I’ve recently had the dubious pleasure of having to go to some interviews again, and noticed that I had not as yet posted anything under the heading of “Career”. Well, this is the ideal opportunity to do something along that vein. Interviews are one of the strangest events you’ll ever experience. However, as with all meetings, you’ll get most out of the meeting by preparing and knowing exactly what you want to gain from it. If you’re thinking, “Well that’s easy, I want to get the job offer”, then that is exactly where the problem lies.
Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
With the current economic recession and job scarcity, employers have the luxury of choosing from multiple applicants. But they don’t really, even though they have a much broader selection, employers still apply the same reasoning and employ one person per position based on their specific criteria. So, though it has become easier for employers to fill positions, your role is the same. And if you are prepared, your chances are still equally as good.
Recession is when a neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours.
What makes the interview such a unique interaction is that very few people know what they’re doing or want to accomplish. It is a process where a dual sale is in progress. For some reason, the company will rarely consider that they are as much trying to sell the job to prospective applicants as the employee is trying to sell his/her skills to the company. The process should ideally be seen as a negotiation where agreement is sought on multiple aspects. The desired outcome being to find a “fit” where both parties are satisfied that they have come to an equitable and mutually satisfactory arrangement. That agreement might very well be to agree that you part ways happily.
You should enter an employment interview with the goal of establishing whether this is really the job you want and with a company where you’d like to work. This will probably mean that you’d take over the interview process about halfway through and ask probing questions that will make the company representatives feel a little uncomfortable. This alone will set you apart from other interviewees. Try to put them at ease as soon as possible though by letting them know how they fared. If you’re still interested after the interview, tell them why and that you would consider a reasonable offer. If you feel that they do not measure up to your expectations after the interview though, tell them that you do not feel you would consider an offer from them and what type of company you would prefer working for.
Corporations hate to give away money.
Have you seriously considered whether you want a job at all though? Many people are not suited to the corporate world. What is preventing you from working independently? If you could do anything you wanted, where you wanted, what would that be? Perhaps you should first examine yourself and establish what you want. Don’t be fooled into believing that corporates offer more security. Any company would get rid of any employee the moment they think they can do without him/her. I have been through a retrenchment, and the apathy of people you considered friends at work when this happens is astounding – people will do things in the name of their company they would never consider in their personal capacity.
If you’ve decided that you do want a job (or perhaps just need it as a stepping stone towards establishing something else), you need to find suitable positions and apply for these. Isn’t it amazing how poor those ads are that we respond to? Companies spend as little time, effort and money on these as possible – after all, they assume that every prospective employee is so desperate that there is no need to do more. Either way, you’re probably now ready to send out your CV to some prospective employers. Your CV is your marketing tool to those employers. Read up on how to do it right, make it memorable and professional enough to get you the interview. I’m not going into the detail here, there is enough material out there to help you with this (Try this website as a start: Resume-Resource).
Everything has changed. An interview has become such a confrontational thing. It makes you very defensive.
What I’d like to discuss is the actual interview, which is your sales pitch. You have to close the deal during the interview, or you will never get that call back or the job offer. Although you have to prepare for a list of the most common questions asked (See this article - 50 Most Common Interview Questions), more and more people are reverting to more informal interviews. This is difficult to prepare for, and the best advice I can give is not to over prepare. Just like you are probably able to speak enthusiastically and intelligently about any topic you are passionate about, you will be able to do so about yourself too. This ensures that you will come across as being sincere, and the interviewer will be able to evaluate if you are likely to fit their corporate culture.
The real question here is whether you are passionate about a.)yourself and b.)the job. The best preparation is to convince yourself that you really are worth the salary that you’re seeking. If you are convinced of your own value, it will be easy to share this conviction. Prepare some ground breaking ideas you might be able to contribute, but also be careful to ask the interviewer what they would consider to be fulfilment of the job. Most companies are more resistant to change than you would believe, and would be frightened of ideas that are too progressive or would require re-inventing what they are doing, so keep your ideas within the scope of what they would require from you.
The most important skill in an interview is listening.
The most important skill in an interview is listening. Most mistakes come from not really listening to the questions asked. Only answer what is asked as clearly and concisely as possible. Get comfortable with silences and when you are done with answering the question, don’t get drawn into adding anything else just because the interviewer lets it hang in the air. It is a technique used by good interviewers to see if you might elaborate, add details you would prefer were not brought to light, etc. Let the interviewer fill the silence – if they want further details, they’ll ask.
As you enter the interview, make sure that the obvious things are taken care of as shown in the picture at the top of this page. Dress one-up to what you expect the interviewer will be wearing. Also visit their website before going to the interview – establish things like corporate culture, company vision, mission and strategy, key people and structure, recent news events involving the company and significant events in their development. Oh, and why would you like to work for the company again? You have about two minutes to make a first impression and establish rapport. Look for clues in the office relating to the interviewer’s interests that you might talk about (family pictures, clues to hobbies or interests, etc.) Once rapport is established, the interview will be much easier.
At least for me personally, I've always tried to do a really good job every day, with each interview, and treat each interview seriously, and make the person I'm speaking with feel comfortable, hopefully make it an ideal experience.
As for the interview itself, I have only this one thing to say; if you have done the preparation spoken of above, you can relax and enjoy the process. Being there, in the moment, is the most important thing about the interview. Put all the distractions from your mind and let the preparation done take over.
Follow up on resumes submitted and interviews, but let the interviewer know that you will be doing so. Also, don’t overdo it and become an irritation. If no answer is forthcoming, let them know that you take it that they are not interested, and that you will be moving on to other possibilities and not following up again. If they are seriously still considering you, they will respond by giving you a definite date by which they’ll have an answer. Whether you are made the offer or not, don’t give up on yourself. Salesmen who sell for a living will generally have to go through ten “No’s” before they get to one “Yes”. Just because someone doesn’t realise you potential does not mean that you are any less valuable. And if the job or the company are not what you really wanted, don’t take it for the sake of having an income, you deserve to work in an environment that will bring out the best in you.