Let’s take Ronnie’s case. The country manager of a resorts firm, Ronnie was a go-getter in every sense of the word. He loved achieving goals and exceeding targets. Aggressive, energetic, and exceedingly ambitious, he looked for the same qualities in the people he interviewed. So even if he was interviewing for positions of office staff or store assistants, Ronnie sought dynamism and drive in candidates. He summarily rejected qualified and suitable applicants if they could not meet his standards of assertiveness and ambition. It took a lot of cajoling by company HR to make him accept people different from him, for what they were worth.
Numbers 1-7 Know Your Audience
Get a sense of “who” the company is and how to embody a similar personality during your interview. Start by reading the company’s blog and Facebook page—the tone of the company’s content on these sites will speak volumes. Or, try reading individual employees’ blogs to figure out what type of people work (and excel) there.
Twitter can also be an excellent resource because you can see what the company and its employees are talking about. Are they sarcastically bantering with each other? Feel free to throw a few jokes in as you’re meeting with people. Are they tweeting up a storm about an event or product launch? Use it as a conversation starter.
No matter what role you’re interviewing for—engineering, sales, marketing—you should always use the product before your first interview (and ideally, a few times). If hired, your goal will be to create value for the people who use that product, and being a user yourself is the first step.
Before your interview, get a list of the people you’re meeting with from the company. Then learn more about them—including what type of behavior might intrigue them or turn them off. Finally, prep some questions that are specific to each interviewer: Ask for details about her focus at the firm, discuss current events on his specialty, or bring up a common interest you know he or she has outside the office.
Different companies use different types of interviews, so ask what you’ll be faced with. For example, some companies will ask case questions or brain teasers while others will give a standard set of typical interview and leadership questions. Asking the recruiter or HR contact about the interview format ahead of time is totally fair game. And once you know, investing time to become familiar with this style can make a huge difference.
Interviewing techniques tip 2: Develop a compelling story
We tend to conclude that our lives are pretty much the same as other people’s, that they’re average and boring. As a result, many people don’t tell their own story well. But your story is so much better than you think. The way your life has evolved; the things you’ve learned; your achievements, failings, and dreams—these things are unique to you and much more interesting than you realize. Sharing your well thought-out story is a powerful interviewing technique.
Your story is what helps people understand who you are and where you are going. So learn to tell your story and tell it well, especially for interviewing and networking purposes. Putting together your story takes a lot of work and practice. However, the benefits to you and to your career are enormous. Your stories:
Developing your story for job interviews
- Take a comprehensive inventory of the chapters of your life. Think about major events, memories, and turning points that shaped who you are. Make notes about your feelings, expectations, and frustrations, or what you learned, accomplished, and experienced. Organize your chapters by time periods or jobs.
- Focus on memorable “aha” moments. These stories need to have vivid dimensions so people will experience that moment with you. It may have been a moment with your mom on the porch, or a trip you took to a faraway place, or what a boss or mentor told you. The stories don’t have to be dramatic, just meaningful to you.
- Uncover the themes in your story. What emerges as your passion? Mentoring others, doing research, helping a specific type of client, advancing knowledge in your field? What gives you joy? Are you a teacher, a leader, an entrepreneur, a risk taker?
- Reflect on your career path. How have you arrived where you are today? Why did you make certain choices? Who helped you along the way? What motivated you then and now? Have your career goals remained the same or have they changed? Are you someone who likes new projects? Or executes the details of someone else’s vision?
Practice makes perfect
Once you’ve developed your story, the next step is to practice telling it—saying it out loud, ideally to others. Don’t wait until the interview to tell it for the first time. Try reciting it into a tape recorder or sharing it with a confidante for feedback. Get over your feelings of story inadequacy or thinking that a job well done speaks for itself.
As you become more comfortable in how to tell your story, you will see that your life has not just been a string of random events. Your story has a past and it has a future and the road ahead becomes clearer when you understand where you have been. The ultimate test will be the next time someone says, “Tell me about yourself.”
