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What does starting a job, seeking a promotion, making a sale, or going to a parole officer all have in common? That's right! They all usually have some form of an interview included. With different types of interviews all around us and the increasing need for interviewing skills; why are so many candidates failing at their interviews? The answer is... no one focuses on the interview, or they practice for the interview during the interview, which is a horrible practice. I'm going to focus solely on the interview process: the before, during, and the after process.
Before the interview- The process that is prior to any form of interviewing including but not limited to initial phone screening. The best way to begin the interview process is to start with research. This step is an essential predecessor for the "During the Interview" process. You may ask what I need to research.
The answer is simple:
1. The length of time the company has been in business.
2. Key products and services provided
3. The current company trends:
4. How your skills bring value to the company
5. Names of key decision makers
6. Analysis of key competitive companies
The bulk, if not all of this information is typically available on the company website. Other places to find the necessary information is: networking with people, company blog, marketing material, news sources, associations, career web sites, and company annual reports. With the increase of technology there have become more ways to research a company:
And business information sites:
Once you have all your researches complete, it is best to see how you fit. Look for the ways your skills will be of value to the company. You will essentially be answering every interviewer primary question: why should I hire you? You will be able to logically inform them how your skills meet the needs of the company, and use your accomplishments to support your statements.
Okay, so you have done all the research and your hiring statement is perfect. Complete with accomplishments that will make the CEO want to offer you their position. So, what's next?
Studies have shown that 33% of job positions are filled by a referral - a person who currently works for the company and can vouch for you skills and work ethic.
Meanwhile only 1% of positions are filled by job boards. Statistically speaking, it will be best to find yourself a referral. Preferably someone who can influence the hiring process, if not, any referral will suffice.
Although it is not entirely impossible, it is seemingly difficult to get employed without speaking to someone. Do not be afraid to get in contact with your referral. Use email, social network, and the most efficient- phone or webcam. Speaking to a person over the phone allows you to engage in conversation that is difficult to do by other means, build rapport, and let the person know you are not some robot typing up countless emails.
PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE!
The most overlooked step in the pre-interview process is practice. There are a few parts of the interview that you can't practice enough:
Opening chit-chat or small talk
Your marketing message and bio
Responses to interview FAQ's
Responses to industry related questions
Responses to sticky questions (ethical)
Your closing points
There are two great methods for practicing:
2. Video recording
1-on-1 - in a formal interview setting, practice the entire interview process. Ask the person for tips and certain things they notice. Play the part by wearing your planned interview attire.
Video recording - grab a camera and record your self practicing. After you successfully convey your desired message in the effective manner you were aiming for, turn off the volume. While the volume is off, pay close attention to your facial expressions, body language, posture, and mannerism.
Finally, be persistent.
Nothing impresses an interviewer more than you active desire to fill a position at their company. CONGRATULATIONS! You now know the full pre-interview process; let us now move forward to the "During the Interview" process.
During the Interview - the process defined as the time you arrive to the interview (15 minutes early) to the time you leave the interview. The interview can be many types and variations, so instead of going through each one individually, I'll cover the tactics needed in any of the forms.
I'm sure you are already a few steps ahead since you followed the advice in "Before the Interview" section, and practiced extensively. Make sure you have your required materials: paper to take notes, pen, questions you plan to ask, resume, and your cover letter.
Now you have checked that you have all of your materials, checked in with the secretary, and had a seat; relax. You have all the confidence, abilities, and skills needed to land a job offer from the interview. Put to use your practice, and your interviewing statements of why you should be hired. You have the power during the interview not the interviewer. You will be hired based off of YOUR responses, YOUR accomplishments, and YOUR skills. Knowing that it's all in your hands should put you at ease and allow you to ace the interview.
1. Smile - no interviewer wants to hire someone who does not seem like they are happy to get the job.
2. Posture - sit up straight on the edge of your seat. This will show confidence on your behalf.
3. Eye contact - avoiding eye contact or looking around the room shows a sign of dishonesty. Avoid this by making good eye contact when answering questions. The secret to eye contact is choosing one eye and staring into that eye.
4. Take notes - this tip is commonly overlooked, so applying this tip will only better your chances with the interviewer. An interview is designed for the employer to find out information about you and for you to find out information on the position.
Take notes about key points made that you can do exceptionally well, answers to your questions, and answers you may have messed up on so you provide a more accurate answer with a tip in the "After the interview" section.
5. Ask questions - no interviewer wants to hear "you've answered all my questions." You come off as a "know it all," or uninterested.
Even if you have nothing else you would like to know, ask questions to show your interest: how soon are you expecting to fill the position, what metrics will I be measured by, what is a day in the life, why do you like this company. There are two questions you should ALWAYS ask: What is your best contact method (get their email or direct contact number), when should I expect to hear back about an offer (take note of the time frame).
6. Courtesy - thank the interviewer for their time and shake their hand firmly. If you are a male and you interview is a female, practice chivalry. Also leave your phone in the car if possible or have it turned off before you enter the building.
Make sure you take the interviewer name down accurately, as well as their contact information. This will be vital in the next section.
After the Interview
The hard part is over now; you are done with the interview. Unless you were offered a job on the spot, this is where you show your persistence. The first thing you want to do is write down any final notes or thoughts. Hopefully you got the interviewer's name and contact information.
Follow-up letter - a letter that is sent to an interviewer(s) after the interview is complete. It consists of your understanding of the position, how you bring value to the company, hard facts of how you've had success in a similar position, and your confidence of you being a good fit. It can also clarify any misunderstanding or fully answer questions that were not done so during the interview.
After the interview, within 12 hours of you completing the interview, you should type up a follow-up letter. This power packed action gives you more reason to be remembered and furthers your chances of being hired. A follow-up letter should not be long or much to read. Most employers may use their smart phones to check their email accounts, so you should only say what you have to say and nothing more.
If you do not hear from the employer by the deadline they gave you, reach out to them. Shoot them a positive, energetic email showing your enthusiasm and interest in the job. Also leave a message with their secretary.
Congratulations, you have a great deal of tactics that should land you your next interview. Don't forget to keep your options open and don't put all your eggs in one basket. Fill out applications with other companies. It's much easier to turn down a company that it is to wait for a call that would never come.