Interview Preperation Guide

You must sell what you are capable of doing to an employer. This is best accomplished by giving examples of accomplishments you have done previously for companies that are relevant to the position you are interviewing for. The basic theme of any interviewing process is that behavior tends to repeat itself. Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. Whatever the interviewer finds, a pattern of the past will be assumed to repeat in the future. Like it or not, your past accomplishments are the manifestations of your corporate worth.

Tips for a successful phone screen

The most important thing to remember is that you are working towards obtaining a personal, face-to-face meeting with a prospective employer. If you can create the proper first impression on the telephone your chances of being invited for a personal visit are greatly enhanced.

Here are some tips you should keep in mind.

  1. Be enthusiastic and assertive.
    Remember that you don't have the benefits of expression and eye contact to show your excitement and interest. Be ready to provide specific examples of projects and accomplishments which showcase your skills. Avoid: speaking too fast, having music or other noises in the background, chewing or smoking, speaking to close to the receiver - anything that can create an unpleasant image of yourself.
  2. Do not ask questions that appear to be selfishly motivated.
    This is the most common mistake people make on phone interviews - you should not even bring up the subjects of money and benefits. Your only goal at this point should be selling the company on your skills and experience - talking about money prematurely can only have negative effects.
  3. Why are you leaving your present position? (have a positive reason for this move)
  4. What are your strong/weak points?
  5. What were your biggest accomplishments in your last position?
  6. What contributions can you make to our company?
    The best way of answering this last question is to do research on the company you will be interviewing with: check out the company's web site, do your homework, find out what they are doing and be prepared to point out how you can help them achieve their goals.

As a parting comment let the potential employer know that you are very interested in the position and why. The enthusiasm you display could be the deciding factor between you and another candidate. Good luck, and please call us immediately after the phone interview to discuss a follow-up strategy.


