Acing the interview

PrologueToday's Hiring Authority and YouWhat Today's Job Seekers Need to Know About Themselves and Their CompetitionPutting Yourself in ContextThe Uncertain Attitude of the U.S. WorkerGenerational DNAYour Emotional StateParadox of InterviewingHow These Things Affect YouWhat Today's Job Seekers Need to Know About Today's Hiring Authorities and Their CompaniesThe Nature of CompaniesYour Next (Possible) Employer's Generational DNAPersonality Styles and the Individuals You Will MeetFear of Making a Hiring MistakeHow These Things Affect YouHow and with Whom to Get an InterviewKeep RecordsWhat to SayThe InternetHow the Internet Can Help YouBusinesses That Can Help You Get an InterviewWorking with RecruitersPerspective on What Recruiters Can and Can't Do for YouRecruiters' Biggest Challenge with CandidatesRecruiters' Biggest Challenge with Hiring OrganizationsPerspectiveWhat This Means to YouFeatures, Advantages, and BenefitsWarm CallsWarm Call ScriptAnalysis of the ScriptLeaving VoicemailsHow These Things Affect YouImportant Reminders About InterviewsYou are selling yourself. It isn't a "two way-street." You need to sell your particular "features, advantages, and benefits." The most qualified candidate does not always get the job. Prepare by researching for interviews. Have prepared questions. Who should you get an interview with? Interview with a non-hiring authority is different. Time is your enemy. Take notes. First impressions are critical. Dress professionally. Watch your body language. Delivery is important. Don't talk too much or too little. Give clear explanations. Close for the next interview. Focus on the process of interviewing and don't worry about the result. It's a numbers game. Be aggressive. "No" is the second best answer you can get. All you can do is all you can do. Taking on the same style as the interviewer doesn't work. Sometimes taking on the style of the interviewer does work. Tell stories. Recognize and use metaphors and analogies to your advantage. You don't have anything until you have an offer. Acing the Initial InterviewSuccessful Technique No. 1Script AnalysisCustomizationSuccessful Technique No. 2Ending the Initial InterviewThe Follow-Up ActivityThe Immediate E-MailFollow-Up Phone CallSupporters: Great Assets or Your Worst NightmareAn Open Letter to SupportersBeing the NightmareBeing a True, Supportive CoachThe Four Types of Qualifying QuestionsCan You Do the Job?How Do Your Skills and Experience Fit?Tell me about yourself and your last few jobs. What kind of job are you looking for? Describe in detail your last two positions. Walk me through a day in your current or most recent job. What was the most difficult part of your last two jobs? What are you looking for in a job? What do you look for in a job? Describe the best job that you've ever had and why was it so much better than other ones you have had. How do you define success? What is your greatest accomplishment in each of your last three jobs? Are you creative? What do you know about the position you are applying for? How do we know that you will be successful at this job? What is the most recent business lesson you have learned and how did you learn it? What specifically have you learned from the jobs that you held most recently? What made you choose to become a_? What can you contribute most to our organization? What do you know about our business? What would be your ideal work group? Why did you apply to our company? I don't think with your experience and background you are capable of doing this job. What do you think? Why should I hire you? Why have you not been promoted sooner? If you're so good, why haven't you been promoted? How does our position compare with the other opportunities you are currently interviewing for? You really don't have as much experience as we would like; why should we hire you? Have you ever "failed" in a job? If you could, what would you change about the position you're interviewing for? What do you like most about this position? And what you like least about this position? Do you prefer to delegate or be a "hands-on" employee? If you could start your career over again, what would you do differently? If you could choose any organization to work for, whom would you go to? What is the most recent skill you have learned? How do you keep updated and informed in a professional sense?What is the most important professional lesson that you have learned from the jobs that you have had? Do you want to move into management? Have you ever had to fire someone? Describe the circumstances?What kind of people have you hired and what you look for in those people? Describe a major project that you have worked on and how it contributed to the overall good of your employer. Have you ever been involved in long-range planning? What percentage of your week or month was devoted to the different functions of your job? Can you work overtime or on weekends? How long do you think it will take for you to make a meaningful contribution to our organization? How many hours in your previous jobs did you have to work each week to get the job done? You don't have as much experience in some of the aspects of this job. How do we know if you can do it? What are some of the things in your last job that you didn't like?What reservations might you have about working here? How many levels of management have you had to communicate with? What do you think makes the position you are interviewing for is different from the jobs you've had or the other positions you are interviewing for? Are you a good employee/manager/engineer/accountant/sales person/administrative support person/etc.? How do you know? In what way has your present job prepared you to take on greater responsibilities? Can you relocate either now or in the future? In what areas could your boss do a better job? How well did you feel your boss rated