Dear SafetyXChange Members,
I was doing some spring cleaning this week, clearing my desk of paper and tchotchkes (Editor's note: pronounced "CHOCH keys," a Yiddish word for bric-a-brac). It was a liberating experience and one I heartily recommend to any of you with cluttered desks. A tidy desk makes you feel as fresh as a spring daffodil!
But I digress. While removing the rubble, I came across something valuable that I had misplaced some months before, a copy of one of my favorite books: 60 Seconds and You're Hired, by Robin Ryan. This one's a classic. It's loaded with concise tips about how to answer tough interview questions and sidestep interview pitfalls. It even tells you how to negotiate a favorable agreement once you land the job, something that reading this book will help you do. If you haven't seen the book, here are some of the highlights.
There are literally thousands of books about interviewing. But Robin's book is different. It turns the usual interview analysis on its head. While most authors break things down from the interviewee's perspective, Robin looks at the process from the other side of the desk. It explains what goes on in the head of the interviewer during an interview.
To be more specific, the book deals with that crucial part of the interview when the interviewer looks at the candidate and asks "Do you have any questions for me?" There's a tendency among applicants to relax and lower their guard at this point. Thinking that the "business end" of the interview is over, the applicant is apt to ask bland, uninspired questions just to make conversation. Or, they might even politely decline the opportunity to ask anything at all.
The Importance of Asking the Right Questions
In fact, the "have-you-got-any-questions-for-me" moment is a crucial part of the interview. It's your best chance to determine if this job, company and boss are right for you.
But, as Robin points out in her book, what you might not realize is that this is also an opportunity to impress the interviewer. As an employer who interviews a lot of job candidates, I know just what Robin is talking about. When I ask you to ask me questions, I'm inviting you to demonstrate that you're really interested in the position and that you're a good match for us. Bungle this opportunity and you're on your way to rejection.
The Right Questions to Ask
If you want to succeed at interviews, you better be prepared to ask your interviewer good questions. First, understand that I'm not looking for questions about salary, benefits, sick leave or the pension program. Those are the kinds of issues we can talk about after you get the offer.
So what should you ask about? Robin lists 37 questions. Here are some to get you started:
- Can you describe your management style and the type of employee that works well with you?
- What are the areas in the job you'd like to see improved?
- How will my leadership responsibilities and performance be measured?
- What is the top priority for this person's first 90 days on the job? (ask this of each person you interview with in a company - you'll learn a lot about the various agendas and perspectives)
- Describe the atmosphere of the office.
- What types of people seem to excel here?
- How would you describe the corporate culture here?
- What goals and objectives need to be achieved in the next six months? One year?
- Would I encounter any co-worker or staff person who's proved to be a problem in the past? If so, can you tell me about the situation?
- Who are the company's most effective vendors? (later you can contact the vendor and get a recommendation on the company)
- As my boss (or colleague, or direct report), how do you prefer to be communicated with? (meetings, periodic email, frequent email, voice mail...)
You get the idea. Show that you are looking for ways to clarify objectives and you will also find a number of ways to use this information as you move forward in the recruitment process.
You should feel confident about bringing a list of questions with you. Preparation is impressive. If you find that some questions you prepared have already been answered, use this opportunity to say, "You've just covered some of the questions I had about the company's equipment and systems plans, now I'm wondering if you could describe..."
Every interview is a two-way street. It is important for the prospective employer to learn a lot about you, but equally important for you to learn about the employer. This gathering of information helps both sides make the right decisions.
Wishing you career success,
TOP 10 INTERVIEW MISTAKES
By Glenn Demby
You got a big job interview. The suit's nice and pressed. The shoes are polished. You've done your homework - researched the company, prepared answers to anticipated questions, the whole bit. You've even driven to the office the day before so you know you won't get lost. When the big day comes, you show up 20 minutes early. You tell the receptionist you're here. She gives you a smile but you ignore it.
Guess what? You might have already blown it. Before the interview has even started, you've unwittingly made two of the top 10 interview mistakes:
|Showing Up Early: Showing up more than 10 minutes early is a no-no. It makes you look like you've got too much time on your hands and casts doubt on your ability to follow directions.|
|Being Rude to the Receptionist: Don't dismiss the receptionist as a non-entity. He or she might have something to say to your interviewer after you leave.|
|Here's the rest of the Top 10:|
|The Wrong Handshake: Avoid the dead fish, vise grip, finger clutch and pump handle. Grab the whole hand firmly but without being obnoxious.|
|Showing Up Late: This one needs no explanation.|
|Bad-Mouthing Current or Past Employers/Colleagues: This casts doubt on your character even if your criticism is valid. If you do have something important and negative to say, do it in as positive a way as possible, "I really learned a lot working at ABC. I only wish. . ."|
|Not Asking Good Questions: See Lauryn's article above on this one.|
|Lack of Eye Contact: It's not an old wive's tale. You really do need to look your interviewer right in the eye.|
|Excessive Eyeballing: Looking your interviewer in the eye doesn't mean staring the person down. Too much eye contact can be intimidating and make you look like a zombie.|
|Verbal Ticks: Um, like, you know, this can, like, really detract from your presentation and, um, hurt your chances.|
|Failure to Follow Cues: Your interviewer will signal to you what kind of person he or she is. Adapt your style accordingly. If you got a tight one, don't try to loosen him up.|
GOING DOWN IN FLAMES
Interview Gaffes to Remember
If you're going to blow your interview, you might as well do it style and make an impression. A recent CareerBuilders survey asked 600 hiring managers to list the most memorable interview mistakes they ever saw a job applicant make. Here were some of the responses:
- "Candidate argued with interviewer, got up and left. The best part is that he called later to see if he had gotten the job."
- "Candidate's opening comment was a dirty joke."
- "Candidate made a pass at the hiring manager."
- "Candidate admitted she wouldn't pass the mandatory drug test."
- "Candidate showed up wearing pajamas and flip flops."
- "Candidate admitted that the reason she wanted the job was for the employee discount."
- "Candidate brought his mom to the interview."
- "Candidate said you must be busy because your office is really messy."
- "Candidate arrived in a revealing shirt."
- "Candidate forgot what position she was applying for, but wanted to know how soon she could have my office."
- "Candidate brought wine to the interview and offered me a glass."