ISBN: 978-1-57023-256-5 (13-digit), 1-57023-256-3 (10-digit)
By Ron and Caryl Krannich, Ph.Ds
While the job interview is the single most important step in getting a job, few job seekers are prepared to ace the interview. Here’s the book that provides a wealth of tips and techniques for handling the job interview, from beginning to end.
The job interview is the single most important step to getting a job offer. Everything you have done thus far in your job search – conducting research, writing resumes and letters, submitting applications, and networking – should have prepared you for the job interview.
All too often candidates return from a job interview lamenting, “I can’t believe they asked me that!” They made numerous mistakes that could have been avoided had they simply prepared well for the interviews.
This book reveals 110 tips to help you quickly prepare for the job interview. Examining the whole interview process, the tips relate to:
- Interview strategies
- Different types of interviews
- Traditional and behavioral questions
- Questions you should ask
- Nonverbal communications
- Closing the interview
- Asking for the job
- Following up the interview
- Responding to a job offer
- Negotiating salary and benefits
This is not another question-and-answer interview book on how to provide clever answers to tricky interview questions, recite 30-second sound bites and pitches, or play the role of the perfect interviewee – behaviors that may make you sound coached, inauthentic, and suspect.
Instead, it focuses on what employers want from you as a candidate – understand who you are in terms of what you have done, can do, and will do for them in the future. They are most interested in your pattern of accomplishments.
In the end, you have a compelling story to tell prospective employers, which should include employer-centered examples, illustrations, descriptions, statistics, and comparisons that relate to your accomplishments. When you tell your story in this manner, you will most likely persuade employers to hire you.
The 110 interview tips revealed in this book will help you better prepare for the job interview. If you put our tips into practice, you’ll no longer join the ranks of surprised job seekers who return from a job interview lamenting, “I can’t believe they asked me that!”
Instead, confident of having made a good impression, you’ll probably leave the interview with the employer saying, “I can’t believe we found such a fine candidate. Let’s hire!” 192 pages. 6 x 9. 2007.
CLICK HERE TO READ AN EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Congratulations! Now What?
- Interview Mistakes Job Seekers Make
- What’s Your Interview IQ?
- I Hate Interviews!
- You Mean There’s More Than One?
- Actions Speak Louder Than Words
- Anticipate Questions and Tell Your Story
- Ask Thoughtful Questions
- Remember to Close and Follow Up
- Get the Offer, Then Talk Money to Power
Includes an Appendix: Questions You May Be Asked
While most candidates are primarily concerned with giving appropriate answers to anticipated interview questions, few actually prepare to ask questions of their own. Most have nothing to say, or they respond with this statement when the interviewer closes by asking Do you have any questions?:
“No, you seemed to have covered everything.”
Such a response does nothing to enhance the interviewee’s candidacy. Indeed, it indicates a possible lack of interest in the position and an eagerness to leave as soon as possible.
Employers increasingly report that it’s often the quality of a candidate’s questions – not answers – that was critical in making the final hiring decision.
In this chapter we outline a few tips on how you can best ask thoughtful questions that will both generate useful information for making your own decisions and impress the interviewer by indicating your interest in the position and your competence in doing the job.
Tip #82: Respond to sensitive questions with facts, a compelling story, and redirection questions.
There will be times during a job interview when you feel uneasy about certain questions or unsure if the answers you are giving are sufficient to satisfy the interviewer. At those moments, it’s a good idea to start asking questions that will (1) redirect the conversation or (2) bring greater clarity to the subject.
For example, if you are asked about a potential red flag in your background, such as frequently changing jobs (“Why have you had so many different unrelated jobs during the past seven years?”), try to redirect the question by making a central statement followed by a personal story and related questions:
- Make a statement that sets the stage for your “story”
“Seven years ago I was both clueless and careerless. Not knowing what I really wanted to do, I kept going from one dead-end job to another. I was unhappy with my life. I knew I had to do something else, but I didn’t know what it was nor how to change my life.”
