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.
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
Here are some
tips you should keep in mind.
- Be enthusiastic
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.
- 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.
- Why are you
leaving your present position? (have a positive reason for this move)
- What are your
- What were
your biggest accomplishments in your last position?
- 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.
TECHNIQUES & PREP GUIDE
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Never bring up the subject
of benefits, salary, and vacation policy or bonuses until the interviewer
brings them up.
- 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.
- 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:
- Never interrupt
the interviewer. If you do interrupt, you will have all the charm and
appeal of a leper. If the interviewer wants to talk, let him. Good listeners
are universally liked. If possible ask additional prompting questions
to keep the interviewer talking. You are getting potentially valuable
information while the interviewer gets none.
- Do not force information
on the interviewer. This is a major turn off. Know in advance the points,
experience, traits, and accomplishments in your background that you hope
to discuss. Look for natural feeling opportunities to bring them up. Remember
the interviewer, for many possible reasons, may want to handle the interview
differently than what you expect. If this happens, do not be disappointed.
If your human relations skills are good, you are in good shape.
- Have a list of well
thought out questions you plan to ask. The interviewer’s perception
of how sharp you are is heavily influenced by the questions you ask.
- Arrive early for
- Dress in the appropriate
manner. Over the past decade, customs regarding dress have changed dramatically.
What is proper dress varies widely from organization to organization.
The best approach is to ask the company official responsible for setting
up the interview what their recommendation would be regarding optimum
- Get a haircut, trim
beards and mustaches.
- Get on a first name
basis as quickly as possible.
- Smile! This really
- Use a firm handshake.
- Maintain eye contact.
- Sit up straight
and stay just a little tense. If you are totally relaxed, you may drift
into contradictory body language which is something people read intuitively.
- Never make negative
statements about former bosses, past companies, or your present company.
If absolutely necessary, speak in terms of “problems” versus
very specific damnation.
- Wait to be offered
a chair before sitting.
- Do not smoke or
- Do your homework.
It will show in many ways.
- Thank the interviewer
for his time.
- At every opportunity
express gratitude for past employers and bosses.
- Carry a folding
binder that holds a legal pad with you. It is a lot less cumbersome than
a brief case. It looks professional and gives you something in which to
carry cards, resumes, pens, etc. It can be very difficult to carry a brief
case around during a day of interviewing.
- It is strongly recommended
that you take some notes whether you need them or not.
- 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:
- Request that the
company provide a list of the interviewers’ names and titles in
advance of the interview.
- Ask the interviewer
for a business card. Then put the card in a side pocket of your binder
with most of the name showing.
- Write the name down
in your notes several times.
- Use the name in
the conversation as quickly as possible. If you are addressing someone
it is a good strategy to start any statement with his or her name. This
can be done repeatedly. Instead of being awkward, people very much enjoy
the repetitive use of their name in conversation.
- Pay attention to
the people that support the people you are interviewing with. Doing well
with them gives the impression you fit into the organization easily. Also,
in certain circumstances, they can provide a wealth of unfiltered information.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Preparing questions
lists are important:
- The questions you
ask, including the words you select to express them, will strongly influence
the interviewer’s assessment of you
- They prevent you
from overlooking needed information. After the interview, you can easily
determine the information you still need to get.
- Preparing the lists
will make you much more organized and efficient. The interviewers will
notice. Questions list preparation is strongly advised.
- The first list should
be carried in your binder. Make a list of all data you need to gather.
Out of that data you need to make up 10 – 15 of the best questions.
Be sure some are questions like “Why do you feel this position would
be attractive to someone like me?” or “What things make it
attractive to be an employee or your company?” or “What qualities
do you appreciate most in a member of your staff?” (often followed
by “What do you appreciate least?”).
- Having 10 –
15 questions is very important because most of the data you want will
be given to you in various ways throughout the interview.
- At one or several
points in the interview, the interviewers will ask if you have any other
questions. At this point a very shrewd thing to do is to pull out your
questions list, scan it and ask a couple of questions. This will make
it crystal clear to the interviewers that you took the interviewer seriously
and were prepared.
