In some of my previous roles working in the business world I have performed numerous interviews. I see people ace these interviews and I see people painfully struggle through them. Sometimes a bit of advice from the person across the table can help. So here I am giving some brief and unsolicited interview advice.
First of all, not all companies, or hiring managers are created equal. Every company has unique values they are looking for in a new employee. The one thing most (if not all) companies look for is the “right fit.” So, you may ask, what is the “right fit?”
The first and most important thing to do is research. Do a Google search, check LinkedIn, find others who work for or know about the company. Understanding the company you are applying to is essential. Once you understand the working environment, you can better prepare for your interview.
Next step is to dress appropriately. The interview process is like going on your first date. You want to put your best foot forward. Even if you think you will be a little over-dressed, wear proper business attire.
I once had a lady show up for a customer service interview wearing a low-cut leopard print dress with huge red bauble earrings and long red painted finger nails. If you are looking to NOT get hired, you can follow her lead. Otherwise I suggest neutral colors, conservative business attire and professional hair and nails. These are people you are trying to impress. If you take the attitude that they will need to like you for who you are, you take a huge risk in not making the first cut.
Once you have passed the visual inspection, it is now time to get down to business. Many companies today look for a cultural fit rather than knowledge and experience. Their attitude is hire for fit and train the rest. Not that having necessary skills won’t help, but keep mind that with all the skills you have, if you don’t fit the companies culture you likely won’t get hired.
The questions you will be asked will vary depending on the attribute the company is looking for. Do you have good organization skills, can you admit when you’ve made a mistake, can you comfortably lead a team? These are all qualities companies look for. They will want examples.
For example, you may be asked how you handle daily distractions and still meet deadlines. How do you answer? What are they looking for?
What a company wants to know is specifics. Do you keep lists, use a calendar, or a daily planner to keep track of your tasks and deadlines? How do you use them? Can you give an example when this type of time management saved your butt?
Another question may surround a time where you had to admit to a mistake? We all make them. Don’t tell them you’ve never made one. Think of a time when you had change something you did or explain a mistake. Show how you took ownership for it and made it right. What did you learn?
See where we’re going with this?
Often times people are unprepared for these types of questions. But answer them you must if you want to make it to round two. And, yes, there is usually a round two where the questions get even harder.
Typically, the people doing the interview have been through so many they are ready to vomit. You need to make yourself stand out from the crowd, but in a good way. Stay away from jokes, be pleasant, pay attention, smile and make eye contact.
Once you’ve been through the interview don’t forget to send a thank you note shortly after. It may not make a huge difference in whether you get the job or not, but it can’t hurt and many interviewers appreciate it.
Do you have any specific questions regarding interviews? I have over fifteen years in business management and have done countless interviews. I’d be happy to answer any specific questions you may have.