- Tell a compelling story of self-transformation
“Three years ago I read about this new two-year cybersecurity certificate program at Delta Community College. It really caught my interest since I love computers and have always wanted to do investigative work, but not with a police department or a government agency.
I thought this may be the perfect combination for a career. So I enrolled in the program and discovered that indeed it was what I really wanted to do for a career. I initially enrolled as a part-time student because of my work schedule. I had difficulty getting evening courses since this was primarily a day-time program for full-time students.
After the first semester I knew it would take me a few years to complete the program as a part-time student. So I decided to quit my job and took several part-time jobs at night. I’m glad I made those job changes because they enabled me to complete the program within two years.”
- Ask questions to redirect the conversation around your goals and competencies and the employer’s hiring needs.
“Is there anything more you would like to know about this period in my life?”
“Would you like more information about those jobs, even though they don’t directly relate to my recent training and goals?”
“I would love to tell you more about how my cybersecurity training has prepared me for this job. Could I share some of my experiences with you on how I might be able to deal with a few of your major client issues? I have ideas that relate to a new security management software program that has attracted many new clients to other companies.”
If you feel uncomfortable answering a question, you might ask for clarification or redirect the conversation line by asking one of these questions:
“I’m not sure if that’s exactly what you are looking for. Is there something else I could share with you along these same lines?”
“That’s a brief summary. Would you like more details, or did I give you enough information on that issue?”
“I have lots of other good examples related to how I solved those problems. Would you like me to share another one with you, or was that one sufficient?”
Tip #83: Prepare a list of questions you need to ask.
In preparation for the job interview, you should outline questions you want to ask the prospective employer. You need to ask questions to elicit information about the position and organization; indeed, you want to know if the position is fit for you.
In addition, the interviewer will be making judgments about your interests, qualifications, personality, and competence based on the number and types of questions you ask.
What types of questions should you ask in order to get information and impress the interviewer? In general, questions relating to job duties, responsibilities, opportunities for training, and employee advancement within the company are appropriate. Avoid asking self-centered questions, especially any dealing with salary and benefits.
In addition to some of the questions suggested in Tip #67, you may want to ask the following questions. Again, do not consider this to be an exhaustive list, but use it to generate additional questions appropriate for your situation:
- What duties and responsibilities does the job entail?
- Where does this position fit into the organization?
- Is this a new position?
- What are you looking for in a successful candidate?
- When was the last person promoted?
- Is this position vacant now? Why? For how long?
- What is the best experience and background for this position?
- What expectations do you have for this position long-term?
- Whom would I report to? Tell me a little about these people.
- Are you happy with them? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
- What is the most difficult challenge the person will face in this position?
- May I talk with present and previous employees about this job and organization?
- What problems might I expect to encounter on this job? (efficiency, quality control, declining profits, internal politics, evaluation)
- What has been done recently in regards to … ?
- How did you get your job?
- How long have you been with this company?
- Tell me about promotions and advancement with this company.
- What are your expectations from the person hired for this job?
Having prepared a written list of questions, many interviewees wonder whether they should memorize them or write them down and take them to the interview. We suggest writing them on an index card and carrying the card in your suit pocket, attaché case, or purse.
Tip #84: Wait for an appropriate time to ask questions.
Let the interviewer start the interview and ask his questions. In the process of answering questions, you should ask a few questions to clarify points and redirect the line of questioning.
Keep these questions to a minimum since you don’t want to dominate the conversation with your questions and thus frustrate the interviewer, who may feel he can’t get a word in edgewise.
Once the interviewer has exhausted his list of questions, he’ll probably turn to you and ask if you have any questions. This will be your time to focus on several key questions. Use this time wisely.
Tip #85: When asked if you have any questions, refer to your prepared list.
If, as the interview progresses, you remember all the questions you wished to ask without reference to the card, that is excellent. On the other hand, you may find you simply can’t recall those questions – especially given the stress of the situation.
