I N T E R V I E W   T I P S

Preparation I Actual Interview I Closing I Saving an Interview

So you would like to get a job offer, relax. You can by using these proven techniques and suggestions about how to handle yourself during the interview. Remember an interviewer has just one objective: TO DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT TO MAKE YOU A JOB OFFER.

While the interviewer will examine your work history and educational background, your strengths and accomplishments will also be important criterion. He/she is also interested in evaluating your level of motivation, values, attitude and personality. In other words an assessment is needed to be done in order to find out if you are the right person for the job, what your potential for promotion is and whether or not you will "fit" into the company environment.

While it is true that an interview is an important screening tool for companies, it also allows you to learn those things that you need to know about the position and the company so that you are able to make an intelligent decision about the opportunity. It is a two way street – you are also interviewing the hiring manager! Your main focus, however, is to approach the interview with one objective in mind: To Get The Job Offer!

Preparation

The first key to success is PREPARATION. With a competitive job market, you are probably not the only qualified candidate responding to the search assignment. The deciding factor may simply be the way you present yourself, your skills and qualifications relevant to the position. Preparation will increase your confidence and ability to focus on the interview as well as enabling you to make a favorable impression. Information about the interview gives you an edge in preparation. Before the actual interview, it will be helpful to know what topics will be covered, objectives to be attained, and the basic information regarding the position to be discussed.


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Never Interview without First Researching the Company. Surfing the Internet will enable you to know the company’s products and services, markets, sales volumes, locations, and subsidiaries. Another option is to spend time in the library utilizing Standard and Poors, Dun and Bradstreet, Moody’s Reference Materials, trade magazines, or any other relevant source that will give you the much needed information.


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Prior planning requires you to inventory all responsibilities performed and to state how well you carried them out. Be prepared for tough questions. Anticipate what they will be. Two questions most likely to be addressed are your reasons for leaving current and past positions and your quality of performance in various situations. Write out your answers, refine and memorize them.


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Your Executive Recruiter has a list of potential questions to ask the interviewer so be sure to ask him/her for a copy of them. Their job is to prepare you to get the job!

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The Actual Interview

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Arrive no earlier than fifteen minutes and no later than five minutes prior to the interview. Allow adequate time for traffic, parking and a last minute appearance check. If possible, scout the location the day before to avoid any last minute problems. If asked, complete an application. Your Executive Recruiter’s name along with ALS Group should be the response to any "Referred By" questions. Have names and phone numbers of references with you so you can list them if requested.  Respond to "Expected Salary" questions as "Open" and "Current Salary" questions truthfully (see below for additional salary questions during the interview).


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Arrive professionally dressed. Men should wear a conservative suit, contrasting tie, and shoes shined with socks over calf. Women should wear a business suit or dress with coordinating jacket, neutral panty hose, basic pump shoes, minimal amount of make up, jewelry and perfume and lightly colored nail polish.


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There has never been a better first impression than to greet the interviewer with a firm handshake. Wait until you are offered a chair before sitting. Sit upright in your chair and look interested at all times. Body language speaks, so sit assertively. Be a good listener as well as a good talker. Maintain good eye contact with the prospective employer. Smile. Don’t smoke or chew gum (even if it is offered to you) and don’t drink coffee (so it can’t be spilled accidentally).


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Don’t lie or distort answers. Be as truthful as possible and make sure to get your points across in a factual, sincere manner. Never answer with a simple "yes" or "no". Explain whenever possible, but don’t "over-answer" them – try not to say any more than is necessary. Try to keep answers to 1 to 2 minutes.


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SOUND UPBEAT! Strive to project eagerness and interest. Be a conversationalist by being yourself.


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Never make derogatory remarks about your present or past employers.


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Statistics show that 75% of all positions filled are filled by candidates that are only 60% qualified because of the chemistry between the hiring authority and prospective employee. You must establish chemistry right away in the interview. People hire people they like and who are similar to them. Looking around the room to see if there are any common interests (photograph, book, or trinket) is a great ice-breaker. (Ex: That is an impressive marlin up on the wall there. I caught one almost as big in the Florida Keys last summer!)


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Be sure your Executive Recruiter gives you some background information on the hiring authority. As soon as the interview has started, you must qualify the hiring authority by asking, "What characteristics are you looking for in the candidate you want to hire?" Then, go through your own credentials and show why you match up. For example, "I can do the job you want done because I have done it before and have done it well by…………(follow the PAR guidelines below)".


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In each interview, you are expected to explain how you work, what results you obtained, how those results affected your current employer, who you have managed, how your subordinates responded to your style, etc. To keep your thoughts logical, clear and concise, remember the following acronym technique: PAR

Problem - State the problem

Action - Describe the action taken towards reaching the solution

Result - Emphasize the positive results obtained through your actions

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The question-answering rule says; Answer every question in terms of your background or qualifications or in terms of the search assignment to be filled. "Tell me about yourself" really means "Tell me about your qualifications". Personality questions try to determine if you have the qualities being sought, i.e. "What kind of manager are you?" or "Are you creative?" Motive questions attempt to show if you would really like the position or not, i.e. "Describe your ideal job" or "Would you prefer to work for a large or small company?" or "What did you like most/least about your last position?"


