Get that Job! Tips for the Job Interview
May 6, 2007 7:51pm CST
by Peter Vogt for Monster.ca During the typical job interview, you'll be asked a lot of questions. But do you really understand what the interviewer needs to know? "Most students have no idea why a recruiter asks a particular question," says Brad Karsh, a former recruiting professional for advertising giant Leo Burnett and current president of career consulting firm Job Bound. "They tend to think it's a competition to outwit the interviewer." The reality is that employers have neither the time nor inclination to play games with you, especially when hiring. Your interviewer is not trying to outguess you -- he's trying to assess your answers to six key questions: Do You Have the Skills to Do the Job? According to Karsh, the employer must first determine whether you have the necessary hard skills for the position, e.g., the programming knowledge for a database administration job or the writing chops to be a newspaper reporter. "By really probing into what the candidate has done in the past, an interviewer can tap into hard skills." But the interviewer is also looking for key soft skills you'll need to succeed in the job and organization, such as the ability to work well on teams or "the requisite common sense to figure things out with some basic training," says Terese Corey Blanck, director of student development at internship company Student Experience and a partner in College to Career, a consulting firm. Do You Fit? "Every organization's first thought is about fit and potentially fit in a certain department," Corey Blanck says. That means the interviewer is trying to pinpoint not only whether you match up well with both the company's and department's activities but also whether you'll complement the talents of your potential coworkers. Do You Understand the Company and Its Purpose? If the organization fits well with your career aspirations, you'll naturally be motivated to do good work there -- and stay more than a month or two, Corey Blanck reasons. "I don't want someone to take the position because it's a job and it fits their skills. I want them to be excited about our mission and what we do." How Do You Stack Up Against the Competition? You're being evaluated in relation to other candidates for the job. In other words, this test is graded on a curve. So the interviewer will constantly be comparing your performance with that of the other candidates. Do You Have the Right Mind-Set for the Job and Company? "I'm always looking for someone who has a can-do type of attitude," Corey Blanck explains. "I want someone who wants to be challenged and is internally motivated to do well." Corey Blanck points out that an employer can't train for this essential trait. "But you can hire for it. And if you don't, you'll end up with a lower-performing employee." Do You Want the Job? Most employers know better than to believe everyone they interview actually wants the position being offered. They understand some candidates are exploring their options, while others are using an interview with a company they don't care about to hone their interview skills. So you have to prove you really want the job, says Al Pollard, senior college recruiter for Countrywide Financial. "I use the ditch-digger analogy: Many of us can dig ditches, but few are willing to -- and even fewer want to." --- Seven Interviewer Pet Peeves You sit facing the interviewer, feeling like things are moving along nicely when all of a sudden the interview takes a drastic turn for the worse. What just happened? You may have hit one of the interviewer’s pet peeves, one of those things that automatically triggers a negative response. Here are seven of the most common peeves provided by experienced interviewers, along with some tips on how to avoid them: 1. Smells: Too Much of a Good Smell Can Be Bad Pat Riley, author of Secrets of Breaking into Pharmaceutical Sales, has a pet peeve story to relate: "Preparing for an interview is not like preparing for a date. I had one interview with a woman who doused herself with perfume (the same perfume my ex-girlfriend used to wear) right before stepping into the small interview booth. The perfume was overpowering and brought back bad memories." 2. Communication: Too Little Leaves Interviewers Exasperated "My number one interviewing pet peeve is an applicant who won’t talk,” says Steve Jones, a manager of client services at a software company. “I try to ask open-ended questions and prod them for longer answers, but no luck. I’ve even mentioned to a few that I need more information so I can get an idea of where they’re coming from -- still no luck. I always end the interview saying, ‘Now it’s your turn to ask questions,’ and still no luck; they don’t have any. Oh well -- next!” “Help me out here,” says Jones. “Come prepared to answer questions and talk about yourself.” 3. Communication: Too Much Can Be Too Much "Candidates who ramble are the ones who get to me," says Dotti Bousquet of Resource Group Staffing. “Last week, I was interviewing a candidate and asked her one question. The candidate talked and talked and talked for 45 minutes straight. I was unable to stop her. I had to say, ‘Let’s wrap this up,’ and I stood up while she continued to talk. I walked to the door of the office and opened it. She left, but continued to talk while walking out the door." The lesson? “Candidates should stay focused, and answer the question asked -- in less than two to three minutes," advises Bousquet. 4. Lack of Focus: Results in Losing the Interviewer "Typically, candidates are simply too intimidated by the process," says Mark Fulop, project director for a large nonprofit agency. "Relating the answer given to one question back with another -- and asking clarifying or follow-up questions -- shows me that the candidate is confident and thinking about the whole picture instead of enduring an interrogation." 5. Averting Your Eyes: One Way to Avert an Offer "People who do not make any eye contact during the entire interview” irritate Gwen Sobiech, an agency recruiter. “I realize some people are shy, but to never look at me once -- they look down, around, everywhere, but not at me for the entire interview. I find that extremely annoying. I also tend to distrust someone who will not look at me when I’ve asked a question." If you are uncomfortable looking into someone’s eyes, look at his "third eye,” just above and between the person’s two eyes. 6. Slang and Street Speak: Leave Them on the Street "Poor communications skills really get to me," says Robert Fodge of Power Brokers. "What I mean by this is not merely their language fluency, but more about the use of language. Slang words and street speak just don’t have a place in most business environments. Also, candidates who say ’um,’ ’like’ and ’uh’ between every other word lose my attention very quickly." 7. Deception: Little Lies Leave a Big Impression One major complaint among recruiters is when a candidate is not completely truthful; small lies are all too common in the world of recruitment. This includes not being completely forthcoming with relevant information, embellishing accomplishments, hiding jobs or leading the process on with no intention of ever following through. Building trust during the interview is key to getting an offer. --- Just thought those were some great tips for those looking for a new job right now and wanted to pass them along!