The interview is one method used by employers to select people. It may be the only time in the selection process when employer and candidate are face to face. There is a technique to successful interviewing.
A candidate who masters interviewing has an edge over others. This pamphlet will answer some questions you may have about interviewing. Our intention is to provide you with the tools to sharpen your interview skills and give you an advantage in today’s employment market.
- Be on time. Arrive 15 min. before the interview, dress professionally, and be well prepared.
- Before the interview, research about the company, its products, services, performance, vision, management, interviewers, and recent events.
- Prior to the interview, elaborate a list of additional information you need to know about the company, job, scope, future progression, management style, and strengths/weaknesses of those who held the position previously.
- Bring pertinent information to the interview (I.e. dates of employment, names of supervisors, telephone numbers, names and numbers for references). Incomplete applications are the most common disqualifiers.
- Practice the interview with someone prior to the actual event. Remember to put your “show-time” game face on. Be as eloquent and honest as you can be.
- Sell yourself loud and clear. To gain confidence, it is recommended you write “I am ….” at the top of a piece of paper and spend five minutes finishing the sentence with as many positive traits as you can think of.
Then, identify the ones you are most proud of and finish each statement with “I demonstrated my (positive attribute) when I …” Be well prepared and use these in the interview.
- The first minute of the interview is the most important, because it gives a lasting impression. Establish rapport, assertiveness, enthusiasm, and motivation. Nonverbal communication is most important – like eye contact and movement, sitting correctly, and hand movement.
- After rapport is established, ask if the interviewer can grant you 5 minutes of their time at the end of the interview to ask some questions you have prepared. Make sure you always ask what are the challenges of the position. That way you can always sell your accomplishments and skills as they pertain to the challenges.
- Relax! When asked questions, focus before answering and give specific answers and examples about your past activities and how you’ve handled particular situations. Focus on communicating your strengths not your weaknesses.
- Do not ramble or answer difficult questions unless you have clearly thought-out an appropriate focused answer. It is acceptable to ask for additional time (if needed) to answer a question. For example….”can I take a minute to think about this, I would like to give you a good specific example.” This shows assertiveness.
- Use action words like created, achieved and directed to imply action and make a stronger statement.
- Concentrate in the actual position you are interviewing for. Do not interview for any other positions or any future opportunities.
- Do not ask excessive questions during the interview. Instead prepare 3 to 5 relevant questions to be asked at the end of the interview.
- Call BIP immediately after the interview to provide feedback.
What Type of Questions to Expect
Q. Why are you searching for a job or why did you leave your last job?
A. Focus on motivation for professional development and attraction to a new company but not negatives of old company. Do not reveal money as a motivation to change jobs. Do not just mention career development as motivation, but explain what specifically career development means to you. Perhaps a culture fit wasn’t right for you or you were looking for the opportunity for promotion and felt it would be best to look elsewhere.
Q. How much do you want?
A. It is appropriate to comment that BIP (search firm) is representing you by handling all compensation issues and that they should have provided that information prior to the interview. If they insist, answer that you would like to concentrate on getting to know each other first, and then, if there is mutual interest, you’d consider a reasonable offer. It is not considered appropriate for employers to ask for desired compensation in an initial interview, as this creates an unlevel playing field.
Q. “Tell me about the worst boss you’ve ever had.”
A. Again, this is a question where you need to resist temptation to divulge dirt on your past experiences. Take the high road and don’t vent frustrations during the interview. Making a broad statement such as, “I’ve had all types of bosses, and some were much better than others at managing and communication,” should be enough of an answer.
Q. What can you tell me about yourself?
A. Focus on specific accomplishments on the job, no on irrelevant personal information. If you use descriptors of yourself, always use accomplishments and career progression to support and back-up your statements. This is where your prepared elevator speech (a 30 to 60 second pitch about yourself) can come in handy. A hiring manager wants to hear about your accomplishments and traits that make you a good fit for the position. Keep it concise but compelling – they won’t have time for your life story.
Q. “What are your weaknesses?”
A. Experts are mixed on the “correct” answer to this question—but most agree that the hiring manager doesn’t actually want you to share major weaknesses, especially those that are vital to the job at hand. Instead, take one weakness and put a positive spin on it, such as one you recognize that you have and discuss how you’re working to correct it. Oh, and don’t give a strength disguised as a weakness, such as “I am a perfectionist.”
Q. What are your strongest skills?
A. Focus on those skills you truly possess and give past specific job examples supporting this. You can answer by saying … “I consider myself a strong leader, possessing excellent communication, and problem solving skills. Let me give you an example… When I was working with x company …”
Q. “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
A. Show that you’ve thought about sticking around the company and possibly moving up in the organization. Discuss how your skills and traits can help you excel at the current position and benefit the company in the future. Don’t share anything too personal, such as plans to start a family or travel the world, which could take you out of the running for the job.
Q. “Give me an example of a time when you had to …”
A. This is where the accomplishment stories in your cover letter and resume can come in handy. The worst thing you can do when asked to give an example of something is to panic and fail to come up with one. Come prepared with several stories that you can share about past experiences to show that you are capable in a variety of situations.
Q. Why do you want to work for our company?
A. Focus on how you can make a difference not on what the company can do for you.
Q. “Why should I hire you?”
A. To answer this question, you need to have a strong handle on your fit at the organization—which requires some research. Perhaps you see that the organization lacks a clear marketing strategy, something you have experience in creating and implementing. Depending on what you find and your unique selling points, answer confidently and show the hiring manager how you will benefit the organization if they hire you.
Questions to Ask Potential Employers
- When was company acquired or started under corporate structure?
- Is innovation a permanent strategy?
- Does your corporation require any individualized agreement prior or after hiring on confidentiality, patents ownership, non-compete, ethical, etc.?
Company or Subsidiary
- What is the mission / vision?
- What is the management style?
- What are the leaders recognized for?
- What fuels growth?
- Does the corporation have unique or specific manufacturing systems and or quality systems?
- What production equipment will be used in this site?
- How will this organization chart look like?
- What are the main challenges of this position?
- What are the training methods used most often?
- If I were to be hired and surpass expectations, what career path can I expect?
- What are the key metrics that this position will be measured on?
- What are the key attributes that you consider most important and non-negotiable for this position?
- What level of autonomy does this position have?
How to End the Interview
- Thank the interviewer for the opportunity.
- Reiterate your interest in the position.
- Communicate to the interviewer what you can do for them in the first 3 to 4 months. This is based on the information received earlier regarding the position’s challenges.
- End the interview by focusing on how your experience and skills parallel their needs.
- Show sincere interest and ask about the next step in the interviewing process.
- After the interview, write a short thank-you note and mail it to the potential employer.
About Barbachano International
Barbachano International (BIP) is the premier executive search and leadership advisory firm in the Americas (USA, Mexico, Latin America, & Canada) with a focus on diversity and multicultural target markets. Outplacement and Executive Coaching services are provided by our sister allied company Challenger Gray & Christmas. Since 1992, BIP and its affiliates have impacted the profitability of over 50% of Fortune 500 Companies. BIP has been recognized by Forbes as Americas’ Best Executive Search Firms and currently ranks #27 and #3 on the West Coast. Headquartered in San Diego, California with satellite offices in Florida and Mexico. As member-owners of NPAworldwide Recruitment Network, we are supported by partner offices in over 50 countries.