goals you hope to achieve.
Attire. Dress appropriately for the interview. Jeans are casual, not professional. Your clothes should fit properly on your body, not like you went shopping at the Baby Gap or the Big & Tall store. Look clean and polished, and watch the overuse of perfumes or cologne. Last, cover any inappropriate tattoos and piercings (despite what you think, not everyone approves of body modifications).
A big factor of job interviews that interviewees need to be prepared for is discussing a salary. There are few rules of thumb to follow here:
1.) Never make the first move. Let them bring up the subject, and when they do, make sure to omit any personal stories or reasons as to why you are requesting a larger salary than they might be offering.
2.) Be Flexible. Know the market data (visit O*Net to find this information). If the salary doesn’t fit you needs be open to other alternatives such as; profit sharing, strong benefits, and other perks.
3.) Don’t overestimate your worth. Your degree is just the beginning, and fresh graduates should be looking at entry level positions. Use websites like Glassdoor and WetFeet to help you find market information about salaries and expectations for jobs you are applying for. Use this info to gauge their offer, but still know your worth and what it will take to make happy. You shouldn’t settle for less than your worth, but you should also know where that lies.
4.) Give it time. Some companies have to go through a process before accepting or presenting an offer. Be sure to give them space to figure everything out, and they will give you the time you need as well.
5.) Don’t express disappointment. If you get shot down for your request, don’t let it get you down too. Take this in stride and ask if their is a chance for you to increase your salary in the future.
Wrapping it up.
When the interview is coming to a close, interviewers will ask if you have any questions for them. NEVER SAY NO. This is where your research can come into play, or they can be legitimate questions that you have thought about. If you struggle to find the right things to ask, here are a few suggestions.
Why is the position now vacant?
What do you like most about working for this company?
What keeps you here?
What problems can I expect to encounter?
What new products/services does the company expect to add in the next year?
What is a typical day like at the office? Will I work mainly alone or with a team?
During your interview get the interviewer’s business card so that you have their contact information. You can hand write them a thank you card, or send them an email. You could also try a follow up phone call about a week after the interview, or you can ask at the interview when they expect to fill the position. Remember though that they are busy individuals with other interviews, so do not annoy them, they will contact you when necessary.
While you are waiting for a response, you can continue to go on other interviews and apply for jobs. Do not miss out on an opportunity elsewhere because you are waiting around for something you are not sure of. If you get the job and choose to take it, then you should no longer be pursuing other careers.
Now you have the tips you need to knock your interview out of the park, so start preparing. Not only can you use the information you learned here, but you can also try practicing and getting feedback from others too. The Career Center is hosting Mock Interview Day on Wednesday, April 8, 2015 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. You can sign up for a time slot and practice interviewing with real employers from the area. They give you feedback and advice on how to improve your interviewing skills. You can sign up for the event online by clicking here. Registration deadline is March 31st, so don’t wait!