- You must know and
be prepared to discuss why you want to change employers including reasonably
detailed explanations for each past job change and your accomplishments
for every employer ideally expressed in dollar values. Interview processes
are usually characterized by suspicion on all sides. Both sides fear mistakes.
Not giving specific enough information about the above areas usually leads
to negative inferences on the interviewers’ part.
- In trying to work
up your accomplishments, focus on the problems you have dealt with, the
solutions to those problems, the results of the solutions and the value
of having the problems fixed preferably expressed in dollar values. The
more you are given credit for being able to do, the more you are worth.
- Never lie or be dishonest.
Many catastrophic things can occur if you do this, especially if you get the
job. Exaggerating is lying.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- The first sentence
thanks the receiver and his or her staff for their time and courtesy.
This is a basic courtesy.
- The second sentence
pays sincere compliment. Something along the lines “I was very impressed
with…” Remember, you want them to like you.
- The third sentence
says you feel you can do the job. You might say, “I feel I can meet
or exceed your expectations in the position we discussed.” The interviewer
wants someone who can do the job.
- The fourth sentence
tells your prospective supervisor that you are interested in the position.
It is often in your self-interest for the hiring manager to have tangible
evidence of your interest.
- The last sentence
hints at being anxious. “I hope to hear from you at your earliest
- This letter tells
your prospective boss everything he or she wants to be told, and yet tells
them nothing. You have not said you will accept an offer. No price has
been established. You have executed the last step in creating the desire
to hire you.
- For thank you notes to
the other members of the interview team, I like the following format:
- The first sentence
thanks the interviewer for his or her time and courtesy.
- The second sentence
says you enjoyed something specific about the interview. Again, good notes
help. An example would be, “I really enjoyed our discussion of…”
- The last sentence
says something like this, “I really hope we get the opportunity
to work together.” Again, taking notes is useful. The main feature
about this thank you note is its brevity.
- Avoid having bad breath.
- If you are asked to
fill out an employment application observe the following:
- If possible ask for
a second application or make a photocopy of it. Make your final application
copy as neat, accurate, and complete as possible.
- Complete all items
on the application except expected salary, which should be left blank.
If challenged as to why you left it blank say, “I have a salary
range I am looking in. I will not know where in my range this position
will fall until the end of the interview. I did not want to give you false
or misleading information.”
- On the education
section, include all education relevant to the prospective job including
seminars and other training. If possible, all of your education should
go on the application.
- Very completely
fill out the work history section including accomplishments and jobs to
finance your education. Do not try to substitute a resume for this section.
Only attach the resume if it includes information not on the application.
- Provide business
and personal references. You should have spoken to these people in advance
and know what they will say.
- Be neat and avoid
errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
- 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.
- You should be prepared
to answer all of the following questions:
- Why should I hire
- What training or
qualifications do you have for the job?
- Why do you want to
- How have you helped
the company’s bottom-line?
- What kind of experience
do you have for this job?
- Why are you successful?
- How many and what
type of people have you supervised?
- Have you ever hired
or fired anyone?
- 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:
- One example is “Have
you ever made a mistake at work?’ The answer better be yes since
anybody that tries to do anything makes mistakes. Next the interviewer
asks probing follow-up questions about the mistake. His real agenda is
to find out if this individual learns from mistakes.
- Another example is
“Tell me about a time when you were frustrated”. Follow-up
question is “What happened?” This one usually goes through
several instances to establish the pattern. The interviewer is looking
for the following data:
1.) Is this person a quitter?
2.) How aggressive is this person?
3.) How determined is this person?
4.) Did this person come up with creative solutions?
5.) What are this person’s human relations skills on the job?
- If you are asked
“tell me about a time”, philosophical; open ended or simulated
situation questions, consider yourself on thin ice. Take a moment or two
to think about the question, refocus all of your attention back on the
interviewer before you speak. Answer the question as directly and concisely
as possible. Do not try and give the finer details. If the interviewer
wants elaboration, he or she will ask. By having to ask he or she will
probably give clues as to the information really sought.
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
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