"So many people out there have no idea what they want to do for a living, but they think that by going on job interviews they'll magically figure it out. If you're not sure, that message comes out loud and clear in the interview."
A job interview is your chance to show an employer what kind of employee he or she will get if you're hired. That is why it is essential to be well prepared for the job interview. Preparing means knowing about the industry, the employer, and yourself. It means paying attention to details like personal appearance, punctuality, and demeanor.
Let's start by going over the different types of interviews you might face.
Your first interview with a particular employer will often be the screening interview. This is usually an interview with someone in human resources. It may take place in person or on the telephone. He or she will have a copy of your CV in hand and will try to verify the information on it. The human resources representative will want to find out if you meet the minimum qualifications for the job and, if you do, you will be passed on to the next step.
The selection interview is the step in the process which makes people the most anxious. The employer knows you are qualified to do the job. While you may have the skills to perform the tasks that are required by the job in question, the employer needs to know if you have the personality necessary to "fit in." Someone who can't interact well with management and co-workers may disrupt the functioning of an entire department.
This ultimately can affect the company's bottom line. I feel that this can be determined within the first several minutes of the interview. However, more than one person being interviewed for a single opening may appear to fit in. Often, job candidates are invited back for several interviews with different people before a final decision is made.
In the group interview, several job candidates are questioned at once. Since any group naturally stratifies into leaders and followers, the interviewer can easily find out into which category each candidate falls. In addition to determining whether you are a leader or a follower, the interviewer can also learn whether you are a "team player." You should do nothing other than act naturally. Acting like a leader if you are not one may get you a job that is inappropriate for you.
In a panel interview, the candidate is interviewed by several people at once. Although it can be quite intimidating, you should try to remain calm. Try to establish rapport with each member of the panel. Make eye contact with each one as you answer his or her question.
The stress interview is not a very nice way to be introduced to the company that may end up being your future employer. It is, however, a technique employers sometimes use to weed out candidates who cannot handle adversity.
The interviewer may try to artificially introduce stress into the interview by asking questions so quickly that the candidate doesn't have time to answer each one. Another interviewer trying to introduce stress may respond to a candidate's answers with silence. The interviewer may also ask weird questions, not to determine what the job candidate answers, but how he or she answers.
When answering questions, speak slowly and clearly. Pause slightly before you answer a question. Your answers will seem less rehearsed and it will give you a chance to collect your thoughts. Keep in mind that a very brief pause may seem like an eternity to you. It's not.
Prepare answers to some basic questions. Use the list of attributes I had put together earlier. When he or she is finishing questioning you, the interviewer will probably ask if you have any questions. You should have some ready. As in every other aspect of the job search, you want to demonstrate how you can fill the employer's needs.
Ask about a typical day on the job or special projects you would be involved in. Also ask questions that will help you learn more about the employer and will let the interviewer know you are interested in working there. Use what you learned about the company through your research as a stepping off point. Don't ask about salary, benefits, or vacations, as those all imply "what will you, the employer, do for me?"
You've probably heard references to illegal interview questions. It's important to remember that the questions themselves aren't illegal, but using a job candidate's answers to make a hiring decision could be. For example, if an interviewer asks what your nationality is and then doesn't hire you because of your answer, the employer could be violating Section VII of the Civil Rights Act 1964. Employers shouldn't ask these types of questions, but it is up to you whether to answer them. Often, interviewers are not aware of the legal issues involved. Simply say that the answer to the question is unrelated to your ability to do the job.
The interviewer may ask you what your desired salary is, so prepare to answer this question. Find out what typical salaries are in your field. Always give a range, not an exact number. This will help keep you from pricing yourself out of a job. You don't want the employer to think they can't afford you, but you also don't want them to think you are a cheap commodity either.
Within 24 hours of going on a job interview, send a thank you note to follow up. This is your chance to reiterate something you mentioned on the interview or bring up something you forgot to mention. It is also a nice gesture and a simple matter of politeness.
Send a note to each person who took part in your interview. If you don't remember the name of each person, call the receptionist for some help. Type your note and keep it brief. Sending your note by email is fine as long as you've communicated with the employer that way before. Sending a thank you note sets you apart from everyone else who forgot to or chose not to do this.
Waiting to hear back from an employer after a job interview can be torturous. Generally, wait a week after your interview before you call. However, if the employer told you when you could expect to hear something, don't call until after that date.
Being a strong communicator and being comfortable in interviews is not enough when you are competing with other high-calibre candidates. It is important to know how to interpret questions correctly and structure your answers using effective communication frameworks. This is where interview coaching will give you the edge.
You could be up against other candidates who have utilised interview coaching services which will give them the advantage over those who have not. Having strong interview technique is a skill that will help you throughout your career so it's worth investing in now.
I offer coaching ranging from basic interview advice through to advanced methodologies suitable for experienced executives.
I offer two levels of service - Face to Face and Telephone Based. Each of these services are tailored to my customer's needs and provide a high level of quality. My aim is to coach you on various interview techniques then give you the opportunity to practice these techniques via a mock interview (either over the telephone or in person).