The Interview

Interviewing Success Guide

Heading in for an interview? Use this guide to prepare yourself for rocking it. Looking for an IT position in Minnesota? Check out our open job listings.

Do your homework – on the company.

Find out as much about the company – its history, its current situation and its future as you can.

Do your homework – on the position.

Have a thorough understanding of the position, its duties and responsibilities. Be prepared to ask good questions:

Do your homework – on yourself.

  1. Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
    • Who has been successful and why?
    • Who has failed and why?
    • Who does the position report to?
    • Review all career history thoroughly.
    • Review all dates, positions, duties, responsibilities, and accomplishments.
    • Know your strengths and weaknesses.
    • Be prepared to cite specific examples of achievement and how they can help the company solve some of its problems.
    • Concentrate on your most recent positions but don’t neglect your career.
    • Reflect on your early success so can adequately impart your success when you have a chance! Remember the prospective employer will make his or her hiring decision based on these key factors:
      • Attitude and business poise
      • Image presentation and communication skills
      • Experience and skill set
      • Education and certifications
      • Transferable industry and technical background
  1. Be Prepared and Confident
    • Arrive early to the interview – at least 15 minutes.
    • Be enthusiastic about the position and the company
    • Ask good, specific questions – respond positively to the interviewer’s questions whenever possible.
    • Do not discuss salary or benefit packages – remain open. Let your recruiter handle these sensitive negotiations.
    • Sell your attitude during the interview. Ask for the position – be proactive at the end of the interview.

 

Your preparation will allow you to enter the interview relaxed and confident that you can fulfill the needs of the company.

BUT you are only halfway there. During the interview, you will be asked difficult questions. These questions are designed to see how you will react under pressure and unfamiliar territory. There are no “pat” answers to these questions. Interviewers ask different questions and look for different responses. However, by being familiar with these types of questions you may be asked, you will give yourself the opportunity to answer these questions comfortably and confidently. Some stress questions are listed later in the guide.

Remember to:

  1. During the interview
    • When meeting the interviewer, mirror their demeanor.
    • Do not answer questions with a simple ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Sell yourself by using examples and paint a clear picture of where, when, how, what, and why you did it.
    • Stress your records, achievements and accomplishments.
    • Answer all questions clearly and succinctly. Do not ramble on. Role play some responses before the interview. Practice makes perfect!
    • Do not make derogatory remarks about previous or present employers.
    • Tell your possible employer what you are going to do for them, NOT what they can do for you.
    • Always represent yourself honestly.
    • Answer the question that’s asked. If you are unsure about the question, ask the interviewer to repeat it.
    • Answer questions honestly and directly. Interviewers want candidates they can trust. Honest and direct answers are extremely disarming and, because they’re relatively rare, are very effective. Remember to play up your strengths. If you have to discuss negative experiences, point out what you learned from them and why you won’t make the same mistakes again.
    • Organize your answers. Consider ways to give your answer structure, either by organizing your response chronologically or organizing your response chronologically or organize points in order of their importance.
    • Be brief. An interview is supposed to be a dialogue, not a diatribe. If you think you’re going on too long, cut your answer short.
    • Be energetic. If you are not interested in or energized by your response, how can you expect the interviewer to be?
    • Be positive about your reason for leaving your current job or any previous jobs. The key to remember here is “more”. You want more challenges, more opportunity, etc. If you’ve been fired or laid off, stress how much you’ve learned from the experience and how it has helped you become even better at what you do.
    • Quantify the confidence other employers have placed in you. Do this by stressing specific facts, measurable accomplishments and figures.
    • Never speak poorly of past employers.
    • Make the job you’re interviewing for your chief objective. Frame your answers so that you let the interviewer know that you see this job as a means to achieving your ultimate career goals.
  1. Sample Questions
    • What are your short term objectives? Long term objectives?
    • What do you look for in a job?
    • What is the difference between a good position and a great one?
    • Why are you leaving? Why did your business fail?
    • Why did you choose to interview with my organization?
    • What can you do for us that someone else cannot?
    • Why should we hire you?
    • Do you work well under deadlines, pressure, etc.?
    • How are you best managed?
    • How has your early career or background influenced your progression and/or current management style?
    • How has your management style changed over the years?
    • What are the most important rewards you expect in your career?
    • What are your five biggest accomplishments in your present or past job? In your career?
    • What is your biggest strength? Weakness?
    • What qualifications do you have that make you think you will be successful in the position?
    • In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our firm?
    • How long would it take you to make a contribution to our firm?
    • If you could start differently, what would you do differently?
    • What new goals and objectives have you established recently?
    • What qualities have you liked or disliked in your boss?
    • What was the most difficult ethical decision you’ve ever had to make?
    • What was the result?
    • Why have you not obtained a job so far?
    • What features of your previous jobs have you disliked?
    • Would you describe a few situations in which your work was criticized?
    • How would you evaluate your present firm?

 

Closing the interview – If the interviewer has failed to elicit some important information about you, make that information known before you leave. Lastly, find out what the next steps will be and when they are likely to occur.

  1. Questions to ask
    • Tell me about the history/growth of the company.
    • In the recent history of the company, what has been the biggest advance and setback?
    • What is your highest priority in the next 6 months and how could someone like me help?
    • Tell me about a typical day.
    • What are the characteristics of your top people?
    • Where do you see the company going in the next several years?
    • What are three main qualities you look for in a candidate?
    • How do you see me fitting in with your company?
    • If I were to ask the top person/people what they like the most/least about the company what kind of a response would I get?
    • How do I compare with other qualified applicants?
    • Do you have any hesitations about me being successful with your company?
    • What does your interview process entail?
    • What are your personal satisfactions and disappointments since you have been with the firm?

 

These are frequently the first step in the interviewing process and you want your first impression to make a strong impact!

Again, do not take this step in the interview process lightly. This is a great opportunity to sell yourself and to find out more about the position.

Last, but certainly not least, the phone interview is the opportune time to set up a face-to-face meeting. Don’t be afraid to ask for the appointment!

  1. The Phone Interview
    • Treat the phone interview as you would a personal, face-to-face interview. Just because it’s over the phone does not mean that you should take it lightly.
    • Make sure the phone you plan to use for the call is of high quality and charged if needed.
    • If you have an answering machine/voicemail make sure the message is both courteous and professional.
    • Be aware of any potential distractions (radio, TV, background conversations, etc…). Plan to sit in a quiet room or area where you can think and speak in a productive manner.
    • If you have “call waiting”, do not interrupt your phone call during the phone interview.
    • If you have a bad connection and/or difficulty hearing the other person, offer to call them back.
    • Be fully prepared with your notes in regards to: 1) The Company 2) the Position, and 3) Yourself and Your resume
  1. 25 Things to Avoid
    • Poor personal appearance
    • Lack of interest and enthusiasm
    • Over-emphasis on money
    • Criticism of past employers
    • Failure to maintain good eye contact
    • Limp, “dead-fish” handshake
    • Late for the interview
    • Failure to express appreciation for the interviewers time
    • Did not ask enough detailed questions about the position
    • Lacked sufficient detail when responding to questions asked by the interviewer
    • Over-bearing, over-aggressive, conceited, “know-it-all” complex
    • Inability to express oneself clearly
    • Lack of planning for career; no purpose or goals
    • Lack of confidence; ill at ease
    • Lack of factual information
    • Lack of manners; courtesy
    • Lack of maturity
    • Lack of vitality
    • Indecisive
    • Merely shopping around
    • Cynical
    • Lack of strong work ethic
    • Intolerant
    • Inability to take criticism/not open to being mentored
    • High-pressure type
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