Interviewing techniques tip 3: Tailor your story to the job
Applying your story to a specific employer or job is the next step. Lining up the stories that apply to the opportunity at hand is critical. Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes and pose the questions you would ask. Which stories are relevant to this job interview? Think about personal stories that show how you handled change, made choices under pressure, or learned lessons from mistakes and failures. You should also think about stories you can tell in the interview that reveal your skill set.
Learning and appreciating your story is a prerequisite to any interview process. Don’t rely on your ability to think on your feet. Anticipate the questions and have answers at the ready. In the end, this is about making a great and memorable impression that demonstrates competency and ability.
You may want to start by developing your stories around these areas:
If you’re having trouble developing a good interviewing story, ask your friends or family members for their own success stories. Notice the elements that make them work, such as specific details and a smooth flow. Notice elements that don’t work, such as vagueness or rambling. Then think about your own experience and try to uncover the moments when you really excelled or when you rose to meet a challenge. After you identify several, practice them until they flow easy and work on adapting them to different types of questions.
The modern job interview, as old as it is, hasn’t changed much considering modern technological advances. Some actionable interviewing tips for interviewers are just the thing to bring your process up to date.
Best Techniques for a Successful Job Interview
Alison Doyle is one of the nation’s foremost career experts and has counseled both students and corporations on hiring practices. She has given hundreds of interviews on the topic for outlets including The New York Times, BBC News, and LinkedIn. Alison founded CareerToolBelt.com and has been an expert in the field for more than 20 years.
When you’re interviewing for a job, the little things can make a big difference. Even a small mistake can cost you a job offer. Take the time to prepare so you can make the best possible impression at every job interview you go on.
These interview techniques cover all the basics you need to know polish up your interview technique and ace a job interview. From checking out the company to sending an interview thank you note, make your meeting with the hiring manager a success from beginning to end.
20 Tips for Great Job Interviews
1. Research the industry and company.
An interviewer may ask how you perceive his company’s position in its industry, who the firm’s competitors are, what its competitive advantages are, and how it should best go forward. For this reason, avoid trying to thoroughly research a dozen different industries. Focus your job search on just a few industries instead.
2. Clarify your "selling points" and the reasons you want the job.
Prepare to go into every interview with three to five key selling points in mind, such as what makes you the best candidate for the position. Have an example of each selling point prepared ("I have good communication skills. For example, I persuaded an entire group to . "). And be prepared to tell the interviewer why you want that job – including what interests you about it, what rewards it offers that you find valuable, and what abilities it requires that you possess. If an interviewer doesn’t think you’re really, really interested in the job, he or she won’t give you an offer – no matter how good you are!
3. Anticipate the interviewer’s concerns and reservations.
There are always more candidates for positions than there are openings. So interviewers look for ways to screen people out. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself why they might not want to hire you (“I don’t have this,” “I’m not that,” etc.). Then prepare your defense: “I know you may be thinking that I might not be the best fit for this position because [their reservation]. But you should know that [reason the interviewer shouldn’t be overly concerned]."
4. Prepare for common interview questions.
Every "how to interview" book has a list of a hundred or more "common interview questions." (You might wonder just how long those interviews are if there are that many common questions!) So how do you prepare? Pick any list and think about which questions you’re most likely to encounter, given your age and status (about to graduate, looking for a summer internship). Then prepare your answers so you won’t have to fumble for them during the actual interview.
5. Line up your questions for the interviewer.
Come to the interview with some intelligent questions for the interviewer that demonstrate your knowledge of the company as well as your serious intent. Interviewers always ask if you have any questions, and no matter what, you should have one or two ready. If you say, "No, not really," he or she may conclude that you’re not all that interested in the job or the company. A good all-purpose question is, "If you could design the ideal candidate for this position from the ground up, what would he or she be like?"
If you’re having a series of interviews with the same company, you can use some of your prepared questions with each person you meet (for example, "What do you think is the best thing about working here?" and "What kind of person would you most like to see fill this position?") Then, try to think of one or two others during each interview itself.
6. Practice, practice, practice.
It’s one thing to come prepared with a mental answer to a question like, "Why should we hire you?" It’s another challenge entirely to say it out loud in a confident and convincing way. The first time you try it, you’ll sound garbled and confused, no matter how clear your thoughts are in your own mind! Do it another 10 times, and you’ll sound a lot smoother and more articulate.
