Interview advice: Be prepared, but be yourselfJun 4th, 2007 | By Bill | Category: Employment News
Be early and be prepared, but don’t forget to be yourself.
Q: I have a job interview next week with a company I really like. I don’t have very much interviewing experience, and I made lots of mistakes in the last one. Any suggestions?
A: If you’re nervous about the interview, that can be a good thing. It means you’re excited about the opportunity and the potential job. The trick is to leave your nervous quirks at the interviewer’s doorstep. You can do that if you’re fully prepared.
Find out as much about the company as you can using the Internet, newspaper articles and personal contacts. This should give you the basics, such as company history and top executives. With that, you’ll be better prepared to ask smart questions about the culture, company goals and room for advancement. (Our expert has another view on preparation, below).
Visit the interview location before the big day so you won’t be late when it counts. Plan to arrive 15 minutes early for the interview.
People who can’t relax in an interview make lots of mistakes. What did you learn from your last experience? Instead of beating yourself up, go over the interview in your head and visualize how you would do it differently, if you had a second chance.
Ruth Haag is an interview expert. The CEO of Haag Environmental Company has been hiring people for 30 years, and she knows all the dumb moves we make, many without ever realizing it. Haag has written several books, including “Hiring and Firing” (available at www.haagpress.com).
If you want this job, don’t make the mistakes she has seen:
* Don’t advertise your failures. “I interviewed a person who flunked out of an engineering program, but was so proud that he had tried, that he had a transcript to show me the classes that he had failed.”
* Don’t try to use the interviewer’s name, unless you are very good at remembering names. “You risk the chance of calling the person by the wrong name, or irritating him or her with a mispronunciation.”
* Don’t dress to “fit” the company. Neatness and classic clothing â€“ suits and sport coats â€“ make the safest interview uniform.
* Don’t ace the interview.
This last bit of advice puzzled me. But Haag insists that it is an important strategy. Ultimately, it could get you hired.
“Your interviewer is looking for someone who will get along with the other employees and who will work hard,” Haag said. “If you try to ace the interview by sounding smooth and saying trite phrases such as ‘I am a team player,’ or ‘I am a quick learner,’ and ‘You won’t be disappointed in my work,’ you will be saying just what everyone else has said.
“Instead, say genuine things like: ‘My favorite job experience was when I was working with the general public at a library. I was able to help people find books that interested them, and it was very rewarding.’ This might sound a little bit dull, but you have shown how you can work well with people.
“Consider the questions that are asked of you, and answer them truthfully. But don’t be too prepared.
“I have a set of interview questions that is non-traditional. I was once interviewing a person from a local college. He had a ready answer for each of my questions. I finally determined that the only way he could have answered the questions so quickly was if he knew ahead of time what they were. I had interviewed several people from the same college, and I deduced that the school had prepared a file on our interview questions. I did not hire the person because I really didn’t know what his answers were. I only knew that he had prepared ahead of time.”
What’s your best tip for interviewing? Have you ever you botched an interview? What happened and what did you learn from it? Post comments at the end of this article and see what other readers are saying.
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