your performance? How did your boss or previous bosses get the best out of you? Do you have budgetary responsibility? How large was your budget? Did you have any problems staying within budget? Give me an example of your past job experience that highlights your ability to build action plans or create programs that support management's strategic goals and direction. Tell me about an experience that illustrates your preference to be proactive in speaking to and maintaining contact with others or to wait for others to speak first or contact you. Do you know when to lead and when to follow? Can you identify the critical needs in a situation, deal with them, and put the others on the back burner? If you were offered this job, how long will it take you to decide? How Do You Handle Difficult Situations?Describe a difficult business problem that you had to deal with and how you did it. Describe a situation in your last one or two jobs where you made a mistake. What was the mistake and how did you rectify it? Where have you made difficult decisions before and what were they about? What makes you think you can handle this position? What are the things that you find most difficult to do? And how did you deal with them? What were the most important/difficult decisions that you made in your present, last job, or even your job before that? Has there ever been a situation where your work was criticized? What are one or two things you wished you had accomplished in your present or last job and the job before that? The job you are interviewing for requires you to "wear a lot of different hats." You have never done some of these functions, so how do we know that you are going to be able to do them? Describe a situation where you had to make a "seat of the pants" decision without a company policy as a model. Describe the situation where you had to work with a very difficult person. How did you handle it? Describe a situation where you had to make a quick decision in your last job. How do you make it? Have you ever had to carry out unpopular policies or decisions? In your present or last jobs, were there any problems that you discovered that had been previously overlooked? How did you deal with them? How do you approach doing things that you really don't like to do?When faced with a very difficult business decision, what do you do?What was the last thing you disagreed with your company about? Give me an example of when you were refused or told "no" by your company or supervisors. Give us an example of how you got your staff to support an unpopular decision. What special problems do you have with the day-to-day management of your staff? For what have you been most frequently criticized? Tell me about a time when you faced resistance or rejection to your ideas or actions. What did you do? We sometimes run into a person who makes unreasonable demands of us. Tell me about a time when this happened to you. Highlight your experience in dealing with interpersonal conflict disagreements by recalling a difficult situation that you were involved in. Are You Management Material? What Kind of Manager Are You?What is your management style? How would you define your job as a manager? What type of turnover have you had as a manager? How do you motivate your subordinates? Explain your hiring procedure. Describe the biggest mistake you made in hiring. How you handle dishonesty? Tell me about a situation where you were disappointed in your own performance. Give me an example of a new or innovative idea that you came up with or implemented. Do you communicate best with written or oral communications? What are people's greatest misperceptions about you? Tell me about a time when you had to "get your hands dirty" by doing a job that was one or two steps below you. As a manager, how have you promoted diversity? How much do you know about the duties or responsibilities of the managers or superiors two levels below you? You have moved up in the management ladder rapidly, but it seems like you've leveled off. Why? How long would you expect to be at this position if you got it? How you deal with disgruntled employees/subordinates? How often have you had to fire someone? Have you ever doubted your decision about firing someone? How This Affects YouDo I/We Like You?Will You Be a Fit with Us?Are you a leader or follower? What do people like most about you? What do they like least? What are your three greatest strengths? Three greatest weaknesses?What are your hobbies? Outside interests? Books you've read recently? What do you like and dislike about your present boss? How do you handle criticism? Rate yourself on the scale of one to ten. How would others at your present or previous jobs rate you on a scale of one to ten? Do you ever lie? What are one or two things your present or previous co-workers dislike about you? What makes you mad? How do you make your opinions known when you disagree with management or your boss? If you knew then what you know now, how would you change your life or your career? What is your definition of success? Of failure? And how do you rate yourself in these two categories? What makes you better than any other candidate I can hire? I'm sure that there were some policies in your previous companies that you didn't agree with. . . . How did you handle those? What kind of people do you hang out with? Tell me a joke. How would you describe your personality? We're a very aggressive organization here. You seem to be a fairly laid-back, rather quiet person. How do you get along with very aggressive folks? On a personal level, what would your previous boss or present boss say about you? What was it like for you growing up? Have you ever had to overcome any personal hardships? If you were to invite three famous people to dinner, whom would you invite? If you were me, what question should I ask that you really don't want to