Short Interview Lessons Part 1
What’s an interview?
Interviewing is a 2 way process. Most of the people roll their eyes when they read this as they first think that the point of the interview is to get the job. Here I want to break out your illusion and make you clearly understand what is the interview and how to handle the successful outcome of the process. This is the final stage, but there is the whole process that goes into the interview before it actually happens.
The most common definition which describes the interview is “process in which the potential employee is evaluated by an employer for future employment in the company”. During this process the employer hopes to define whether or not the applicant is suitable for the job.
But before I say anything you have to remember that an interview is a two-way process. Mean that an interview also provides the employee opportunity to assess employer and see if the position is really something he/she wants. The average time a person spends at work is around 10.000 hours and if you spend that much time it is absolutely imperative that when you go for interview to ask the hiring manager all the question you have.
If you have been invited for the interview then you have a lot of homework. The first thing is beginning to research the company and the business. Once you have done with this you will be ready to prepare for the interview question, learn how to improve your interviewing skills and what you are going to wear on that day.
Make sure you use every available resource to help you with your preparation. By doing a basic google on the company you can easily learn important facts about the company. But do not forget to be armed with more certain information. Use sources like public libraries, bookstores , friends or friends of your friends and ect. Many magazines and journals can provide important and up to date information on your company and also give you an information about the competitors who are also applying for the same job won’t know.
Here is one true story :
“A candidate of mine was applying for a job at the one of the large investment banks. Out of 150 candidates the manager had selected the top 10 resumes to perform first round interviews. Every interview was 15-20 minutes long. The final question the hiring manager asked to each of the candidates was “Tell me something about the company?” Nine out of ten of the candidates rattled off information they had read from the company’s “about us page”, but one candidate stood out. After reading about the company’s strategic purchase of a new acquisition, the candidate was able to impress the hiring manager with his / somewhat different/ knowledge.
Later the hiring manager offered this candidate the role not because he was the smartest, but because he showed his dedication by doing the extra step in his interview preparation.”
Now when you have better understanding of the company you are applying for you can begin with the rest. I will try to give you an examples of the popular interview questions. I warn you that these are not all of the questions they might ask you, but the essence will be mentioned.
ICE BREAKING QUESTIONS:
When you first enter the interview the opening question is always designed to introduce yourself so you feel comfortable in the surroundings before the questions become more specific.
Those first responses can be so important in order to impact the rest of your interview. You are not going to get the job because you give correct answers, but you can lose the job opportunity because of the answers you give. Although the ice breaking question will be a general question about yourself and how your day is going, remember this is the hiring manager’s first impression of you. Stay in the work line, be polite and show your positive attitude.
Tell me a little about yourself…
Were there any problems finding our office today?
Have you visited our location before?
Are you enjoying this weather?
Why you have applied for this role? (Trickier ice breaker question)
The most important aspect of answering an ice breaking question is to build early rapport with the interviewer. As I mentioned you are not going to get the job just because you answer in a brilliant way, but answering the question the wrong way can give off the wrong first impression.
1. Keep the answer related to the question and be brief and polite. This is not a time to tell your life story.
2. Use proper English – using slang or lazy English can create an unprofessional or even careless impression.
3. If English is not your native language better be prepared. Before the interview find native speaker and spend a few hours in conversations, listen to video interview on you tube, make research for specific literature, terminology and etc. Anyway – always keep your level up otherwise you risk to fail only because of this.
CASE STUDY: HOW TO BLOW THE ICE BREAKING QUESTION
“A colleague of mine was interviewing candidates for a new position. As a polite introduction he would ask the candidate if they found the company building ok. Most of the candidates smiled and said yes to this question. One candidate told the interviewer how it took him a long time to find the building and how his bus was late. He rambled on for 2 minutes about the difficulty in finding the building. Before the interviewer had formally even begun he had already created a negative impression on the interviewer. He had lost the job before the interviewer had even begun.”
INTERVIEWER QUESTIONS :
Interviewer questions are typically divided into three main categories: Traditional interview questions, Behavioural questions (competency based interview) and Situational questions (hypothetical questions).
I will try to give you some definition about what are they meaning and how to become a master in answering all these types and be more confident than ever:
TRADITIONAL INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:
Best to prepare answers to these types of questions, but do not try to memorize exact answers word by word. It will sound scripted and will be easily picked up. What you need to do is have your answers planned, but be ready to adapt or change them depending on how well the interview is going.
I have selected a few most frequently asked questions and have given you examples of how best to answer these questions:
* Tell me about yourself…
Please, do not underestimate the answer of this question. Give a good solid first impression before the interviewer moves onto the more challenging questions. Be careful to not to give the interviewer your life story or provide too much information. Relevant facts about education and your career path is all you need to be speaking about.
Depending on what position you are applying for, for example for a role as a fashion editor for a magazine, tell the interviewer how from an early ages you have always had love for fashion and writing, and provide examples about how your passion has brought you here.
