Posted on June 25, 2012 by Bob Corlett
Great candidates often choke under the pressure of interviews. Among well-qualified candidates, at least a third (and maybe half) of all interviews are ruined by self-inflicted wounds–preventable mistakes that a job seeker could have avoided with better preparation. An interview is a “make or break” moment in your career, and far too many people handle it badly.
So, assuming you are being interviewed for a job that fits your qualifications, why won’t you get it?
- You walked in lightly informed, but not well informed. You spent about an hour preparing for the interview, but you should have spent three. So you could not relate your experience to their needs, because you did not yet understand their needs. Insufficient preparation is the biggest interview killer, and it causes the next two major mistakes.
- You did not directly and forthrightly answer their questions. You did not think about what kinds of questions you would be asked, and you did not prepare clean, concise, authentic answers to their predictable questions. So you ended up talking too much and saying too little. This is the second biggest killer of interviews. (And here’s what you can do about it).
- Finally, when given a chance, you asked the wrong questions. You did not demonstrate curiosity about the organization, their challenges, or how you could help. Your questions were either simplistic, dull, or all about you. Asking, “Do you have flex-time?” will not endear you to the hiring manager. You can always ask those kinds of questions after you get the job offer. Before you get the job offer, you want to be asking questions about how you can make a significant impact on the job … giving them a reason to hire you. Curiosity is the one attribute that smart employers look for, but job seekers rarely demonstrate.
Filed under: Interview Advice | Tagged: company research, Interviewing | 2 Comments »
Posted on March 26, 2012 by Bob Corlett
One of our most popular posts was on “How to Introduce Yourself to a Search Firm.” But what happens when you have already been contacted by a search firm and are going on an interview with one of their clients?
What is the etiquette for working with the search firm? What is expected of you? What can you expect from them?
Some firms may differ, but in general these are the expectations:
- Before the Interview: The search firm will give you the date, time and location of the interview, and usually parking information and/or the closest metro stop. The search firm will usually give you the name and title of everyone you are expecting to meet, and how long the interview is expected to last (but of course good interviews often run overtime). Your role: Your job is to research the people and the company, and to write down at least a dozen intelligent questions you would like to ask. (Hint: “Do you have Dental insurance?” is not an intelligent question). To arrive to an interview without preparing questions in advance is a breach of etiquette and for many interviewers, is an automatic strikeout. If you cannot think of what to ask, simply ask your search firm contact for some ideas, or see our post on how to research a company.
- Traveling to the Interview: Be sure you estimate your travel time properly and to bring the phone number for both the search firm, and the person you are meeting with. Your role: Your role is to leave ample time for traffic and to arrive 10 minutes early. Late is simply unacceptable for a first impression. If you are going to be even one minute late, etiquette requires you to call ahead to the person you are going to meet, and to apologize again when you arrive. An astonishing number of interviews have been ruined by ignoring this simple point of etiquette. If you might be late, don’t hope for the best, just make the call at least ten minutes before your interview time. The benefit is that once you’ve made the call, you can relax. (You can always try calling the search firm as a backup plan, but bear in mind that they will likely be in another meeting and not available on short notice.)
- During the Interview: Your role is to give crisp, clear, concise answers to most questions. On a first interview, the hiring manager usually has to cover a lot of ground, so don’t get bogged down in protracted answers in any one area. Practice your answers, so you can keep them to about 3 minutes or less. (Read more about the STAR method of answering questions here). Your search consultant will be able to brief you on the kinds of topics that will be covered, but they really should not be coaching you on how to answer specific questions.
- After the Interview: Most search firms want to hear from you right after the interview concludes. In my experience, candidates are rarely able to judge how it went, so typically we ask whether you are interested in proceeding to the next step if it is offered, and whether the hiring manager mentioned any next steps. Your role: contact your search consultant immediately following the interview. Don’t make them call you to get feedback. Hiring managers always want to know your level of interest, and it’s embarrassing to your search consultant when they don’t know where you stand because you did not contact them. (Remember, we have no idea what time your interview actually ended, so we can’t call you).
- Delicate issues: As the third party in the conversation, your search consultant should be able to address any difficult questions for you. Do you need to see a copy of the company benefits? Do you want to find out what happened to a prior employee in this role? Are you concerned that it seems like the department has a lot of turnover? What kind of salary are they considering? Your search consultant can look into these issues for you, or suggest how you might diplomatically raise these points with the hiring manager.
Filed under: Interview Advice, Working with a Recruiter | Tagged: company research, Executive Search, Interviewing, Recruiters, recruiting, salary negotiation | Leave a Comment »
Posted on July 28, 2011 by Brooke Corlett
Want to avoid your hiring manager’s biggest pet peeve? Do your research on the company before you set foot in an interview. Hiring managers get frustrated by candidates who don’t know the company, its mission, products, history, competitors, strategic goals or big news stories.
Karen Siwak, at Resume Confidential, says “Jobseekers, there is no excuse.” And not knowing how to research the company isn’t a valid excuse either, because Karen gives us 15 great tips for how to look up many aspects of the company. (You can also read Bob’s advice for researching your boss on Linkedin).
Here are five great ones:
- “Read everything you possibly can on the company website.” Toggle around all of the different tabs.
- “Google the company name” – Who knows what articles you might find?!
- “Toggle on the NEWS tab” of Google – Look for press releases, financial reports, etc. over various time frames.
- “Search the company name together with the title of your target position.”
- “Use http://www.glassdoor.com to research the company culture.”
Filed under: Interview Advice | Tagged: company research, Interviewing | 1 Comment »