Interview Tips and Questions, part 1

Interview Tips and Questions, part 1

contributed by Dr. Stephen Bangert

Is an interview in your future?  How prepared are you?

Most people find interviewing emotionally charged, and approach it with some fear.

What about you?  Naturally, like most people, you may have some reservations or concerns.

Let’s address such concerns by analyzing the interview process.  You will be speaking to a person representing a company that has a corporate need; and this person will be asking questions to determine whether you have the skills, drive and style that will likely prove effective.  You, in turn, as the candidate, must understand these corporate needs and respond to their questions conveying that you have the experience and competencies they seek.

It sounds rather simple.  And to some degree it is.  But make no mistake….

Interviewing is much more than telling.  Interviewing is selling.

Selling is more than words, more than conveying information.  It is responding to a question with energy and confidence in a way that tells your story, that conveys your message visually, verbally and by content.

Selling also requires connecting the dots from time to time.  That is, don’t assume that the interviewer will fully understand what you as saying; help them by linking your skills and experience with the identified corporate needs.

So are you ready to test your selling ability?  Do so by responding to these questions, then compare with the sample response.

1.         Why did you send me your resume?

 Suggestions: Emphasize what you can do for them verses what you want from them.  Shape your response along the lines of: “I sent my resume with the belief that my skills of A, B and C along with my experience of X, Y and Z would prove a valuable resource to your company.”

Example: “I sent you my resume, highlighting my technical talents in IT along with my managerial experience, confident that you would see me as a valuable resource.  Allow me to be more specific as I learn more about your immediate needs.”

2.         Tell me about yourself…

Suggestion: It is tempting, with such a question, to tell your life story.  Resist this temptation.  Respond with a quick overview highlighting your skills and accomplishments, and flavor with a comment about your style and personality.

Example: “My career is a balance between the technical and managerial.  Early in my career I focused on providing technical solutions to business problems, and more recent providing solid leadership in the re-engineering of the IT department.  Beyond my many skills and experience, I believe my success is due largely to my ability to quickly engage others, motivate team members and clearly communicate.”

3.         How can you help us?

Suggestion: If there are identifiable corporate needs, than address them; if not, then be careful not to go out on a limb saying you can do certain things that may not interest them. Rather turn the question and response from what you CAN do, to what you HAVE done.

Example: “Not knowing the particulars of your current situation, allow me to share with you some recent successes which are representative of my talents. (give an example and quantify) With that said, may I ask how that begins to address your needs?”

4.         What are your strengths?

Suggestion: Be selective of your many strengths and choose three or four that directly relate to the position or identified corporate needs.  Sometimes a mere listing of skills has high impact and is most effective.  Yet, be prepared to expand and give examples if prompted.

Example: “Three strengths or skills quickly come to mind; namely, 1, 2 and 3. (pause) I mention these particular skills or strengths because they have served me well throughout my career and, I believe, would prove valuable to your company as you address issues of A, B and C.”

5.         What are your weaknesses?

Suggestion: Minimize your response.  Even though they might have ask for “weaknesses”, give them just one at a time.  Make it realistic yet don’t give them ammunition to fire back at you.  Mention some “weakness” that in a different context might be considered a strength.

Example: “I’m tenacious and I hate to give up, yet I do realize the value and cost of time and the importance of not taking such decisions as a personal failure.”

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