Interview Like a Pro: How to improve your odds of getting the job you wantLisa CorneliusCharles Dively
Agenda • Purpose of the interview • What interviewers are seeking • Types of interviews • Preparing for the interview • During the interview • After the interview
Purpose of the Interview • A way for both the employer and the candidate to have an opportunity to exchange information to determine whether the person has the knowledge, skills and ability to perform the functions of the job
Interviewer Concerns • Content Skills: Does candidate have skills necessary to perform job in this field (i.e., management, programming, word processing) • Transferable Skills: Does candidate have skills necessary for handling work: managing, operating, coordination, communicating, etc… • Adaptive Skills: Does candidate have the personality and temperament for this job? Can she/he self-manage (assertiveness, honesty, open-mindedness, flexibility, adaptability, tolerance)
Types of Interviews & Interview Questions • Behavioral • Case interviews • Industry-specific • Open ended questions/self-evaluative questions • On site, telephone, videoconference
Behavioral Interviews • Behavioral interviewing is based on the principle that the best indicator of your future performance is your past performance: “Tell me about a time that you had to find a creative solution to a problem” “Tell me about a time your work was criticized”
Case Interviews • A case interview is the analysis of a specific problem or question • Demonstrates your ability to work through cases similar to those you might face • Each case typically lasts between five and ten minutes • Often scenario-based problem-solving activities designed to discover competencies
Open-Ended Questions and Self-Evaluative Questions • Questions will be open-ended: • You control the content • Provide examples/substantiate • How you answer can be revealing • “Tell me about yourself” Used frequently at the beginning of interview • “What kind of manager are you?” • “How good are your analytical skills?”
“How Would You” Questions • These questions are used to demonstrate you have done the job or you have a very good idea how to approach the work • Think about the job before hand • Identify the 5-10 most critical elements or work activities (interview a job holder if necessary) • Prepare your answer • How would you create a work schedule for 50 people? • How would you ensure that vacation schedules are fair and allow for adequate coverage? • How would you cut the budget by 5%?
BEFORE THE INTERVIEW • PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!! • Know thyself • Research the employer, job, function, etc. • Get a copy of the position description • Find out who is on the interview panel • Prepare questions for interviewer • Prepare references • Logistics (time, date, location…)
Before the Interview • You should • Make an accomplishment log • Research the unit you are interviewing • Write questions you want to ask the interviewer • Check out Mapquest and the DOT road construction site • All of the above
Prepare: Know Thyself • You must PREPARE yourself to talk about your skills and capabilities intelligently and persuasively Successful candidates know how to showcase their … experience and how it relates to the specific job on their resume and in the interview to demonstrate to employers that they have a strong work ethic, for example, or the necessary teamwork skills. It can set them apart from their competition
Prepare: Know Thyself • Know your resume! • Be able to articulately discuss every item on the resume • Be prepared to provide more detail about any item on the resume • Make sure your resume is up to date. More than 1 page is okay, 10 pages is not!
SKILLS Ability to work together as a team member Ability to analyze data Ability to act independently Specialized skills ACCOMPLISHMENTS I am frequently requested to be team member due to my ability to facilitate discussions and resolve conflicts. A few projects I worked on include: Make a list for yourself Prepare: Make an Accomplishment Log
Prepare: Practice • Write out answers • Practice out loud • Schedule mock interview • Tape record yourself • Practice with friends
Prepare: References • Line up your references several weeks prior to interviews • Take a list of references and contact information with you, in case interviewer asks for them • Better still have reference letters with you • Make absolutely certain the reference KNOWS you’ve given his/her name
Preparation: Logistics • The day before the interview • Review where the interview will be held • Check “Mapquest” to see how long it takes you to get there • Check the MNDOT website to check for road construction and delays • Allow an extra 20 minutes to get to your destination
Dr. Joyce Brown, a noted psychologist suggest people use “square breathing” to relax Breathe in for 3 seconds, hold for 3 seconds exhale for 3 seconds, repeat Do this before the interview starts Relax: A Three Step Process for Stress Reduction
Attire and Appearance • First impressions count! • Well groomed, showered, hair in-control • Suit, conservative colors, well-fitting, comfortable, pressed, clean • No strong perfume/cologne, no flashy jewelry, etc…
Prepare: Questions to Ask • Interviewing is reciprocal • Prepare educated questions that are: • Genuine and honest • Not too pushy • Do not ask questions about salary, personal issues, or uninformed questions • Instead, ask about the challenges facing the manager and determine how you can contribute
Questions to Avoid in the First Interview? • What are the hours? • How much does it pay? • Are you flexible on the hours?