* Why did you decide to leave your last job?
Do not bad mouth your old employer. If there is something negative turn it to positive. First because is extremely unprofessional to talk badly about your previous employer and second because you do not know if this new hiring manager knows people from your old company.
How to answer if you were fired:
TIP: Do not try to lie about it or cover it up in the interview. More than likely the company will do a background check on you anyway, so be upfront and honest. I think you are not the first person to be fired. For example you can answer :
The job was going in a different direction to where I wanted to be going. My boss and I both thought it was best to move on to a job where I could be of greater value and offer my skills in the most maximizing way.
* Where else have you applied?
The right key is to prove the hiring manager that you are serious about finding a new job. This being said, you only want to mention a couple of places you’ve applied to rather than going into major details. The aim of this question is to see if you really looking for a new job. There is nothing wrong with showing the employer that you are serious to find a new role.
* What’s your biggest weakness?
Let’s skip the question “What is your biggest strength”, because I am pretty sure everyone can easily answer that question and speak about it for an hours. Let’s get focus on what’s your weakness.
Without doubt one of the hardest question to answer. Being too honest can severely affect your interview. Everyone has something they can work on, so saying you have no weaknesses makes you sound arrogant. The best way to approach this is to think of weakness that won’t to impact you getting the job.
If you are going for a job as a telemarketer, do not say your greatest weakness is speaking on the phone.
No clichéd responses – “My greatest weakness is that I am a perfectionist”.
According to specialists opinion you have to provide a real work-related weakness and follow it up with examples of how you are fixing the problem.
Here some examples: “I have been told that occasionally focus on details and miss the bigger picture, so I have been spending time laying out the complete project every day to see my overall progress”.
“My presentation skills are not as strong as I would like, so signed up for weekend presentation skills classes and also joined a master club.”
The specific job you are interviewing for will help you to determine how you answer the question.
* Where do you see yourself in five years time?
This type of question is seeing the extent of your ambition. Be careful when you answering this question not to make it seem as though this job is a stepping stone in your career.
For example, if you are applying for an accounting job at an accounting firm, do not tell the interviewer that long term goals is to work at an investment bank. This is not what the manager is going to want hear. The last thing employer wants to do is to employ you, train you and then see you leave the firm. The best answer you can offer is to demonstrate that 5 years goals are suitable and match the position you are applying for.
* Why should we hire you for this job?
The reason they should hire you is because you are the best person for the job because of your skills and competence and also because of the enthusiasm you will bring to the role. You can be assured that 90% of the candidates will start pitching their skills and achievements, but what makes you stand out is more enthusiasm and passion for the role. When describing yourself relate everything to the job role and give strong reasons why you should add value to the business. When pitching yourself, remember the importance of body language. Sit up in your chair and be positive.
Advice from the specialists: “Prepare for the interview by taking the job description and write down the skills you bring to each description and examples of accomplishments and achievements. Having examples ready to go can really help you when answering this question.”
Applying for a sale position : “With my 5 years of work experience I have developed, maintained and expanded customer relationships, positioned new products to drive sales growth and developed new marketing strategies to ensure sales targets are exceeded and market share increased. I have expertise in the implementation of account strategies, tactical sales and marketing plans. As you see my records speak for themselves, and in my previous role I was awarded for consistently exceeding sales and profit targets. Most importantly, I am extremely passionate about what I do and have a love for sales.”
* Do you work well under pressure?
Telling the employer that you crumble under pressure and burst into tears is not going to help you get the job. Although this is a closed question and can be answered with a one word answer.
* How do you handle change?
Change is natural part of life and it is about adapting to change makes you stronger person. Choosing to embrace change is an opportunity for personal growth. Try to provide an example of where you were able to handle change and come out stronger as a result.
* Briefly describe your ideal job?
“This is a catchy question.” Your ideal job would be earning a million dollars a week and only working 3-4 hours a day”. Perhaps your ideal job is playing very popular sport. Either way, neither of these answers is right. But at this moment all you have to do is to keep it in line with the characteristics of the job and company profile.
* What makes you want to work harder and want motivates you?
If we speak from our point of view and be honest with ourselves would naturally say – material rewards, higher salary, big bonus, etc. But keep them in your mind and focus more on being part of successful team, adding value to the organization and the satisfaction you derive from it.
On the question “What motivates you?”, should you mention money or not?
Typically saying the money or benefits motivates you is not the response a hiring manager is looking for. But as per always, the rules change depending on what industry you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for a sales role that offers high commission, being motivated to succeed and earn greater commission is definitely a motivation. Rather than just saying money motivates me (which is not advised), tell the interviewer that you are motivated to sell succeed and enjoy working in an environment where the more you put in, the more you can gain in return.
*Tell me about your salary expectations?
It goes without saying that everyone want to make as much as possible. That I recommend you is to researching the market value of the job.
The worst answer ever is a “desperate answer”.