Thursday, February 15, 2007

How to Ace a Job Interview

Althought the article lists 88 surefire things here are some highlights:

The Interview

A lot of what gains you points in an interview is your behavior. They already have your resume. They want to know about you.

Interview Opener

  1. Wait for the handshake. The rules of a handshake have changed as more women have entered the workforce. Normally, two men should shake firmly. Beyond that, you'll have to use your judgement. Don't crush a person's hand. Practice with male and female friends.

  2. Keep standing. Don't sit until you are directed to. There may be other people participating in the interview and it's best to show that you are "open to direction."

  3. Make a good first impression and maintain it. Mirroring is a powerful technique if used subtly, no matter the interviewer's mood.

Interview Dos

  1. Maintain eye contact. Look the interviewer in the eye without staring. Not doing so is often perceived as shiftiness not shyness.

  2. Be succinct. Don't be a Chatty Cathy; don't tell your life story. Give a bit of detail instead of just "yes" and "no".

  3. Nod your head. But don't over do it. It shows you are attentive and amenable to being managed. Women are more likely to nod than men, so men should practice more.

  4. Ask for clarification. You may be attentive, but if you don't understand something, politely ask for clarification.

  5. Ask questions. Ask about the culture at the company and any general questions that an interviewer has not mentioned yet.

  6. Be flexible. Even dream jobs have uninteresting tasks that must get done. Don't wrinkle your nose at a list of tasks. And say you're willing to learn if you don't know how to do something.

  7. Ask about your role. You could be interviewed for multiple positions, despite what the job description you applied to indicated. Ask what positions you're being considered for.

  8. Ask about your team. Ask how many people you'd be working with and what they do. Ask if there's anyone internally that is applying for the job.

  9. Ask about the last person. Ask why the last person left the position, or if it's a new one. If the interviewer hesitates, back off. If they answer anyway, they'll probably respect you for asking.

  10. Ask about future opportunities. Is there room for growth? Asking shows that you're career-minded, and that you might stay long-term.

Interview Don'ts

  1. Don't ask about salary benefits first. Let the interviewer bring it up. Typically, this is discussed towards the end, and usually if they're interested in you.

  2. Don't fidget. It's often perceived as a sign of untrustworthiness.

  3. Don't mumble. Speak clearly and enunciate your words. This should be part of your pre-interview practice with friends.

  4. Don't be intimidated. Be confident without being arrogant.

  5. Don't lie in the interview. A skilled interviewer can "read" an applicant.

  6. Don't show off or overact. Just be yourself, but don't be overly effusive.

  7. Don't hit on your interviewer. Seriously, you're in an interview, not a nightclub.

  8. Don't complain about someone. Be positive.

  9. Don't seem needy. Sure, you need a job, but if you act like it, you probably won't get it.

Interview Other

  1. Remember what it's about. Think "what's in it for them", not just "what's in it for me". Both parties have to benefit.

  2. Be prepared to be tested. You might be asked to prove, say, your computer programming skills with a small quiz on basic principles of coding. Interviews for other industries might include similar testing.

Closer and Post Interview

The end of the interview is just as crucial to getting a job, as is what you do afterwards.

  1. Know your availability. An interviewer may ask when you can start. Don't be afraid to say that you have a vacation scheduled, etc., or that you can start immediately.

  2. Be flexible on salary. When asked what you're expecting, a good answer for a new grad is that you're hoping for at least fair entry level wages, with performance bonuses. You might even say that you're willing to accept stock options, especially at a startup.

  3. Ask for the job. If the interview goes well and you think you want to work there, ask for the job. Say something like, "Well this sounds like a very interesting job and I'd love to work here." Do this when they offer their handshake goodbye. If they like you, you'll be asked back for a second interview, or you might get offered the job right there.

  4. Say thank you. Thank the interviewer and the receptionist, etc.

  5. Be patient, part 2. As you're leaving, ask about the selection process and when you might hear back. If there's more than one position, you might hear back sooner. You might get more than one interview, but that may require sign-off from someone on vacation.

  6. Follow up on each interview. Experts offer differing opinions on this. If in doubt, call reception and ask their suggestions, especially if you haven't heard back within two weeks.

  7. Keep an interview log. It'll help you track the state of each application (sent application, pending interview, interview complete, followed up, rejected, etc.). Include dates.

  8. Keep learning. An advanced degree may help your career, but you can also learn without returning to school. Many large universities are offering their courses free online. Also check the Open Courseware Consortium.

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