If that happens, mention to the interviewer that you have some questions you want to be sure you don’t forget to ask, and then refer to your index card. By formulating questions prior to the interview, you demonstrate concern about the position as well as preparation for the interview. Most interviewers will view you in a positive manner if you do this.
Tip #86: Focus on acquiring useful information about the organization, position, job, and people you’ll be working with.
Remember your primary goal at the job interview – to acquire useful information in order to make a well-informed decision about your career future. If you get distracted and become too hungry for the position, you may not ask the right questions for making a good decision.
Stay on message: every question should be designed to elicit useful information about the organization, position, job performance, and people you will be working with.
There is nothing worse than to accept a job and then learn within the first week that you probably made a bad decision, especially after learning you are working with a real jerk of a boss who has a track record for burning out new employees within three months! You’ll then ask yourself this belated question:
“Why didn’t I ask more questions about this organization, position, job, and the people I would be working with? I can’t believe I came into this job having asked so few questions about what I was getting into!”
Tip #87: Make your questions inclusive.
Try to be as inclusive as possible when asking and answering questions. Rather than talk about I, me, you, or the company, interject the notion that you have already been hired and are working with the individual by talking about we. For example, compare the following statements:
“What would I be expected to accomplish during the first six months?”
“What would be our goals during the first six months?”
“How would you solve that problem?”
“How would we solve that problem?”
By using such inclusive terminology, you subtly plant the idea that you are part of the team. In other words, you’ve been hired!
Tip #88: Focus on the employer and organization.
Make sure your questions primarily focus on the employer and organization rather than on your needs. Going beyond the more position-focused questions in Tip #83, you should ask broader questions about the company:
- Can you tell me more about the major challenges facing this company?
- Where do you see the company five years from now?
- How does this position fit into your future plans?
- Can you tell me about your experiences with this company? What do you especially enjoy about working here?
- What do other employees especially like about this company?
- Who do you see as your major competitors?
- Whom would you recommend as a good role model?
- What type of person do you see as the ideal for this position? What qualities and characteristics would this person have?
- Do you have an organizational chart that would give me a good idea as to how this position fits into the larger organization?
- How do you measure success and performance in this company?
- What is the one thing you feel the company needs to do in the next year to improve its performance?
When you ask such employer-centered questions, you impress upon the interviewer the following qualities:
- You are interested in the position.
- You are concerned about the company.
- You have an inquisitive mind.
- You can initiate a focused conversation.
- You take initiative and show leadership qualities.
- You confront issues in high-risk situations.
Tip #89: Show your attitude and enthusiasm.
When asking questions, try to communicate the same qualities we recommended for answering questions (Tip #3) – a positive attitude and a high level of enthusiasm and energy.
Employers want to hire individuals who exude such qualities. Avoid questions that suggest negative thinking, and always use positive form and content (Tips #76 and #78) when asking questions.
Tip #90: Avoid asking questions about compensation and benefits.
As we noted in Tip #81, you should avoid asking self-centered questions. None are more self-centered than salary and benefit questions.
Indeed, questions dealing with salary and benefits should be avoided during initial interviews or early stages of the interview unless they are raised first by the interviewer. Of course you are interested in salary, but you do not want to create the impression it is your primary concern.
Remember, the prospective employer is interested in what benefits you will bring to the organization. At the same time, you need to establish your value in the eyes of the employer prior to discussing money.
Tip #91: Be careful in asking too many questions at the first interview.
While it’s important to ask questions at the job interview, be judicious in limiting the number of questions you ask during the first interview. Ask just enough broad questions, such as those in Tip #88, to satisfy your curiosity about the organization.
Avoid becoming an irritating inquisitor who may appear to be more trouble that you are worth – you talk too much about sensitive matters. Always keep in mind that you have been invited to the job interview.
Let the interviewer dominate the stage. You can always ask other more detailed questions (Tip #83) in subsequent job interviews with this employer.