by Leslie Rothman
Interviewing, from the employer’s perspective, is an information gathering process that is used to make a decision about your suitability for a position. During this process, an interviewer is trying to determine three fundamental things about you.
- Can you do the work? (ability)
- Will you do the work? (motivation)
- Will having you on board be a positive experience (chemistry)
If there’s an interest in you as a potential hire, the interviewer will also begin “selling” the organization and position to you. From the candidate’s side, interviewing is – first and foremost – selling what you can offer to a prospective employer. Interviewers have various levels of experience and skill with interviewing, so you can’t always count on them to ask “good” questions. You’ll need to:
- Be ready to insert relevant examples of your experience and skills
- Demonstrate enthusiasm for the type of work the position requires
- Pay careful attention during the interview, looking for ways to “connect” to your audience
A candidate is also on an information gathering quest to determine if the match is a good one – that the type of work and the organization is a good fit. If it sounds like a lot to keep track of and focused on, it can be.
Here’s where preparation, practice and these ten tips can help make your interviews more successful.
Improve Your Interview IQ
The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior
Think about your past successes/achievements, so you can use them to showcase both your experience and abilities. Identify 2 accomplishments from your more recent or relevant jobs.
Know your strengths COLD
Most people have trouble talking about what they do really well. When asked about skills or strengths, they will often state only one or two and will give very cryptic, generic responses. Identifying what your core 5-6 talents are, describing them specifically and giving examples of situations where you’ve demonstrated them will set you apart. Write your strengths down and practice saying them out loud in front of a mirror. If you
don’t get asked about them, weave them into your responses to other questions.
Be ready for questions that get at your warts
You may get asked about your weaknesses or adverse situations you’ve faced in the past. Don’t stonewall these questions. Identify an example where you faced adversity and things didn’t work out the way you had hoped. Be prepared to talk about what you learned from that experience. Be ready to speak to a couple of weaknesses that you have. Speak to how you have worked on improving or compensating for these.
Be CANDID when answering questions
Presenting yourself as someone other than who you really are might get you the job, but both you and the employer run the risk of not getting what you need and being unhappy with the situation. This doesn’t mean that you have to “tell all” about yourself or volunteer information that may not be helpful to your candidacy, however when asked, be honest.
Think from the hiring manager’s position
What problems, opportunities, and challenges do the manager, department/organization face? How can you help with these? To do this successfully requires:
- As much research as possible prior to the interview
- Really listening as the interview progresses to uncover what the challenges and opportunities might be. For example, if several of the questions revolve around dealing with conflict, are there problems or opportunities to improve this department’s interaction with others around the company? At an appropriate time, ask about your observations. (See sample questions below.)
- Asking specific questions during the interview to better understand what the manager is dealing with. (See sample questions below.)
- Speaking to the skills, talents and experience you bring that will be most helpful in meeting the manager’s challenges.
Always pay full attention to the person who is interviewing you
Keep the interviewer’s attention, watch for non-verbal and verbal signals that he/she is “with” you (eye contact, nodding, etc.). Once you lose your audience, they aren’t hearing what you say.
- Your answers to questions need to be complete, but not long winded. You know yourself best. If you tend to be wordy, practice shorter responses. If you need to be drawn out, then practice giving more information than usual. Being nervous will often accentuate these tendencies.
- If you are getting prompts to expand your answers, you need to give more information. If you are getting cut off, or the interviewer looks like he/she is wandering off or getting restless, you need to be more concise.
The interview is a two-way information gathering process
You want to find out if this is a place and position that you will really enjoy and be successful in. To do this you’ll need to be clear about what’s most important to you in your work situation. Once you’re clear, develop a prioritized questions list (8-10) that will help you determine if the key elements of your desired work situation are present. Some questions may get answered during the course of the interview. Plan to ask at least 3-5 questions from your list, and a few more if there’s time.
Pay attention to the work environment
Look for the subtle things. Do people seem happy? Quiet? Lively? Stressed out? If not offered, ask if you can have a tour of the facility as well as the specific area where you would be working.
Put your best face forward to all
Everyone you meet during the interview process (receptionists, administrative assistants, co-workers, etc.) will form an impression of you. You want that impression to be positive. You never know who has the hiring manager’s ear.
If you want the job, SAY SO
Countless times candidates leave an interview without clearly indicating their interest level. This leaves the hiring manager guessing, and may put you below someone else who seems more excited about the opportunity. Successful interviewing requires both a marketing and investigative mindset. With good preparation, which includes packaging what you offer and practicing speaking about yourself, combined with concentrating to be fully present in the moment – you can dramatically improve your interviewing ability and ultimately your results!
Here are a few sample questions that you might ask in an interview:
- What do you enjoy most about working here? Least?
- What do you see as the major challenges that face the organization? This department? This position? What changes may result from these?
- What do you think are this department’s strengths and weaknesses?
- What kind of person does best in this job?
- How much _________ is involved in this job? (Ask about the specific skills/abilities that YOU want to be able to use at work – problem solving, writing, data analysis, innovation, etc.)
- During my interview(s) here, I’ve been asked several questions about ______ (e.g., conflict management, juggling multiple priorities, handling ambiguity). How is this an aspect of this department’s work?
“Ten Tips To Improve Your Interviewing IQ” is reprinted with permission by Jobsinme.com and is a copyrighted publication of Career & Work Directions, LLC and cannot be copied without express written permission of Career& Work Directions, LLC.