  1. You must approach the entire interview process with a positive attitude. Your objective should always be to get an offer. You can neither decline nor accept an offer you do not get. Uncertainty during the interview process invariably produces bad results.
  2. Before you get there, know what you can do for the company. Learn everything you can about the company from every available information source. It is critical that you use the Internet to find out if they have a web site. We have noticed that companies that have these sites have a very strong expectation that they will be used.
  3. Remember that the interviewer’s interest in you is purely selfish. It is no different than your selfish interest in the company. They want to hire the person who can do the most for them. All attention should be focused on what the company wants with your agenda temporarily taking a backseat. If you focus your attention on yourself, you will get in trouble in a hurry. When you have created a strong desire in the company to hire you, you can lay out the things you want; and if they are within the realm of reason, have an excellent chance of achieving them.
  4. Never bring up the subject of benefits, salary, and vacation policy or bonuses until the interviewer brings them up.
  5. It is in your self-interest to delay money discussions until the end of the interview process. Hopefully by the end, a stro
    ng desire to hire you will exist, and you will have a lot more information. From your perspective, these are ideal conditions to discuss money. If the interviewer asks salary expectations early in the interview, you should respond, “I want the best offer you can make based upon my education and experience.” If after this statement the interviewer still persists, try a somewhat vague response like, “I think we are in the same ballpark,” or “I was thinking of something higher.” Avoid under selling yourself but realize that excessive salary demands are one of the main causes of offers not being extended. Many people feel they should start high then negotiate. At best, this is an extremely risky strategy in today’s sophisticated environment. Most of the clients are very limited as to what they will negotiate unless they are in a very unusual situation. Rarely will you be forced to nail down exact asking price. In this case, I believe in adding a little cushion and stating, “I would like $”. The word like implies some flexibility.
  6. The people you interview with must like you to get hired. Basic human relations skills and proper packaging of you are absolutely critical. Next to no one, regardless of qualifications, gets hired who is not liked. Many less qualified people get hired because they are liked. Best interview skills often win over best qualifications. The following is strongly suggested:
  7. To each of us our name is our identity. It is very important to remember the interviewers’ names and to use them. Some things to make it easier are:
  8. Always try to answer questions and make statements in a direct and concise manner. Failure to do so will get you “tuned out” very quickly. Avoid answering questions with only “Yes” or “No”. Give explanations whenever possible. State things about yourself that relate to the situation. Do not brag.
  9. Make sure you understand the question before answering. Answering the wrong question is a real “turn off”. It gives the impression you were not paying attention, which is insulting. If necessary ask to have the question repeated or clarified.
  10. During the interview, you should concentrate on only two things: Making the interviewers like you and gathering as much information as possible. Being liked gets you an offer. Information gathering helps you assess the interview when you get back home. Trying to process information during the interview causes mistakes. The best strategy is to try your best to be in a position to get an offer. It can always be turned down; or upon reflection, you may be withdrawn from consideration.
  11. Very seldom is it possible to get all the information you want during the interview. Once an offer is extended, you can easily get any reasonable information you request
  12. Preparing questions lists are important:
  13. Never lie or be dishonest. Many catastrophic things can occur if you do this, especially if you get the job. Exaggerating is lying.
  14. Do not get drawn into even a low-key argument, if a statement you have made is challenged, quietly stick to your position. If possible, hedge with statements like “In the environment I have been in, this is how it was handled. If there are better ways to do it, I would be very interested in learning them.” Even if the interviewer disagrees, you are exhibiting reasonableness and flexibility. Remember, the interviewer may be testing you by playing the devil’s advocate. If you argue, you cannot win even if you are right.
  15. As early as possible in the interview, you need to ascertain what the company and the interviewer is looking for. This will help you calibrate throughout the interview. One approach to accomplish this is to say, “The headhunter gave me enough information to get me excited but I still have a fuzzy picture of your needs. Could you describe the position and what kind of problems need to be solved?” Put this way, it is very difficult for the interviewer to duck your question. If a phone interview has taken place, the question needs to be repackaged to get the information you lack.
  16. If by the end of the interview you are interested in the position, ask for the job. This does not commit you to anything. It will positively effect compensation. It may be the difference between getting an offer or a rejection letter.
  17. As soon as possible after the interview, write or E-mail a brief thank you note to everyone you interviewed with. If you asked for business cards, this should be no problem. A format I like that would be sent to your prospective new boss is as follows:
  18. For thank you notes to the other members of the interview team, I like the following format:
  19. Avoid having bad breath.

  20. If you are asked to fill out an employment application observe the following:
  21. If you have high seniority with your present employer, or have been recently divorced or have been terminated or are being squeezed out or are a first time job changer, you need to know that despite being calm on the outside there is a strong possibility you are in great turmoil at a deep down emotional level. This will usually, if unchecked, lead to self-destructive behavior in the interview. Making a career move is as unsettling and scary an experience as there is. Most people that have not moved a lot have, at the subconscious level, deep concerns about being able to please a new boss and fit into a new organization. They fear the other guy will not recognize their worth. After all, how can the other guy know in an hour or two? These feelings are seldom consciously acknowledged. Instead these subconscious feelings manifest themselves during the interview in destructive behaviors, such as measuring out loud everything against your current employer, forcing information at the interviewer or dwelling on oneself. These same people will often upon getting an offer will rationalize every reason in the world not to take it. If you spend most of your time trying to make them like you and the rest of it using your perceptions to gather information, many potential problems will not occur. Save the judgements for when you get home.
  22. You should be prepared to answer all of the following questions:
  23. There are some very sophisticated behavioral interviewing techniques in use today. The idea is to examine your past behavior patterns in specific situations. Sometimes it only takes one situation to establish the pattern. Sometimes it takes several situations. The interviewer assumes that behavior repeats itself. A couple of examples:

Hopefully all of this information has been of help, it can not hurt you at all in the interiview. Good luck in the interview. Remember to call your recruiter right after the interivew. That recruiter wants to gather as much information as you can give him prior to his call to that employer. Remember, we are all working together as team in this process.

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