The Employment Clinic
By Lawrence Alter
This is the final installment in a series of articles emphasizing the importance of effective interviewing.
The ultimate purpose of the job search campaign is to generate offers. If you are generating interviews but not converting them to offers, you will need to examine your attitude, approach, appearance, how you present your background, your method of answering the interviewer’s questions, and your follow up techniques. Remember always that you are a salesperson who needs to convince a hiring authority of your merits. Your objective is to persuade the interviewer that you possess the necessary skills to do the job, and to develop the chemistry so that they perceive you to be the best candidate in their organizational culture. You will certainly need to shape your method of presentation as well as your responses to the personality and style of the interviewer. So to quote the Boy Scout Motto, “Be Prepared.”
The following guidelines represent a synopsis for a successful interview:
- Be informed. Do your due diligence using the library, online tools, and your own detective techniques. Knowledge gives you power.
- Be organized and prepared with questions you wish to ask, information you want to convey, and objections you may need to handle. Practice your interviewing techniques.
- Get a good night’s sleep the evening before your interview, dress and groom yourself for success, and prepare yourself with a positive mental attitude. Take a breath mint before your meeting.
- Arrive at least 15 minutes early. If, for whatever reason, you can’t be on time, call to inform the company that you are running late. This is an important courtesy.
- Be pleasant and courteous. Have a smile for everyone you meet.
- Be energetic, show enthusiasm for the job, and listen to what is being said rather than thinking about what you want to say next. If you do not understand a question, ask for clarification. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t understand something.
- Manage the flow of information by asking incisive and relevant questions. The more information you acquire, the more you will be able to sell your problem solving abilities.
- Use examples and short stories to highlight your achievements and to demonstrate your problem solving skills and management strengths.
- Focus your presentation on how your particular talents can help the company solve specific problems, contribute to profits, and reach organizational goals. Emphasize your ability to effectively manage time, people, and company resources.
- Always be honest. Never exaggerate or over-embellish your achievements.
- Believe in yourself and be convinced of your own merits and the value you can add to a company. Your presentation will be more compelling.
- Do not become defensive or argumentative. Disagreements do not generate offers. Look for positive methods of dealing with negative questions.
- An invitation to breakfast or lunch should never be refused. This is a wonderful opportunity to further establish a chemistry bond with the interviewer.
- Do not invade the interviewer’s space by moving your chair closer to the desk or by putting anything on the desk – unless invited to do so.
- Consider questions as an opportunity to sell yourself and your capabilities. View negative questions are the “objections” you must overcome to persuade the interviewer to make you an offer.
- Don’t interrupt the interviewer and don’t talk too much. Being verbose will usually harm, not enhance, your efforts.
- At the end of the meeting ask for the order. Tell the interviewer you want the job or indicate your desire to work for the company.
- Control the follow up by asking for a commitment at the end of the meeting. Find out the next course of action, what you can do to help them in their decision process, or when you can expect them to contact you or make a decision.
- Send a thank you letter within 24 hours. Emphasize any key problems or areas of concern that were discussed, highlighting your qualifications to deal with those issues. Keep your letter to less than one page.
- Call the interviewer after two days to extend a “personal” thank you, ask one or two additional pertinent questions, or present any further information that could assist you in being perceived as the ideal candidate for the job.
Each interview is unique, and although these guidelines will serve you well, there is no one specific formula for success. Use your best judgment and let intuition be your guide as each interviewing opportunity presents itself. Do not let disappointment or rejection dissuade you from your objective. Be persistent, remain confident, and believe in yourself. Ultimately, you will achieve your mission.
"Author Lawrence Alter is president of L.D.A. Enterprises, Ltd.; a Minneapolis based outplacement and career management firm. He is a recognized expert in career growth techniques. Send ideas or questions via email to: LDA@EmploymentClinic.com. Website address: www.EmploymentClinic.com"