Treat a phone interview with the same gravity as a face to face interview. This is your 1st impression with your potential new employer and you should strive to make it the best one that you can.
- Minimize distractions. If you have scheduled a phone interview, plan to be in a quiet place, if the call was unexpected, ask to reschedule so that you are more prepared and in a focused environment.
- Avoid using a cell phone if possible. Try a landline for phone interviews, you never know when the call may drop or static may interfere with this important event.
- Sharpen your verbal skills. Since the interview is conducted over the phone, the person interviewing you can not see your body language and facial expressions, all of this communication needs to be conveyed through your tone and language over the phone. Interviewers listen for cues indicating such qualities as passion for the job, professionalism and whether the person might be a good cultural fit.
- Prepare in advance. Keep notes and your resume at hand. Research the company so you know about their business and their environment so you can be educated about what they do and how your skills and experience could be an asset to their company.
- Follow up. Send a thank you note or email to the interviewer thanking them for the opportunity and highlight your best selling points.
Face to face interviews
- Be Prepared. Know where you are going, who you are meeting with and what is expected of you. If you are conducting a first face to face interview, make sure you bring at least 3 copies of your resume with you (1 for you to review and 2 for the interviewer(s).) Be ready to discuss any work samples or skill sets that will apply to your job.
- Dress Appropriately. Wear appropriate business attire. If you know the company has a formal environment, wear a suit, if you know it is more casual, men should wear slacks, a dress shirt and tie. If more casual, women should wear a nice blouse and an appropriate length skirt or slacks. Make sure your hair and nails are clean and conservative. Reduce the amount of distractions you offer from your personal appearance, no bright colors or distracting makeup, nails or jewelry.
- Be on time. Try to arrive at least a half hour prior to your scheduled interview. This will help you locate where you are supposed to meet, announce yourself with the receptionist and get validated with security if needed. A late comer may give the interviewer the impression that you are not serious about working there and if hired may not be dependable and show up for work.
- Reduce Ego. No one ever does anything completely by themselves in any company. If you come across as talking to much or if the entire interview you hear yourself saying how wonderful you are, you have an over inflated ego. You want to project self confidence not arrogance. To do this talk teamwork, engage the other parties involved in the interview, convey interest about the company with smart questions, and don't fixate on the job title. Have realistic expectations.
- Listen more than you talk. Listen thoughtfully and when you speak have something meaningful to say on topic and on point.
- Don't talk about money. If you inquire about what the job pays right from the start you will give the wrong impression. Certainly you have the right to know; but make sure you inquire at the right time, with the right person in the right fashion. If you are on an interview and are represented through a staffing or recruiting firm, the money will be negotiated and disclosed to you through the agency representatives. Most times when this is the case, disclosing pay rates and talking about money is prohibited. This is why the company sought the services of an agency in the first place, so they would not have to hash out the details. If asked how much money you hope to earn in the position, a safe answer would be something like "I'm sure if we can agree on the right opportunity for me, the compensation will not be a problem."
- The job offer. If you are offered a position and do not know right away that you want to accept on the spot, the appropriate time to take to review is a week at the most. If you need more time, let the interviewer know and give them a date that they should expect your answer. If you are interviewing for a contract position, the turnaround time is a lot shorter, a day or two should be ample to respond to an offer. Do not be afraid to ask for clarification or explanation of any benefits or other work related questions before accepting.
- Follow up. Just as in the phone interview, you want to convey your interest and appreciation to the interviewer for giving you the opportunity to interview. Express gratitude and highlight your strengths and how you would be a welcomed addition to their team.
Answering Difficult Questions
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
The interviewer is looking for you to relate yourself to their company in some way, whether you intend on staying there for years or how your skill sets can be applied to new developments. They don't want to hear how you hope to be a movie star or something irrelevant to their business. They want to see if you want to work in this position as long as it takes to find something better or simply as long as it takes period.
How would you be an asset to our company?
The interviewer is looking for both technical and interpersonal skills and effectiveness. Make sure you offer how well you work with others, not just highlight your independent skills. Show them how you will solve their problems and give new insight, sell yourself as a solution, not a candidate.
What is your greatest strength?
Let them know you are a qualified candidate. Tell them your strengths but make sure you relate them to the position.
What is your greatest weakness?
State a real weakness you have and show how you acknowledge it and are working to correct it. For example, you could say that you get nervous when you speak publicly and you are enrolled or have taken some speaking courses to improve upon this. Don't make something up or say you have no weakness; everyone has something they can improve upon. Make it realistic, job related and show you have control over it or are attempting to improve it.
Tell me about a time when you had to accomplish a task with someone who was particularly difficult to get along with.
Teamwork is the key here. The interviewer wants you to show how you have the ability to work with others effectively, diplomatically and still influence them. Give examples of how you overcame the situation, mediated or accomplished the task effectively regardless of the behavior of a difficult person.
What are things that motivate you?
Money, hard work, a job well done, an open and exciting environment, a challenge, deadlines. These are examples of things that could motivate you in regards to your performance. Be honest and explain why your motivator would be a good thing for you to have while working there.
Tell me about a time when you resolved a problem with no rules or processes in place?
The interviewer is looking for you to have a sense of urgency and recognize the importance of initiating action. If you can show how you came to a resolve a problem using critical thinking and provided excellent customer service to all parties along the way, this would be key.