answer? Do you like me as a person? Describe a situation where you personally or professionally failed.How do you rank yourself personally and professionally among your peers? Do you have personal and professional goals? Who is your greatest personal mentor? What is the biggest personal mistake you have ever made? How did you get your last job? What do you do in your spare time? What do you think about yourself is most important to us? Tell me about a business experience where you had to decide to either lead or to follow. What choice did you make and how did it turn out? Tell me about the last time one of your subordinates made a big mistake. What did you do? What have you done to implement improvements in your work group organization? Describe how you make decisions. We all have times when we are very proud of what we've accomplished but sometimes we don't receive the recognition we think we should. Tell me about a time that this has happened to you and how you dealt with it. Describe a situation where you demonstrated a high level of commitment to an organization where you worked. What have you done in the past that has demonstrated a high level of personal integrity? What was the last creative idea that you came up with that affected the group or company that you now work for? How did you come up with the idea? Do You Work Well with Others?How do you deal with people whom you don't like and who don't like you in the workplace? Describe a very difficult person that you had to work with and how you handled it. Have you ever gotten personally involved or socially close to anyone at your work? We play a lot of poker (golf, tennis, bowling, etc.) are around here. Are you any good at it? Tell me about a time when you practiced diplomacy when communicating with another person or group. Sometimes we have to bring conflict out into the open and other times we avoid it or sacrifice our own needs in order to placate others. Tell me about when you've had to make a choice like this. We all have to deal with "power struggles" or resolve win/lose situations. Tell me about the last time you were involved in such a situation. Describe a time when an external customer tried your patience or tried to get something from you or your company that he or she didn't deserve—maybe not outright cheat, but close to it. How did you handle it and what did you do? Describe a time when an internal customer tried your patience. Priorities constantly change in our firm. Recurring challenges and limitations to resources push us really hard. Often it is hard to maintain a positive attitude, and the department gets emotionally down. Has this ever happened to you and how would you deal with it? How This Affects YouAre You a Risk?Are You Going to Be a Long-Term Employee or Will You Leave Quickly?Why do you want to leave where you are? Or, why did you leave your last position? Gee whiz, you have sure stayed short periods of time in your last three jobs. What's wrong? You've been the president of a firm (or the owner of your own firm). How do we know that you know how to work for someone else and that you will take direction? This position with our company requires a college degree and I noticed on your resume you only state that you attended college but it didn't say you graduated? Why did you quit? This position is one or two levels below the ones you have had in the past. How do we know we won't hire you and then in six or seven months someone calls you with a position like that and you leave? Why did you leave your last job so abruptly? Or why do you want to leave your current job? How do I know you won't do the same here?Where do you see yourself five years from now? Or how does this job fit into your career goals? If you inherited a lot of money, say $2 or $3 million, what would you do? You are awfully young for this position, aren't you? I'm afraid that, in building your career, you would only stay with us for a short period of time. You are awfully young for this position, aren't you? You will be older than anyone else here. How does that make you feel? You will be younger than anyone else here. How does that make you feel? You live a long way from here. It will take you 45 (or 1 hour or 1.5 hours) minutes to get to work one way. With the price of gas, as well as your time, after a while you might lose enthusiasm for the job. Were you ever denied a pay raise, got a poor performance review, or were passed up for a promotion? What did you do? This job and this company are real big risks. We don't know how long we're going to be able to make it. What do you think? Your resume shows that you been with one company a long time without any appreciable increase in rank or salary. Tell me about this.When do you expect a promotion? When do you plan on retiring? How long will you stay with us if you are hired? Or, how do I know that you will stay with us for a reasonable period of time to be effective? How Much of a Liability Might You Be?Were you fired? And, why were you fired? How much time did you take off last year? Have you ever had personal financial difficulties? If a personal commitment conflicts with a business emergency, what do you do? If you could start your career over again, what would you do differently? Have you ever been asked in any of your jobs to do something unethical? How did you handle it? Do you object to honesty or psychological testing? What do you think about_(any controversial issue, i.e., politics, religion, anything in news that might be controversial)?How would you describe your personal character? How would you describe your own personality? Have you ever been involved in a lawsuit? Business or personal?What will your boss say when you resign? Will he or she be upset?Can we contact your references, present/former employers? Knowing what you know about the job you are interviewing for, what are the things