Tag Archives: Interview techniques

The Secret Behind an Excellent Interview

The Secret Behind an Excellent Interview

The secret is: be brief

What is the secret behind an excellent interview?  Be brief. Now that the secret is revealed, I will support my tenet with a few facts. Actually, you can do what I did: I watched some television with a stopwatch to see how long an answer people provide for a question. As samples, I used, among others, Presidents Obama and Clinton because I consider them excellent communicators with media people in a question-and-answer setup. Typically, one of their answers would be 30 to 90 seconds long, with very few deviations. In order to get to such a level of excellence, one needs two ingredients: innate talent and lots of practice. Not all of us are born with this type of talent, but all of us can achieve it through practice and in fact should if we want to excel at interviews.

As an interview coach, I help people become better at answering difficult interview questions. I’ve found it interesting that regardless of people’s professions, backgrounds, or titles most are not good when facing a job interviewer—despite the fact that some think they are, because after all, they’ve gotten jobs in the past, right? Universally, though, people are long-winded, and their answers tend to be paragraphs instead of several bulleted items supported by examples. Some provide protracted answers that go way beyond the listener’s attention span. The danger here is that the job candidate is not made aware of losing the listener’s attention, since regrettably, interviewers don’t have digital readouts on their foreheads showing their listening level at that moment.

The best way to overcome that obstacle is to prepare for interview answers by first writing out the answers longhand in SARB format. (SARB is the acronym for situation, action, result, and benefit.) Next, review each answer with an eye toward shortening them. If an answer can be delivered in about 60 seconds, you’ll achieve your objective. Now, it’s practice time. Best if you work with a career coach who can give you not only honest feedback but also the correct answers. Otherwise, ask a friend, family member, or someone else who also might benefit from such practice.

 

Jump Start Your Job Search Workshop

Jump Start Your Job Search Workshop 9 am – 4 pm,

Saturday, April 23rd –

Fee $10

Church of the Saviour, 651 North Wayne Avenue, Wayne PA

Jump Start

Here is your opportunity to land a dream job

An interactive day of information and ideas to provide help and hope in your job transition

Finding a Fit Not Just a Job – Theresa Hummel-Krallinger – By understanding your own preferences and then comparing them to the culture of employers you are more likely to find a fit.  Theresa will help you identify your primary behavior style, determine the culture of an organization and help you determine whether you are a fit and how you can adapt your style.

5 Social Media Must Do’s to Turbocharge Your Job Search Matt Levy – Come invest in yourself by learning from Matt during this interactive presentation on how to stand out from the crowd by using social media tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter, blogging, email marketing and YouTube so that corporate recruiters, headhunters, hiring managers and potential clients will be attracted to you, will find you, will call you and ultimately hire you!

Networking over lunch with fellow participants and speakers

Question and Answer Session with our Panel of Experts – Theresa, Matt, Alex, and Amy

Interview Like a ProAlex Freund – All of the networking, working with recruiters and answering job ads is worthless unless you are called in for an interview. How many people understand the interview process and what is important for the interviewer? We will discuss the art of interviewing, preparing for interviews, questions to ask, etc.

The Value of ConnectingAmy Dinning – I have my job search toolkit ready now what do I do?  Forging connections and relationships is my next step to mutually benefit both of us whether for job search or just for life.  Let’s talk about the value of connecting, how to connect, where to connect and get started in forming relationships where we can help each other.

Registration starts at 8:30 am and the workshop begins at 9 am.  The formal part of the workshop will end at 4 pm.  Please bring your business (networking) cards.  Bring your lunch as there will be no place to purchase one.

Please register online at www.cosnet.org/care and pay with a credit card.  We are unable to take walk-ins.  Please note that online registration will close on Wednesday, April 20 at noon.

For more information or questions, contact Amy Dinning at amydinning@juno.com.  The event is sponsored by Church of the Saviour, Hire One (a Chester County Economic Development Council initiative), St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia Society of People & Strategy, TCBY, My Career Transitions, American Society for Talent Development Philadelphia chapter, Penn State Great Valley Career Services, Wegmans and Acme.