But you shouldn’t do your practicing when you’re "on stage" with a recruiter; rehearse before you go to the interview. The best way to rehearse? Get two friends and practice interviewing each other in a "round robin": one person acts as the observer and the "interviewee" gets feedback from both the observer and the "interviewer." Go for four or five rounds, switching roles as you go. Another idea (but definitely second-best) is to tape record your answer and then play it back to see where you need to improve. Whatever you do, make sure your practice consists of speaking aloud. Rehearsing your answer in your mind won’t cut it.
7. Score a success in the first five minutes.
Some studies indicate that interviewers make up their minds about candidates in the first five minutes of the interview – and then spend the rest of the interview looking for things to confirm that decision! So what can you do in those five minutes to get through the gate? Come in with energy and enthusiasm, and express your appreciation for the interviewer’s time. (Remember: She may be seeing a lot of other candidates that day and may be tired from the flight in. So bring in that energy!)
Also, start off with a positive comment about the company – something like, "I’ve really been looking forward to this meeting [not "interview"]. I think [the company] is doing great work in [a particular field or project], and I’m really excited by the prospect of being able to contribute."
Interviewing tip #14 – Exchange information
Once you’ve got your interview method down pat, it can be easy to fall into a routine and give each interview a ‘cookie cutter’ kind of feeling. This, obviously, is not a good thing. Be sure that each and every interview, you’re exchanging information by informing the candidate about the position, and learning more about your applicant. Don’t simply ask questions for the sake of asking them.
From time to time, try rewriting questions in a different manner. Try asking a behavioral based question, and then in the next interview, rephrase that question. For example, in one interview ask ‘Describe how you would prioritize, organize and track your work’. In the next interview for the same position, ask a simplified version, ‘How do you manage your workload?’.
This is essentially the same question, just written in a different way, but both answers need a clear and concise answer. One question implies that a detailed answer is needed and the other doesn’t. Asking questions in a manner like this can help see if your candidate can show initiative.
Interviewing tip #17 – Tell them what to expect next
At the onset and conclusion of your interview, explain the recruitment process to the candidate. No matter how simple or complex your interview process is, it’s important that your candidate knows how your recruitment ecosystem functions. At the end of the interview, tell your candidate when they’ll hear from you again. The next step is simple but overlooked all too often.
Whether you’re a seasoned recruiter or just starting your career, this handful of interviewing tips can help improve your recruitment process. In summary, you’ll never go wrong if you’re open, easy-going, and give your candidate the stage to talk about themselves. Most of them are common sense but overlooked as we’re too laser-focused on the finer points of creating a recruitment process.
Hand and arm movements shouldn’t be too large. Don’t fiddle, shake your leg or tap your fingers. This is unprofessional and may distract your potential employer. Your posture should be relaxed, but alert. Don’t slouch; if you look bored the interviewer will assume you’d be bored in the job, too.
Job Interview Tips
After you’ve built your résumé, written a great cover letter and scheduled the interview, it’s time to meet the interviewer and get the position you’ve applied for. This guide can help you prepare for your important interview day.
Companies like candidates who know what they want from a job. They are also impressed with someone who has done research before arriving at the interview. Make the effort to look into the organization you’re interested in, and you’ll find yourself ahead of the competition.
To get a sense of how the organization you’re interested in sees itself, go to their corporate website and read about the company’s history and plans for the future. Company websites, along with their official social media pages, often have employee photos or posts about the business, both of which will give you some idea of the company culture. You can also read the company’s brochures and annual reports if they’ve been made publicly available. No matter the size of the company, you can do a web search for the organization’s name and read any articles that may have mentioned the company. For example, you may discover that the organization was recently involved in a charitable event—or a lawsuit.
You may also be interested to find out what other people think about the organization you’re interested in. These days, most organizations are rated and reviewed by online users in some way. Just be wary about what you’re reading, because anyone can post an opinion, whether it’s an accurate representation or not. Additionally, the Better Business Bureau is an organization that helps people find trustworthy businesses and charities, and may be able to tell you if the organization you’re interested in is a member or not.