that you're going to dislike the most? What is the least relevant job that you had? Sometimes people stretch the truth or don't tell the truth in order to protect themselves or their organization. Have you ever found it necessary to do this? What Kind of Worker Will You Be?What are the reasons for your success in this profession? What is your energy level like? Describe one of your typical days. Why do you want to work here? What kind of personal experience, outside of work, do you have for this job? Have you done the best work you are capable of doing? Tell me how you moved up through the organization. Can you work under pressure? Tell me about the most pressure situation you were in. Describe the most difficult problem you had to deal with. What have you done that shows initiative? How do you manage to interview while still employed? What kinds of decisions are most difficult for you? What area of your skills/professional development you want to improve at this time? Why should I hire an outsider when I could fill the job with someone inside the company? Do you set goals for yourself? How do you organize yourself for day-to-day activities? What interests you most about this job? What can you do for us that someone else cannot do? How long have you been looking for another position? What do you think of your current/last boss? What would you do when you have a great deal of work to accomplish in a short time span? How have you reacted? Tell me about a time when your team fell apart. Why did it happen? What did you do? How did you feel about your workload at that company? And how did you divide your time on your major areas of responsibility? What have you learned from the jobs that you held? What do you know about the position for which you are applying?In your current/last position, state your five most significant accomplishments. After I get to know you, what will annoy me about you? I see you are working on your MBA/graduate degree. What are you going to do when you get it? WOW . . . your grades are really low. What happened? How This Affects YouCan We Work the Money Out?What are you currently earning? Or, what have you been earning most recently? What kind of money would you like to earn? You have been making $XXX,XXX, and the money that is associated with this position is significantly less. How do we know that you will be happy? What is the most money that you have ever made? What do you consider most valuable: a high salary, job recognition, or advancement? What kind of benefits are you expecting? All You Need to Know About Money NegotiationsHow This Affects YouIllegal QuestionsAsking Your Own Questions of Yourself, Your Recruiter, and Your Potential EmployerQuestions to Ask Yourself Even Before the Interviewing ProcessQuestions to Ask Yourself Before You Begin to Look for a Job if You Are EmployedQuestions You Should Ask Yourself Before You Look for a Job if You Are Looking Full TimeQuestions Regarding Your FeelingsQuestions to Ask Yourself About Your Strengths and WeaknessesQuestions to Ask Before the Initial InterviewWhat do I know about the company I'm speaking with? Have I done my research on the company? Do I know anyone in the company? Have I taken good notes about the company to refer to during the interview? What do I know about the person I am interviewing with? Is he or she the hiring authority or an intermediary? Did I "Google" all the individuals? What do I know about them personally? Did I get a copy of the job description before the interview? What makes this company good—or not so good? Does this company have any glaring problems that I should know about? Can I articulate my unique features, advantages, and benefits for this position or the company based on what I know about it? Do I have a list of good questions to ask the interviewer based on the research I have done? Questions to Ask When Working with an External RecruiterQuestions to Ask in the Initial InterviewQuestions to Ask an Internal Recruiter, Human Resources Representative, or Third-Party Internal "Screener"How long have you been here at the company? Why did you come to work here? Why do you like working here? Questions to Ask in a Telephone "Screening" InterviewWhat is your role in the interviewing process? Can you describe the ideal candidate? Is this an addition or a replacement? Why? When would you like to fill the position? Who will be doing the initial interviewing? Questions to Ask When the Interviewer Is the Hiring AuthorityHow long have you been here? What makes this a good company to work for? What was your background before you got here? How long have you been looking for a person? Are there any internal candidates? How many candidates have you interviewed? What are you looking for that you haven't found in the candidates you have interviewed? Is this an addition or a replacement? What are the circumstances?What is the most difficult part of the job? Initial Interview Question MistakesFinal Question in the Initial InterviewQuestions to Ask Related to Subsequent InterviewsWhat is the next person (or groups of persons) I will be interviewing with like? How old is he or she (i.e., what generation in the workforce?) What is his or her role in the company? What is his or her role in the interviewing process? How involved is this person (or group) in the day-to-day function of the job? How has he or she felt about other candidates that you have sent?Does he or she usually agree with your opinions? What is this person going to like or dislike about my experience or background? What have you told him or her about me? How many people is this person going to interview? When will this person get back to you with feedback? How do you stack/rank the candidates? Am I your strongest one? Are you going to recommend me as the best candidate to your superior? How This Affects YouQuestions to Ask Yourself After Each