After months of searching for a new position you have finally been invited to come in for a face-to-face interview. What are you going to do to maximize your chances of getting an offer that will advance you toward your career goals.
First, decide whether or not the job would advance you toward your career success? Sometimes people interview just to see what’s in the job market. If you are not serious don’t waste everyone’s time. Besides, it could backfire if your present employer hears you are interviewing.
Remember that a job interview is a two-way process. It ought to be a time when two parties seek to gain a better understanding of each other and why it would make sense to get together.
Go into an interview with two objectives in mind. One is to gain a full understanding of the prospective employer and the position – both positives and negatives. The second goal is to get an offer.
Be prepared. This sounds too obvious to mention. But a surprisingly large number of people go waltzing into an interview unprepared, depending on luck and charm to carry the day.
Know as much as you can about the company, the position and the person who will be interviewing you.
Have a game plan. Determine the key points you want to make. Structure your presentation in terms of the needs and interests of the employer. Stress your achievements in a concise and orderly way. Many people flunk out because they are unable or unwilling to speak positively about their achievements. An interview is about career success; it’s not a time for false modesty.
No matter where the interviewer takes the discussion, return over and over to your major sales points.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Many times applicants fail to ask pertinent questions for fear of appearing to be too “pushy” or negative. To the contrary, your willingness to ask questions shows preparation, interest and a healthy state of self confidence. Such questions might include: May I read a job description? Why is the position open? Where would I fit in the overall organization? What are the opportunities to move forward on my career path?
Ask about salary after you see there is definite interest on both sides. However, don’t inquire about vacation time and other perks until an offer has been received.
Be prepared to answer tough questions, even if they come out of left field. What are your weak points and strong ones? Why do you want to change jobs? What do you think of your present employer, boss, co-workers? Have you ever been fired? Why? What is your present salary? What do you expect to be paid if you are offered the position?
Never show impatience or irritation. If the interview is going off track and you are losing interest, it is far better to bring the discussion to a graceful end, than to let these feelings show and leave a bad taste.
The importance of personal appearance cannot be overstressed. Know the environment and dress accordingly. Lean toward the conservative in dress. Sit up straight, even if the interviewer is slumped over like a wet noodle. Don’t fidget. Make and keep eye contact. Have a shine on your shoes.
Recognize the interview may begin in the reception area while you are waiting to be ushered in. Look and act like you mean business and expect to get what you want. Don’t kid around. Get a feel for the environment.
Make your best case. Avoid overselling. Show positive interest, but don’t appear to be overly anxious. Provide all the information requested, plus the points that you think are important. However, avoid giving answers that are too long and complicated.
Be very sensitive to the timing and pace of the interview. If you sense you have overstayed your time or that the interviewer has lost interest or reached a negative decision, take the initiative to bring the visit to a close. When you leave, express your appreciation for the opportunity to visit and then leave in an orderly fashion. Never, never hang on for one more run at selling yourself.
Always follow up the interview with a “thank you” note whether or not there is mutual interest. Never burn a bridge behind you.
These steps won’t guarantee an offer, but they surely will improve the odds for career success.
I wish you career success!
Ramon Grennwood, Head Career Coach
Common Sense At Work
P.S. For more career coaching such as this visit my website www.commonsenseatwork.com