PREPARE SEVERAL INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
By Tim Gaffney
My job is to prepare you as well as possible for your interview. It is a real tribute that we have gotten to a face-to-face interview. This shows a real and sincere interest in you by the company. This is a major point in the employment process. Your dual role on an interview is to market your skills and interview the company. Timely, appropriate questions not only provide you with valuable information about the company, but questions help create a positive conversational atmosphere between yourself and the company. Below are suggested questions you may want to consider:
- What are the common denominators of successful people in this company?
- What characteristics are unique about this company?
- What outside influences affect the company’s growth?
- What are the short and long-range company objectives?
- In what areas does this company excel?
- How can I contribute to the department and contribute to overall company goals?
- What is the organizational structure of: a) this department? b) The company?
- How long was the last person in this position? What made this person successful? Are there additional skills needed for this position now?
- What would you add or subtract to the incumbent’s performance?
- What would you expect me to achieve during my first six months to a year? What obstacles do you foresee that I would have to overcome?
- Why do you enjoy working here?
- What is your background?
- Who are your competitors?
- What distinguishes you from your competitors?
- What do you see as the primary focus of the department?
- What are the long-term goals/appropriate for the person in this position?
- Who are the key people I will interface with and how can I help them?
- Tell me about yourself?
- What attracted you to this company?
- What areas does the company need developing or polishing in?
- Where do you think I could contribute most effectively now that you have met me?
Pick the questions you are most comfortable in asking. Write them down and bring them with you. Also ask for more detail if you see that the interviewer is genuinely interested in providing information. Believe me, they will love having the opportunity to sell their company…and you will learn a great deal about the organization. Probing questions, which are not just general in nature, will also say a great deal about you as a candidate.
You need to think about your answers to these questions before your interview. Do not leave anything to chance. Ask a friend to ask you these questions and practice your response. You will be far more comfortable in your interview once you are comfortable with a prepared response to an anticipated question. You don’t want to sound “scripted” but you also don’t want to “shoot from the hip.”
Show and Tell/Preparation
I am a huge believer in this! This is the point where you can demonstrate your preparation for this interview, and actually show the interviewer what you have accomplished. You can now talk in real terms about your accomplishments and what you have done. You don’t want to force these on the interviewer, but have them available for an appropriate moment to demonstrate your preparation and be able to give concrete examples. Have documents in your briefcase to show exactly what you have done in previous positions. These can include but are not restricted to the following examples:
- Forecasting spreadsheet. Shows how you build forecasts for your territory or area of responsibility.
- Presentations. Either sales or marketing presentations. Shows your organization skills and written ability.
- Performance reviews. Gives written examples of what your superiors have had to say about you. These can also include “atta boy” letters of congratulation.
- Subordinate evaluations. If interviewing for a management positions, demonstrates how you evaluate people working for you.
- Date book or calendar. Demonstrates how you schedule your time and plan follow-up activities.
Talking in specifics, giving concrete examples of your work and showing examples of what you have done will set you apart from other candidates who are interviewing for this position.
Also, make sure you go to the company’s website to learn as much as you can about the company, their history, their financial picture, competition and product lines. Learn about the background of their top people. Also, go out to retail and look at their products, distribution and competitive positioning. You may have some very specific questions about packaging, distribution, pricing or display, which will show that you have done your homework. This preparation reflects very positively on you, and you will be far more comfortable discussing the position and products.
SALARY AND BENEFITS
Do not bring up the subject of salary or benefits.
- Initiating a discussion on salary/benefits identifies you as one that is motivated only by money.
- On the company’s employment application, do not leave the section for desired salary blank (write in negotiable or open).
- If the employer asks what you are currently earning – be honest and specific. Include base salary, bonus program, car allowance etc. If asked to produce a W-2 be prepared to do that. You must be honest!
- If the employer asks what your salary requirements are, your response should be, “I currently earn $_____ and I would expect a fair offer. Don’t give a specific number.
Specifying a desired salary is likely to under price/overprice you, and/or impedes my ability to negotiate the best possible offer to you.
CLOSING THE INTERVIEW
It is important that you leave the interview expressing enthusiasm about the position as well as uncovering any doubts that the interviewer may have about you as a viable candidate for the position. Below is the correct way to close an interview/
Script: “I am very interested in this position. Now that we have met, what other questions do you have about my qualifications or ability to do the job?” or “ Given my background, is there anything you see which would preclude me from being successful in this position?”
After asking the question, it is necessary to be patient and wait for a response. The interviewer’s response may be all that stands between you and the position that you desire.
If the interviewer’s response is “None” (this is your opportunity to separate yourself from the crowd) ASK FOR THE JOB – eg. “ Given our conversation today, would you consider me a top candidate for this position? Or “Great, what else do you need from me to move forward to the next step?” Look for closing questions from the interviewer such as “ When would you be available to start?” or “Can you provide me a list of references?” Be positive. Companies want to be wanted also. If they make an offer they want to be reasonably assured it will be accepted. Remember the last impression is a lasting impression.
If the interviewer states a reservation, respond with a description of actual work experience in your background that may not have been disclosed in the interview, or illustrate a similar work experience. Remember that when responding to any interview question; do not just answer yes or no. Give a specific example and paint a verbal picture of that experience. Use specific examples.
If you are interested in the position, tell them so. If they offer the position to you, and you want it, accept it on the spot. (If you wish time to think it over, be courteous and tactful in asking for that time. Set a definite date when you can provide and answer. Do no create the impression that you are playing one company against the other to drive up the bidding)
Don’t be discouraged if no definite offer or specific salary is discussed. This rarely happens. Usually an offer is extended after references are checked and internally there is an agreement on bringing you in. The offer will come either through me as the recruiter or directly from the company. Expect the company to require a drug test, and perhaps background checks as prerequisite to employment.
Thank the interviewer for this/her time and consideration. If you have answered the two questions uppermost in their mind, and these are key:
- Why are you interested in this company?
- What can you offer?
You have done all you can.
FOLLOW – UP
It is important for you to call me immediately to discuss the interview. We need to work together to get an offer of employment. The company will also be interested in your impression of the interview and your level of interest. My follow-up with company on your behalf is very important.
Send a follow-up email to the employer. These emails should be sent to everyone who interviewed you. It should also be personal and reflect topics discussed during that specific interview. This also should be done within 24 hours of the interview. This should consist of the following themes:
- Thank each person for his or her time.
- Express your confidence in doing the job.
- Three reasons why you can do the job.
- Express interest in pursuing the opportunity and look forward to hearing from them soon.
Be sure that you spell the company name and contact names correctly!