InterviewQuestions to Ask in Interviews Beyond the Initial InterviewQuestions to Ask in One-on-One InterviewsWhat do you think are the most difficult aspects of the job I'm interviewing for? What has been the most difficult challenge in finding the right candidate? How many candidates have you interviewed? Is there anything in my background or experience that needs to be clarified? I understand that the company is considering a merger (acquisition, buyout, etc.). How do you think it will affect the company? Based on our interview, do you have any concerns about my ability to do the job? What is the next step in this process? Questions to Ask in Interviews with Potential PeersHow long have you (or you all) been with the company? What was your background before you got here? What is it like to work here? What are the most difficult aspects of working here or the job itself?How many people have you interviewed for this job? Why haven't they hired anyone yet? Why did you get hired here? What did you do to get the job? Questions to Ask in a Group Interview Beyond the Initial InterviewQuestions to Ask in a "Marathon" Interview SessionQuestions You Can Ask at the Time of an OfferQuestions to Ask the Hiring Authority at the Time of an OfferI understand we are here to discuss an offer, correct? What are your professional and personal expectations of me? Please describe the working environment. What is your management style? What is the management style of your boss and the company? What are your personal plans with the company? How would you describe the philosophy of the company as well as your personal philosophy? How would you describe the culture and values of the company? How would you describe my potential peers? If I were to accept this offer, what can I do when I start to be most effective and contribute to alleviating your biggest problem? What is the percentage of turnover in the company? What is the turnover in this department? How often is the turnover in the job I'm discussing with you? What are the major problems facing the company and this department? What are the traits you see in me that are good for this job and made you want to hire me? Based on what you know of me, what might my weaknesses be in light of this job? Why do you want to hire me? What did I demonstrate to you that the other candidates didn't? Why didn't you hire from within? What aspects of the job or the company am I going to be surprised about? What are the worst aspects of the job? Is the company planning any layoffs or downsizings? How will my success be measured in this job? How is your performance measured? How often? How does that relate to the job I'm considering? What happened to the last person in the job? Is the company seeking to grow? How? Exactly how much travel is involved with the job? Is there relocation now or down the road? How long do you plan to be in your position? With the company? Why have people in the past failed to do well at this job? What are the company's major strengths and weaknesses? What are your personal strengths and weaknesses? Can you explain the organizational structure of the company and of the department? What are the trends in your industry? Does the company have any present or pending legal issues? How is the department perceived by the rest of the company? Are there written goals for the department? Who sets them? How many people have been in this job in the last five years? Where are they now? May I speak with the person who has left or is leaving the job? What would be my access to you? Daily, weekly, monthly? Questions to Ask When the Position Involves ManagementWhy are there no internal candidates for this job? How much authority will I have in running the department (the group, the facility, etc.?) I would like to speak to peers about the position that I am interviewing for. Can we arrange that? Are there any difficult personalities on the staff that I will be supervising? Are there any members of the staff or staffs that should be let go?How are the people in the department going to react to an outsider as a manager? May I speak with the staff I will be managing? What are the biggest problems in the department? What condition is morale in and why? Who are the "problem" employees? Who are the "stars" that can help my transition go smoothly? Are there any of the staff members who are in line for a promotion? Did any of them apply for this job? If I have budgetary responsibility, how large is the budget? Has the department been above or below budget, presently and in the recent past? What kind of reports am I going to be responsible for? Are they internal, company reports, or governmental ones? Does the company plan to make any immediate acquisitions or be acquired or change in any way that might affect the job we are discussing? What is the greatest opportunity facing the company? Its greatest challenge? Questions You Must Ask Yourself When You Get an OfferIf I get two to three years of experience in this job, how have I enhanced my experience for the future? If I get two to three years of experience with this company, will having worked there have been of any value? Can this type of organization help me down the line? Is this organization consistent with the things that I've done in the past? Reference Checking Your Next EmployerEpilogueSome Important Lists for Job HuntersTop Twelve Interview Mistakes Entry-Level Candidates MakeTop Ten Mistakes Candidates Make in an Initial InterviewTop Five Mistakes Candidates Make in Answering Interview QuestionsTop Ten Mistakes That Candidates Make When They Are Invited Back for Subsequent InterviewsTop Ten Mistakes Candidates Make When They Are Told They Are Going to Get an OfferTop Five Mistakes Candidates Make When They Think They Have Been Eliminated After an InterviewAbout the Author
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