Sunday, June 6, 2010

Insider tips on interviews

Recruitment consultants from Tanner Menzies offer their interview tips for candidates.

Interviews are an integral part of your job search. They should not be viewed as adversarial, one-sided interrogation during which an interviewer mercilessly questions you. Rather, it should be perceived as a forum which facilitates the exchange of information in an interactive conversational manner.


* Organise your clothes for the interview in advance. Remember to dress conservatively — suitable to the culture of the company and the image you wish to project.
* Assemble relevant information beforehand (eg documentation, qualifications.
* Understand your remuneration package.
* Research the company (using published materials and contacts) so that you are able to ask "intelligent questions".
* Interviewers often seek practical examples of past behaviour, which help demonstrate your competencies. You should be prepared to share examples of achievements or past behaviours. Ensure you describe the situation, the action you took and the results or outcomes of your action.


Be on time!

This means not only don't be late, but don't be early, and don't arrive with "baggage". If you walk in carrying unnecessary items, you may give the wrong first impression. Smile. Make eye contact and give a firm handshake.

Interviewers frequently use "small talk" to break the ice. Follow the interviewers lead on this, but don't initiate a lot of small talk yourself. This could set the wrong tone.
Interview structure

No two styles of interviewing are the same. Go with the flow, but remember that interviewers value such qualities as:

* Warmth
* Brevity
* Honesty (never lie)
* Rapport
* Energy
* Enthusiasm
* Clear communication

Normally, the interviewer gets information from you and then tells you about the position. However, this order of doing things varies form one interviewer to the next.

If you feel your body language is conveying anxiety, it is usually best to verbalise it. (For example, "I haven't interviewed in years and I'm a little surprised to find myself nervous"). Verbalising your nervousness often reduces it and interviewers are usually empathetic.

Article index

* Preparation
* Arrival
* Interview structure
* Follow up
* Common traps

Closing the interview

Prepare pertinent questions to ask towards the end of the interview. Some examples include:

* Is it a new or existing position?
* What are the responsibilities and priorities?
* What are the reporting relationships?
* What resources are accessible to the position?
* What is the criteria for measuring success?
* What is the next step?
* What long term career opportunities are available?

Don't initiate any discussion about remuneration at the first interview. However be open and honest if the interviewer asks.

Ask (if you haven't been told) what the process will be after the interview has been completed.

Have a couple of positive comments to make that recap some of the highlights of the conversation. Reiterate your strengths. If you are genuinely interested, say so. Leave the interviewer with a good impression — smile. Firm handshake. Don't blow it by relaxing too soon.

Verbalising your nervousness often reduces it and interviewers are usually empathetic.
Follow up

Immediately after the interview, write a follow-up letter regardless of how you think the interview went. The letter should be brief, relevant and:

* Express appreciation of time and opportunity.
* Recap/emphasise salient points.
* Add points you didn't cover.
* Reiterate/elaborate how you can contribute.
* Express interest in continuing dialogue.

If you have been asked to send further information, ensure this is done quickly and efficiently.
Common traps

* Being too friendly.
* Not listening to questions carefully.
* Saying "we" instead of referring to your own achievements.
* Making very general statements which lack substance.
* Being over enthusiastic.
* Being poorly prepared.
* Slouching, mumbling, speaking slowly.
* Knowing nothing about the company to whom you are talking.
* Making derogatory remarks about your present or former employers.

Remember, not all positions you are applying for will be right for you. The purpose of the interview is to help you (as well as the company) sort out if the "fit" is right. Remain positive.

Copy supplied by Tanner Menzies

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