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Try to avoid the issue of salary, bonuses, benefits, vacations etc. if at all possible. Never state a starting figure when prompted for a desired salary. If pressed for an answer with regards to compensation state, "I am here for the challenge and opportunity. I am confident that if you feel I’m the best candidate for this position, you will extend me your best and fairest offer". Keep in mind that current income includes base salary, bonuses, commissions, benefits, stock options, company car or allowance, cell phone reimbursement, vacations, mortgage interest savings program, and any other perks you may have. Furthermore, if you are due a raise within 3 months, state the approximate percentage you expect. The best thing is to avoid this area and let your Executive Recruiter handle it. Many times, the hiring authority at some point during the interview process will volunteer information on this topic.


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Ask questions. The hiring authority likes to be interviewed too, just don’t cross-examine him/her. Always find out how they will measure success for the position (this way you can determine what their expectations are and whether you are experienced enough to meet and exceed those expectations). Don’t be afraid to ask where the position will take you in the corporation since this will give you an idea of what the career path will be like and it will show them you are interested in long term career objectives rather than a short term job to fill an immediate gap.


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Closing the Interview

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The final key to success is to CLOSE THE WINNING INTERVIEW. Keep in mind the first interview is a get-acquainted time. You are building a relationship and the employer is trying to determine how he feels about you. The second and third interviews are when you will get down to the "nitty-gritty". Even though it takes several interviews to get a decision, you are to start to close at the onset of the first meeting. Another objective of the first interview is to position yourself as a professional, not a buddy, in the mind of the hiring authority. He/she must view you as his number one candidate by the time the interview is over.


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The close of the interview is extremely important. Most interviews end somewhat like this, "We appreciate you coming by. We are looking at several people at this time and will be in touch with you in a few days". When this happens, it is time to ask yourself an important question: "Based on the information I have gathered during the questioning, is this the type of company and the type of opportunity I am looking for"? If all the pluses are there and you do want the job, you must go for it! Even if you are not 100% sure, you should still ask for the job! There is alot happening during the interview process. Later on when you have time to dissect the meeting and put all of your thoughts together in an orderly fashion and decide you would like to pursue the opportunity, you don’t want to look back and regret that you didn’t close.


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Remember close the interviewer just as you would if you were selling a service or product. By the way, you are selling the greatest product in the world, YOU!!


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In some instances, the hiring authority might have concerns. It is imperative you find out what their concerns are, if any, so you may address them right then and there. Before the interview ends, qualify the hiring authority by saying, "You mentioned you were looking for someone who can…….. (at this point name the most important points that he gave as the job characteristics, such as an extensive network of contacts and relationships, significant management experience, substantial profits made for your division and so on). I feel that I match what you are looking for. Do you have any concerns about my ability to be successful in this job position?" Listen carefully, and decide how to reply:

  1. If the concern is not a real concern, then explain why it should not be a concern and get agreement that it is no longer a concern.

  2. If the concern is a real concern, then try to minimize it and stress your strengths and compensating factors.

  3. If he/she insists that there is no concern, then ASK FOR THE JOB!

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Here is how to handle the close. Express thanks for the interviewer’s time and consideration of you. Tell him/her that you are impressed with the prospective hiring authority, the opportunity, and the organization. Let the interviewer know you will work hard to be successful. Look him/her straight in the eye and convey to him/her that you can do everything that has been defined in the job description (i.e. name the three or four most important points that he mentioned during the process, such as knowing the product or service, territory experience, having a portfolio and rolodex full of contacts on hand, fee income or revenue made for your current employer, and any specific accomplishments or achievements) and you want the job. All you need to say is "I want this job. When can I come to work for you?" Then be silent and wait for the hiring authority to speak. Although you may not get an offer on the spot, you can rest assured that every other candidate that is interviewing for the same opportunity will be compared and measured by you and you will stand head-and-shoulders above the rest because your determination will be unparalleled and remembered.

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How to Save a Job Interview

If you get the impression that the interview is not going well, don’t let your discouragement show. Once in awhile an interviewer who is genuinely interested in you may seem to discourage you in order to test your reaction. If you feel your chances of landing this opportunity are going down the tubes, don’t give up. It is possible to salvage a job interview that is not going well. See the following examples.

  1. Analyze what is going wrong – perhaps you are stressing the wrong skills to the interviewer. Try to change the focus of discussion. If the interviewer has missed your strongest points, work them in yourself. (Ex: By the way, I have a strong background in business development. Let me tell you what I have done….….)

  2. If the hiring authority seems rushed or preoccupied, offer to return when things have calmed down.

  3. Go back to a previous question that you may have fumbled and add more insight. (Ex: If you don’t mind, I have some more thoughts to add to my earlier answer to your question about……..)

To sum up, in order to get the job offer, present a professional image, ask questions, position yourself as number one and most importantly CLOSE!

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Don’t forget to contact your Executive Recruiter immediately after the interview. It is crucial to get feedback as soon as possible so we can keep the process moving along smoothly. The Executive Recruiter will help you get the job. Finally, it is equally important that you follow up by sending a thank you letter without delay because it shows a high degree of professionalism and once more puts your name in front of the hiring authority.

Please Note: TELEPHONE INTERVIEWS are handled slightly different because you don't have the face-to-face edge as you do in person. For those cases where a telephone interview is necessary, contact your Executive Recruiter for additional information and tips in dealing with this type of interview.

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