by Bradley Swartz of AccFin Staffing (www.accfinstaffing.com)
Whenever I have a candidate going in for an interview I like to get that person in the right frame of mind by sharing with them a verbal / visual template that they can use to guide them through a face-to-face interview.
What this means is that I prepare candidates by breaking down the interview process into 3 critical / key parts. Each part is of equal importance, and if you want to ace your interview, you need to master all 3 parts.
Let’s look at these 3 parts:
1. INFORMATION GATHERING STAGE
2. “SELLING STAGE” – SELLING YOURSELF
3. “CLOSING” OUT THE INTERVIEW
STAGE 1 – INFORMATION GATHERING STAGE
The idea here is to try and find out as much information about the client as possible prior to the interview as well as doing your research on the people who are interviewing you, so that you can use this in the interview to your advantage.
This can be done by:
1. Going to a company’s website and reading through information relating to the history of the company, services and products they offer.
2. If it is publicly traded I always like to suggest to candidates, depending on the role that they are interviewing for, and their level of experience, is to take a quick look at the financials of the company. Know things like the company’s share price, how the share price has reacted or changed in the past year.
3. Look at both current year & prior year sales and profitability.
4. You may even want to read the “Managements Discussion & Analysis” in the 10K report as this gives a lot of information about inherent risks that the company may face going forward and how this will impact a company’s profitability and shareholders.
Yes, this a lot of reading and prepping, however all this will help give you some good insight into the company and will allow you to look like a “Rock Star” by asking good informative questions during your interview.
In addition to this, I also suggest you look at the personal LinkedIn profiles of the people who you are scheduled to meet. In doing so, you might realize you have a common connection, went to the same school, or even notice that the person has a hobby or interest that they have highlighted on their LinkedIn profile – all this can be used to your advantage.
One last thing I like to ask a candidate to do is to ask a question to the interviewer early on the interview along these lines….
” Please, can you tell me what you would consider your ideal candidate for this position based on skills, experience and intangibles…like personality?”
Why is this question important you might ask?
Well, by asking this to the hiring manager or person interviewing you…they are now put in a position where they are giving you, the candidate critical information, which you can now use to sell yourself to them based on what they desire in an ideal candidate and in doing so, you can highlight your own core skills, strengths and experience which can be shared in the 2nd part of the interview…. the “Selling Stage”.
STAGE 2- “SELLING STAGE” – SELLING YOURSELF
After the interviewer has answered your question about what they believe will make a successful candidate for the role, it is now your time to sell yourself and talk about your background and experience.
I would suggest you plan to spend between 2-5 minutes talking about and summarizing your professional background and experience. Do not get off track. Keep to the topic. The idea is to talk about your current and past experience as they relate to the needs of the job/position.
Something I’d like to propose to candidates is to give examples of work related things you have done that might be similar to what the position is you are interviewing entails. Feel free to talk about any projects you have been on, achievements or success stories you have had in past jobs as well as your current job and try and relate these examples to the needs of the client and position you are interviewing for.
You should be talking in terms of the benefits you can bring to the team, company or organization.
Remember, it’s not what the company can do for you, but what you can do for the company, firm or organization.
STAGE 3 – “CLOSING” OUT THE INTERVIEW
Finally, the interview is coming to an end and you want to wrap it up in the most positive and professional way.
One thing I like to recommend is to obviously thank the interviewer/hiring manager for taking the time out of their day to interview you.
In addition to this, it might be worth asking them if they have any concerns about your background or experience or if they need any clarification on anything in your resume or anything that may have been discussed during the interview.
By asking them this, it allows you (the candidate) to address any concerns right there and then in the interview…and it minimizes the risk of the interviewer / hiring manager leaving the interview and having a concern about something that was discussed, that could have easily been put to rest by you.
Lastly, before leaving the interview, feel free to let interviewer know that you are very interested in the position and look forward to hopefully being invited back for another interview (if there is one).
And that’s it! Phew! All done!
Now you cross your fingers and hope for the best!
Some general things to be aware of before, during and after the interview:
1. Dress appropriately and be well groomed. Men: be clean shaven.
2. Be energetic. High energy is good…by this I don’t mean bouncing off the wall. I just mean being outgoing, enthusiastic, having a smile…. showing that you are interested in the position and company.
3. Know your own resume. Don’t get stumped out or caught not knowing your own resume. So, if you didn’t do your resume yourself, or got help with it, make sure you review it before the interview.
4. Make sure you know directions to the interview location. Better to arrive 15 minutes early and wait in your car than arriving 1 minute late.
5. Make sure you have enough questions to ask the interviewer. This means researching the company and position. I would suggest candidates have between 6-8 good questions to ask during the interview. You want to show you are interested in the company. If you are having separate, but multiple interviews at the company that day…. that’s okay…. just ask the same questions to each person whose interviewing you, even if you have asked those questions in the prior interview.
6. Eye-contact with those interviewing you. It’s important to have good eye contact in an interview.
7. Collecting business cards of each person who interviews you and sending a follow up “thank you” email to each of those persons after the interview. Try sending out these emails within 24 hours of the interview.
8. Never lie about your experience or fabricate anything relating to your experience.
9. Don’t talk negatively about your current company, boss, or colleagues.
10. Do not talk about your desired salary. Don’t give the hiring manager a salary number. Let your recruiter do this for you (that’s our job).
11. If the client asks you if you have any weaknesses, don’t answer yes. “Spin” any weakness in a positive light without lying. (ask me how to do this…. happy to help you on this!)