TMK INC. | Candidates Ten Steps to a Successful Interview

Find out what they want before you start selling. If they do not begin by describing the responsibilities of the position and the background, experience or attributes that would be ideal, ask! Make sure you understand what is important to each interviewer about the position before you get into detail about your background, skills and experience.

Your objective during the interview is to secure an offer. You can always decide later if this is the best offer and the right opportunity, but in order to have that latitude you need to get the offer first. If anything comes up during the interview that may be an issue, just make a note. You can then address any concerns with your Staffing Representative after the interview. Don't turn off in the interview! In most cases, any issues you might have concerning the opportunity can be resolved.

Attitude and interest are important. People want to hire others that are interested in coming to work for their company and have a positive and upbeat attitude. Approach the interview with the right attitude.

Research the company. Little things set you apart from others. Do your homework and find out about the company. A good resource is a company's Web site. There you can learn more about their history, structure, products and services. Proper preparation will be evident during an interview. More importantly, this research allows you to make a more informed decision regarding the opportunity.

Be prepared to ask the RIGHT questions. Most interviewers will give you the chance to ask them questions about the position or the company. This is your opportunity to show them that you came prepared. Asking pointed, informed questions shows your interest in the position. Here are several suggestions:

  • What are two or three characteristics that your company would consider unique or attractive about itself?
  • What do you find interesting and exciting about working there?
  • What are some of the common attributes that exist in successful employees of this company?
  • Can you tell me a little bit about your background and how long you've been with the company?
  • How did this position come available and how long has it been open?

Don't ask the WRONG questions. Don't ask about vacation or sick time. Don't ask about benefits. This information will be provided to you later and is not appropriate during an interview. Asking these questions gives the impression that those issues are the most important to you.

Money! This is where a great interview can go bad. When the company asks you what you are looking for in compensation, DO NOT give a specific dollar amount. This is a no win situation.

If you say $38K and they had planned to bring someone in at say $42K, your offer will most likely be $38K. Conversely, if you say $45K and they had only planned on $42K, they may not make you an offer and rule you out as a viable candidate even though you would have seriously considered an offer at $42K given the other attributes of the opportunity.

The proper and appropriate way to answer the question about money is to say, Mr./Ms. Employer, I am currently making (your present compensation), however what is most important to me is the opportunity and the company. Based on what you have shared with me so far, I am really interested in this opportunity. If you are interested in me, I would like to entertain your strongest offer.

If that answer does not satisfy them and they press you for a number, present them a dollar RANGE you would consider.

Keep your responses to questions to the point. Don't ramble. Answer the question and stop. Most interviewers have a number of preset questions they wish to cover in a limited amount of time. Don't blow it by being verbose in your responses.

You can use specific examples in your responses but don't do the "shuck –n jive." In other words, if you don't know something, say so. You can qualify your answer by mentioning other skills or experience that you know are similar.

Interviewers respect someone who is straight about what they know and what they don't.

Be prepared with professional references. Be prepared with a clean, type-written sheet that includes reference names, phone numbers and your relationship with each person. The best reference is a former supervisor, so it is best to include at least one person who has been your direct manager in a previous position.

Not every interviewer will request that you provide references on the spot, but it is always in your best interest to come prepared.

Send a thank you note. Get the interviewer's business card and send a personal note thanking them for their time and reinforcing your interest. An e-mail note is also appropriate.

Phone Interviews What happens if you are being interviewed by phone? The tips dealing with preparation, attitude and focus of the conversation still apply. It also helps to make sure you are at a place where you can talk freely. If you are at home, make sure the TV or radio is turned down and there are no distractions or background noise. You want to be focused and be able to hear and have them be able to clearly hear you.

Finally, when you finish your interview, call your Staffing Representative and debrief. It helps to talk through an interview and many times, by discussing what transpired, you can improve for the next one.

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