Interview Do’s • Arrive early/on time • Bring copies of resume • Bring pen/paper • Wear something professional • Be enthusiastic - Match your energy level to the interviewer’s • Listen carefully • Take a few moments to think about your response • Get interviewer’s business card • Maintain good eye contact
Interview Don’ts • Don’t chew gum or suck on candy • Don’t make up answers to questions you don’t know or understand. • Don’t badmouth current or former supervisors • Don’t fidget (watch nervous habits) • Watch “Ummms” • Don’t be late!
Be on Time • Arrive about 10 minutes before interview • Being late is a HUGE red flag • Don’t be TOO early – might inconvenience the interviewer • If too early prepare for interview
What to Expect • Introductions and handshake • Written questions read to you • Interviewer may provide brief overview of position or unit • You respond to questions (if it is a good interview, this is the longest part) Most interviews last 30-60 minutes • You ask questions of the interviewer • Interviewer closes the interview and gives you information about next steps - tells you when a decision will be made • Thank the interviewer for his/her time
PAR or STAR Technique • Use this method to frame your response in an organized manner • Problem (Situation/Task) • Action • Result
PAR Example “Tell me about a time you were on a team and a member wasn’t contributing?” (P) I was assigned to work on a project with a team of 5 others. One our our team members wasn’t completing his assignments. (A) I finally met with him in private, and asked if there was anything I could do to help. He told me he was preoccupied with a personal problem, so I referred him to his supervisor or HR, or EAP. (R)He not only was able to spend more time on our project, but he was also grateful to me for helping him out. We finished the project on time.
Strategies for Specific Questions“Run me through your resume” • Start with college and work forward, outlining your employment history, graduate studies, key accomplishments and transitions • Should take no more than 2-4 minutes • Be prepared to answer more in depth if asked • Highlight the activities and prior positions most applicable to the job in question and relevant skills
“Why are you interested in this job?” • Hopefully you’ve done your homework • The interviewer wants to know why you are interested in their business versus anyplace else • Go beyond the superficial (reputation, industry leader) and demonstrate you’re a good candidate (emphasize your skills and interests and how they relate specifically to this person or group) • Show you know a lot about the employer and the job
“Where would you like to be in five years?” • Usually asked to determine whether you plan to stick with the organization • Describe new experiences you'd like to add in the future building on the job for which you are applying • Avoid mentioning specific job titles • “My interest is to grow with [THAT UNIT]
Sell Yourself • Market your brand (Your strengths) • Make sure the interviewers understand what you have to offer • Keep in mind which key points you want to convey and make sure that information gets emphasized
Listen to the Employer • Listen to the interviewer and make sure you understand his/her questions – ask them to repeat if necessary • Practice active listening skills (acknowledge, pay attention, make eye contact, etc…) • Don’t be defensive when asked tough questions
AFTER THE INTERVIEW • Evaluate/take notes • Send a thank you letter/email • Follow-up • Don’t be slow - do it immediately
Evaluate • Take a few moments to evaluate your performance • Write down the questions you were asked • Consider where you need improvement
Thank You Note • Thank interviewer once again for his/her time • Restate your interest in the position • Mention any facts you may have omitted • On white paper no pastels, no flowers or puppies
Follow-Up • If it is after the time when the interviewer indicated he/she would follow up: • Call or email to inquire as to status of job • Reiterate interest
IMPORTANT REMINDER • If you do not TALK about your experience DURING the interview, the interviewer cannot score your work experience. No matter how qualified you are! 10
5 Biggest Mistakes • Not being prepared before the interview. Not enough practice! • Stressing out so your strengths can’t shine through • Not answering the questions thoroughly enough to articulate your knowledge, skills and abilities • Not asking questions to show you really want that job! • Not following up after the interview
Question • The biggest mistake that people make in an interview • Not dressing appropriately • Arriving late for the interview • Not answering the question completely