 

 

 

Interviewing is Emotional and Logical

Interviewing is a combination of art and science

Interviewing is a combination of art and science

Interviewing is a combination of art and science thus it has a part which is emotional yet another part which is logical. It very much reminds me a game of Chess. While the interview is typically amicable the “players” are adversaries. One is the seller yet the other person is the buyer who is merely doing his due diligence.   And the buyer knows that making the mistake of hiring bad people is very costly.

The interview process is a challenge for both the interviewer and the candidate because interviewing is not well understood by either party. On one hand, the interviewer knows that several preselected qualified candidates have to be interviewed in order to anticipate and decide which one will perform best for the organization in the future. On the other hand, the candidate knows he is onstage and has to be at his best in every respect because he is in a tough competition for a single opening. A good interviewer should review the candidate based on four different aspects: communication skills, competency via specific skills, organizational fit, and motivation which is exhibited by ability to show passion and excitement. Those are the most crucial areas, even if there are of course several other relevant aspects to explore.

When exploring the candidate’s communications skills, I always start with the request, “Tell me about yourself.” The request serves as an opener for me, the interviewer, in an attempt to get a first impression of the candidate as a way of assessing communication skills. It is a baseline reading against which I will compare the rest of the interview questions. If answered well, all future answers will be viewed through a positive prism. But if the answer to that first question is not viewed favorably, the candidate will have a difficult time convincing me to reverse my opinion.

A good answer should:

  • Be intriguing and memorable
  • Include an example of an impressive accomplishment
  • Be responsive, informative, brief, and succinct
  • Engage the interviewer via a question in turn about the interviewer’s own priorities or challenges

A poor answer is:

  • Lengthy and recites chronologically the candidate’s career
  • Unfocused or rambling
  • Boring
  • Challenging to the interviewer because of regional or foreign accent or speech impediments

When trying to assess the candidate’s competency for certain specific skills crucial to the job, I request an answer to following: “Tell me about one of your major accomplishments and its outcome.” By that, I can test the candidate’s specific competency in an area where in my mind he has to show experience and strength. I’m looking for hard skills and wanting to hear how they were deployed in the past.

A good answer should:

  • Show the candidate’s ability to recite an example that gives a brief background overview
  • Include a specific example that highlights a required skill and that resulted in a successful outcome
  • Tell the actions the candidate took
  • Be cited as recognized by others—such as supervisors, peers, and customers—for credibility

A poor answer is:

  • General and nonimpressive
  • Not focused on specific skills
  • Lacking in a specific example of accomplishment achieved via the skill
  • Blatantly self-praising but without evidence

Then comes my follow-up: “Tell me about a specific, work-related problem and how you went about resolving it.” Here I am drilling down to details and anticipating hearing the step-by-step approach the candidate took to resolve the problem.

The next area I explore is the candidate’s cultural fit into our organization. Cultural fit could be subjective and influenced by prejudice. It is heavily influenced by the top leadership. It includes such elements as values, attitudes, office language, tone of communication, the team or individual decision-making process, and daily work practices, often made up of unspoken and unwritten rules of behavior.

Via this question I’m looking to ascertain whether the candidate will blend in naturally and become a welcome contributor to the team. I’m also paying attention to the applicant’s past behavior. Here are a few questions as examples. “What do you know about our company?” That one tests whether the candidate has done his homework and is well prepared or really interested. “What is your management style?” Here I’m listening to hear whether he says only the obvious and whether he’ll be able to adapt to the company’s needs. I am looking for maturity, competency, and how he handles relationships with others.

The last area I explore is motivation. Typical questions would be, “Why are you interested in this position?” Then I watch to see whether he talks about self or company needs, whether he understands challenges, how he envisions contribution to organization, whether he clearly demonstrates passion and excitement, and whether he’s just plain likable. Other questions whose answers reveal motivation might be: “Why do you want to leave [or did you leave] this position? What would be your perfect job? What would you do in the first 90 days after being hired? What are your interests outside work? People who do a lot outside work are also motivated at work.

Most people need to prepare extensively for upcoming interviews in order to feel good about themselves – otherwise is showing. Some people seem to have a knack for interviewing and here two people come to my mind: Presidents Bill Clinton and Barak Obama. They make interviewing on camera seem so simple.