Six tips for interviewers
Having the ability to conduct a great interview is an advantage for any company, working within any sector. Professionals with the ability to properly interview and ask questions are always in demand from companies. Every interview is different from the last, so it’s important that you know how to conduct yourself properly and find the information that you need through targeted questions. There are lots of different ways that you can learn the skills to do this and these tips can help you to become a better interviewer. Here are six tips for interviewers:
1. Learn about your candidate
Before you enter your interview, learn as much as you can about the candidate you’re interviewing. This gives you the ability to ask the right type of questions that might reveal the most about the candidate in the areas you want to hear about. Learning about key points of interest about the candidate, such as their achievements and skills, can help you ask questions that might reveal further qualities and skills the candidate possesses. This might be the type of information that can help you make a recruitment decision later, so it’s important to make the effort before the interview.
There are lots of different ways you can research information about your candidate. Not only can you examine the information they have sent you, such as their CV, you can also phone their references and learn about them through their past employers. You might also examine their social media presence, which can help to give you a better idea of their personality and hobbies. Your best source of information is the candidate themself, but learning about how other people think about them can help you to refine your questions and find the information you need for making a decision.
2. Schedule efficiently
Something that’s extremely important but also easily overlooked is ensuring that you schedule your interviews efficiently. Managing a large group of interviews within a short period can be stressful, so make sure to plan what times you want these interviews to take place as soon as you can. Remember that a candidate may be taking time off of their own work to attend this interview, so try to inform everyone as early as you can. Properly scheduling your interviews allows you to avoid the stress and pressure of a rushed interview and helps them to run smoothly and efficiently.
3. Follow a plan
By following a structured plan, you can help to manage the length of your interviews while also ensuring that you address the key points and questions that you wanted to ask the candidate. Nearly all interviews follow a simple structure. Start with introductions and a general overview of the position that your company is offering. You can then progress into some basic questions about the candidate, which get increasingly harder or more complex as the interview goes on. Remember to leave time for the candidate to ask their own questions. Always include some extra time as a buffer.
Sometimes, no matter what you do, an interview may run over time. This is why it’s important to include enough buffer time within every interview so that you don’t keep other candidates waiting. As an interviewer, you represent your company to the potential candidates. Arriving late to an interview or keeping candidates waiting reflects badly on both you and your company, which can leave a negative lasting impression. By having a buffer, you can ensure that no one waits longer than they are expecting and as a benefit, you appear professional and courteous. Imparting a good impression is very important.
4. Create a comfortable atmosphere
By creating a comfortable atmosphere, you create an environment where you are most likely to get the information you want from your candidate. You can create a comfortable environment in a variety of different ways. Offer the candidate a refreshment when they enter the interview and, if you have the time, try to conduct some quick small talk before you officially begin the interview. This can help both you and the candidate to feel more comfortable with each other, making for a much easier interview. You can also do this by asking simple questions at the start of the interview.
When you ask easy or simple questions at the beginning of an interview, you allow the candidate’s confidence to build as they relax into the interview. A relaxed candidate is far more likely to reveal information that accurately portrays how they actually work. You may ask questions to learn where a person is from or about their hobbies. These simple questions may even reveal information that you may want to follow up on or lead to more questions in the area.
5. Ask follow-up questions
Some candidate responses might be unclear or the response might have inspired a related question that you feel could reveal more about the candidate. Ask these questions as needed throughout the interview. When doing so, clarify that the question relates to something you or the candidate previously said. For example, if the candidate mentions that they taught themselves how to code but doesn’t go into more detail, wait until they complete their response before saying, "You mentioned you taught yourself coding. Can you tell me more about that?"
Use These Tips for How to Pass an Interview and Get More Job Offers
Don’t forget: Motivation, interest, and how you explain yourself and the reason you’re interviewing are just as important as your actual resume/skillset. I can’t stress this enough in terms of important job interview tips to remember!
By using the interview tips and strategies above, you can beat out somebody with more experience and a more impressive resume because job interviewing is a separate skill… a skill that you’ve spent time mastering.
Hold Up! Before you go on an interview.
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