Interviews can be unsettling if you don’t have the experience or you haven’t had to interview with a company in a long time.  Yet, Interviews do not have to be unsettling or even difficult, interviews are basically a conversation with a purpose.  And, that purpose is for each side to want to risk their careers or business a little on both sides of the table.  A bad hire can affect a business and a bad position or company and affect the job-seeker.  To make sure both sides are happy, please consider the following five interview tips.

In this article, I am leaving out other tips you should know on the interviewee side.  Items like, dress well, be properly groomed, make a good impression, being on time, and extending thanks the interviewers.  These items should already be common knowledge, if they aren’t study up on them in other posts that will be coming soon on the site.

1.      Research

You should do your research, know who you are interviewing with, whether you are the job seeker or whether you are the hiring manager.  Take a bit of time to look over the resume and do a quick search on all the people involved.

For the Job seeker, understand the position, understand the operation and general structure of the company.  If they sell automotive components, do the research on those components and how they fit against their competitors.  Try to understand their “pain” points in conducting business.  Their struggle in the market and pocket some ideas that may be brought up in the interview or follow up questions on their strategy.

For the hiring manager, try to understand the candidate.  Do a quick search, via LinkedIn look for specific points or flags in their resume you want answered.  Look at the companies the candidate has worked for in the past.  Try to understand their “pain” point, reasons why they might have left or looking to leave their current company.  You can get a lot of information out of a resume, good or bad, but keep in mind sometimes the best person for the job might have the worst resume.  If you are on the fence schedule a phone call or send a quick e-mail and see how they respond.

2.      Types of Questions Used in the Interview

Most human resource and hiring managers use the STAR method or interviewing. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result.  Sometimes it is called behavioral interviewing or stress interviewing.  Basically, it takes the form of an interviewer asking about a challenging situation at a previous employer or professional setting.  The interviewer wants to know what task you were trying to achieve.  Some will provide a theoretical situation and ask you how you would go about achieving a certain goal.

Next, they will look for what action you took or would take. Interviewers will look for specific information about what steps you took to achieve the goal.  Then they want to know the results, basically the outcome of the actions you took.  Interviewers will also want to know what you learned from the event or situation.  Keep in mind, you can offer answers that had poor results or in which you failed equally to those you succeeded.  Basically, the interviewer wants to know how you think or behave in difficult situations and how you solve problems and deal with situations.  Whether you succeed or not is not as important as how you describe your process and problem solving ability.

Keep in mind, I do not have data about how people treat the answers to the questions or interviews.  I doubt that it is typically a data point, but more of a gut feeling the interviewer has about the answers.  Basically, give the best answer you can provide and study up on your past failures and stressful situations.  Again, this is something we stress on – “know-thyself”.

For the interviewer, keep in mind it is a conversation if you make the interview too stressful or overbearing you could lose the candidate or the candidate could rate your company poorly on websites on Glassdoor and the like.  However, you can still make it interesting enough and keep it both light and still get the same answers.  How you ask the questions, or how you accept the responses by providing lite feedback on the answers on the spot will go a long way.  It seems to me, that some old fashion interviewing techniques can turn people away.  And equally, too lite of an interview might not allow for a good examination of the candidate’s ability or processes.

3.      Practice

Practice.  Yes, I said it, practice. But, what to practice?  Have a friend interview you.  Use a mirror as you deliver you answers.  Pay attention to your body language.  Your answers or questions can make or break an interview if your body language isn’t corresponding to your answers.  Actively listen to the interviewer and interviewee, don’t slouch, chew gum or mumble your answers.  Nonverbal aspects of your interview might carry more weight than your actual answers and resume.

You might want to try various other techniques to insure you will have confidence before going into the interview.  Some people call them power poses.  Power poses can help boost confidence and make you feel more relaxed when you are nervous.  For example, try the superman pose, but your hands on your hips and push your shoulders back and down and hold if for a few seconds.  There are also some TED Talks you can look into as well that could help in “hacking” your body language.  Try this link: Amy Cuddy: Your Body Language shapes who you are.

Practice these poses as well as speaking confidently about typical questions they might ask.  But, also as an interviewee look at your own red flags for the position and practice answering them confidently and tactfully.

4.      Sell Yourself

All moments in your life are micro acts of selling.  You are selling your abilities and professionalism to a prospective client, also that client is selling themselves to you.  If you both agree, you have a sell.  However, ultimately the client has the final say.  But, you should sell yourself the best way possible.  Demonstrate why you are the best fit for the position, or why you would excel in the position. You are being hired to solve a problem, sell them on the idea that you can solve those problems or “pain” points.

5.      Ask Great Questions

After doing your research and practicing, you should have a few questions you would want answered.  But, pass on questions about benefits and salary keep that for the negotiation phase, don’t bring it up there isn’t a rush to get the answer the day of the interview about compensation or other things.  Use the interview as a data set for making up your mind to take the next step or not.  For interviewers, allow the candidate to ask questions and be as transparent as possible.  For the interviewee, don’t just ask simple questions that is answered with a yes or no, ask a more dynamic and insightful questions about something specific.  Or at least make it more upbeat, like asking what is the best part of working her for you.  Or what kind of difficulties does someone have in the first ninety days.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but should offer some good points to get you thinking about how to conduct yourself for an interview and how to prepare yourself.  Whether you get or take the job, keep in mind success and failure is all just practice.

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