Before the Interview:
- Prepare a resume: The resume should be neatly typed and error free. It is a good idea to have 3-5 copies, so that if you meet more than one person you may have copies for everyone.
- Research the Company: Most often, your recruiter will supply company information for you. Always check the Internet for company history, track record and future plans. The client companies like to know that you are interested enough to do the homework.
- Arrive Early: We recommend ten minutes early. (If you are going to be late, call the interviewer and recruiter.)
- Relax: The interviewer wants you to be comfortable so they can get to know you. Skills are important but personality/chemistry is too. Talk candidly, but remember to use discretion. Say nothing that could be perceived as a controversial topic.
- Ask Questions: Most interviewers are encouraged when the candidate asks questions. Make sure that your questions are appropriate. Don't ask just to ask. It is not good to ask questions that have already been answered in earlier remarks. One question often recommended is "What skills do you think are necessary to be successful in this position?" Listen carefully to the response. We term the response to this question, "the recipe for success." Make mental notes of related skills or experiences that you have demonstrated in previous positions and share these when appropriate in the interview process. Make sure you pause in your answers so that if the interviewer wants to respond they can do so easily. Be careful that you do not sound as if you are reciting from a textbook when answering questions.
- Keep the Interview Positive: Never say anything negative about a current or previous employer. Negativity conveys disloyalty and does not impress anyone. It is much better to convey to the prospective employer that you are interested in investigating opportunities that arenít necessarily available in your current environment. Of course, if you are between employers simply express an interest in their organization as one that would allow you to utilize all of your experience.
- Salary: Try to avoid specific salary requests. When a recruiter is involved, often the client has already asked what you currently earn. Be sure you are consistent with what you indicate as salary history! If asked what you wish to earn, reiterate current earnings and suggest an offer be made. It doesn't hurt to say that you will want to consider the whole package, not just the annual salary.
- Interest: Show interest in the job. Don't be afraid to say "I can do the job you have described," or even be so bold as to ask for the job. Consider the interview a fact-finding mission with the goal being a job offer. Once you have the job offer, the decision is now yours.
After the Interview:
- Thank the Interviewer: This should be done verbally at the close of the interview and in writing after the interview. A quick note thanking the interviewer for their time and reaffirming your interest is always appreciated. Additionally, you should state your ability to do the job and your desire to receive an offer. Make sure it is error free, opportunities can be lost because of poor communications skills. The written "thank you", always seems to have a positive impact on the decision making process. If time is limited, expedite the process by e-mailing it to the interviewer or by faxing it to your recruiter and they can present it to the hiring authority.
How to Close the Interview:
If you are invited to interview at a company that you are interested in, you have the opportunity to make the job your own. Many candidates make the mistake of not capitalizing on an interviewer's interest level during the interview itself.
How to Capitalize on the Interview:
Pay attention. Listen to the interviewer and make mental notes of what appears to be the most important aspects of the job. As the interview winds down, the interviewer may typically ask "Do you have any questions about us?" Pause, and say something like "Just a recap, you need someone who can do . . ." [mention the things the interviewer stated earlier in the interview].
This statement should provide the interviewer with a thumbnail sketch of your perception of the job. Hopefully, as you are talking you will get the interviewer to begin to nod as verification that you have the right idea [Believe it or not, if you begin to nod they will most likely mimic you]. You are attempting to get a "buy-in" from the interviewer and perhaps also elicit the interviewer to comment, "Oh, by the way, the job also includes these additional duties," which allows you to understand even more about their expectations.
Now this is the part that makes some candidates squirm. Ask the interviewer a direct question, the type of question to ask is called a trial-close question [This type of question is used in everyday selling situations]. The following are a few questions which we have shared with candidates over the years.
- Do you believe that I can be successful in this position?
- Are you comfortable with my skills in this role?
- Do you feel that I can contribute to this team?
You'll notice that each question requires the interviewer to say "yes," "no," or "I'm not sure." If it's "yes," you know that you will be given strong consideration for the position.
If it's "no" or "I'm not sure," you have another chance to ask why, or at the minimum, get another opportunity to overcome objections to you as a candidate. If this is the case, at least you know where you stand before you leave the interview. Shake the interviewer's hand, and say "Thanks for the opportunity to interview with you; I'm sorry it hasn't worked out this time. Good luck with your search."
Being told directly "you're out" is not necessarily a "worst-case" situation and can even help you prepare for the next interview. We all get "Sorry Charlie" many times in our life, so don't allow a rejection to affect your job search. Some interviewers may say "yes" to you directly, but think "no" in their own minds, and that's out of your control. However, most people will be honest enough to at least give you some inkling about whether they are leaning toward you as a potential hire.
Feedback on these suggestions from candidates has been overwhelmingly favorable and these questions often lead to an offer or, at least, another round of interviewing.
There's no rule that says you must accept each and every job that is offered to you. If you receive a job offer and, after carefully reviewing all the pros and cons of the position, decide it is not the right fit, you'll need to take the next step of respectfully and professionally rejecting the offer. Many people make the mistake of neglecting this step and do not respond to the company or respond in a way that is too brief, too informal or simply unprofessional. If you want to move on from an offer and a company with your good reputation intact, there are a few steps you should follow.
- Don't Leave Them Hanging - Once you have weighed all your options and feel confident that the job you have been offered is not right for you, it is best to respond promptly. The company might have someone who is next in line for the offer, or might need to restart the candidate search, something that takes time and resources. Responding promptly shows that you respect the company and its needs and are aware of the fact that it has a position to fill. And, while it might be tempting to see exactly what you can get, don't waste the company's time in lengthy negotiations if you know that you will ultimately turn down the position.
- Tell Them in Person - Chances are there is at least one individual at the company you have developed a professional relationship with through the interview process. Inform that individual of your decision by telephone. This should be the person who signed your formal offer or personally invited you to join the team. This person most likely put in a good amount of time and effort to attempt to bring you on board and you owe it to him or her to provide a personal response. Before you call, write yourself a brief script to help you through what can be an uncomfortable conversation. Let the person know that you appreciate the offer and that you enjoyed getting to know the company and its employees. Explain that it was a difficult decision to make, but in the end you simply felt the position was not the right fit. Don't feel like you need to provide all the details of your decision-making process, and be prepared to be pressed for more information. The general rule of thumb is to be professional, but keep your answers vague. You do not need to explain all of the factors that brought you to this decision
- Follow Up in Writing. Once you have spoken to the company representative in person, your work is not done. You should also convey in writing your decision to reject the job. Write a formal letter to the individual who offered you the job to briefly and politely reject the offer, even if you have already spoken to the individual in person. Again, you do not need to go into detail. Just make sure your letter is professional, polite and gracious.
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