You got an interview, now what?

Contributed by:  HRN Performance Solutions 

What an Interviewer Wants to Hear

Admit it!  Being unemployed is just difficult, no matter whether you were downsized, merged, acquired or fired!  But, being unhappy in a job you don’t like is just as bad.  So you begin the process of constant searching, sending and sighing!  From job boards to online applications to social network sites . . . the fun just never ends!  But then, one day, you get that phone call or e-mail you have been waiting for.  You got an interview!  Now, what?

The first step is to educate yourself on the company.  Research their website and learn as much as you can about the people and the products or services they provide.  If the company mission and vision are accessible, become familiar with those too, since these can tell you what direction the company is desirous of heading and how they plan to get there.  It also lets you know what is important to the organization’s success, so that you can match your skills (if they really do match) to their goals to determine the value you can bring to their table. 

The goal of interviewing is not just to determine if you are interested in the job.  That’s important, but also you need to know if this is a company for which you wish to work.  A recent survey released by polled 1,000 United Kingdom workers and found that 70% say that friends at work are extremely important.  The survey cited 55% stated money was most important.  But, for employers who build satisfying work environments, they will be happy to know that productivity is likely to increase.  The survey noted that 65% of the polled individuals said that happiness in their jobs made them more productive.  As you can see, it is crucial to find the right fit!

Interviewers want to see that you have expended some energy in preparing for the interview.  Spend some time thinking about your knowledge, skills, abilities, and experiences.  Behavioral interviewing has become very common and is still used often, so past experiences will be of value to you now, not just the warm fuzzy kind, but the negative ones as well.  Decide how these experiences have served you personally and in your field and what you learned.  Use them to determine ways in which you dealt with co-workers, whether up or down the ladder, how you saved the company money or time and how much, how you managed projects efficiently, and what new skills you acquired.  Try to be specific, but not too wordy.  Answer their questions, and be careful not to stray off topic.  Be prepared to answer why and how you left your previous companies and be ready to explain any gaps in your employment history. 

One more thing . . . know what you will ask the interviewer!  When you are asked if you have any questions, be ready!  The interviewer will take note of what you ask and how well thought out your questions are.  This gives them insight as to what is important to you and whether you are looking for a position to grow with or if their company is just a stepping stone in your career path. Now is probably not the time to ask WIIFM (“What’s in it for me?”) questions, but rather try to ask about the company and the job challenges you may face if selected. 

Some possible questions that will strike a chord with the interviewer would be:

  • “What challenges do you think the new person in this position would face in the first 30 days?”
  • “How will success in this position be measured?”
  • “What would you say are the characteristics of a top performer in your organization?”
  • “What kind of culture do you foster?”
  • “Does the company support professional growth and education?”
  • “When do you expect to make a hiring decision?”
  • Any other relevant questions you can think of!

And, last but not least, you need to follow-up the interview with a “Thank You” note.  It should express your appreciation for interviewer’s time and for the information you now have about the position for which you interviewed.  If you are convinced this is the company and position for you, tactfully let them know you are very interested in the job.  This communicates to the interviewer that you would like to be seriously considered for the position.

No matter what your motivation is for looking for a job, good, solid preparation is truly key to a successful interview.  Not only will the company be deciding whether you are a fit for them, you can decide if the company is a fit for you.  Maybe you will soon hear, “Hi!  We’d like to offer you the position!”

Posted in Advocacy News, Around the NW.