Interviews That Generate Offers
I'm not sure who coined the phrase "You only have one chance to make a first impression", but they were most definitely right. The most important rule of interviewing is "be prepared". When you enter into an interview, you have better have done your homework, or you may find yourself hemming and hawing your way right out the door.
Because of my many years experience in the recruiting and staffing industry, I'm often asked to share some "words of wisdom" or "magic formula" to increase one's chances at securing an offer of employment. I am sorry to say, there are none. However, there are some common sense things you can use to better your chances. Below, I have outlined some these tips that you are free to use as you see fit. This is basically the same material I cover with candidates prior to their interviews. I hope you will find it beneficial.
Seven Steps to Getting Offers
1. Research the company, their financials, markets, competitors and product lines. People are always impressed when you are aware of who they are and what they do. Prepare a short list of questions from your research material and remember to ask them! Some valuable resources for getting the information are:
- A company website.
They generally have overviews in each area and are readily accessible. (Be sure to read the press releases!)
- Dunn and Bradstreet.
This is an excellent resource that's available at your public library.
- Value Line Investment Survey.
This is a super resource for evaluating industry shifts and trends. Again, it's readily available at your public library. An online subscription runs about $500.00/yr
- U.S. Industrial Outlook.
Here you will find the backgrounds, outlooks,trends, problems and opportunities of 250 industries. It's also readily available at your public library.
- Hoover's OnLine.
A small business subscription is $89.00/mth, but you can glean a good overview and current financials for free.
2. Be prepared to answer some tough questions. Interviewers are becoming much more sophisticated in the lately and will definately ask you more than the standard, "Tell me about your job" and "Why are you looking to leave?" I've listed some examples below.
- "Tell me about a problem you were involved with where conventional proceedures were ineffective. How did you proceed to solve it, and why did you choose the method you did?"
- "Can you describe a situation in which you had to adjust quickly to changes in organizational or strategic priorities? How did the changes affect you and how did you deal with them?"
- "Can you describe a time where you had to make a dificult decision that had serious consequences, regardless of the choice? What facts did you consider and how did you arrive at your decision?"
- "Tell me about a situation where in order to accomplish your objectives, it required working across organizational or departmental boundaries and a great deal of resistance was encountered. How did you handle the situation and what, if anything, did you learn from it?"
- "Why should I consider you a strong candidate for this position?"
- "What are your greatest weaknesses as an employee?"
- "What do you plan to do to correct those weaknesses?"
- "What are the biggest failures you've had during the course of your career?"
- "What have you done to make sure they won't happen again?"
- "How do you go about making important decisions?"
- "Do you anticipate problems or "go with the flow"? Examples?"
- "Your supervisor tells you to do something in a way you know is dead wrong. What would you do and why?"
3. Make sure of your directions the night before or leave early to make certain you know where to go. There's nothing more embarassing than having to call from a phone booth to tell them you're lost!
4. Remember to establish a rapport or "common ground" between you and your interviewer. This is done simply by verbally acknowledging all areas of agreement. Statements like: "Me too!", "I see", "I feel the same way", "I'm that way too", are very powerful tools in establishing common ground. Keep in mind, a person's decision to extend you an offer has more to do with "I like them" and "They remind me of me, " than the level of technical competency.
5. Prepare a list of questions designed to get you the information you need to make a decision. Have everything answered when you leave. One thing I always tell candidates is; when you leave the interview, You should be able to answer 3 questions.
- "Do you feel that you can do the job?"
- "Do you think they feel you can do the job?"
- "Do you want the job?"
The list below contains some examples of questions designed to get you this information.
- "Would you mind describing the details of the job for me please?"
This will give you a good overall description of what you'll be doing at any given time. There's a good follow-up question to this one which will prioritize the duties and give you a much more accurate decription. We will cover that later.
- "Could you show me how it fits into the overall organization."
This will give you an idea of the structure; what positions are above and below you and the reporting sequences.
- "What would you consider to be ideal experience for this position?"
However they answer this will tell you if you you're going to be a good match and give you an idea of their expectations, learning curves, additional training etc.
- "What would you consider the ideal person for this position to be?
What they will describe here is the corporate attitude, personality, and culture. This will tell you if it looks like an environment that you would be happy in.
- "What is the most critical need facing your staff right now?"
Remember after question one, I said there was a good follow-up question to ask? Well this is it. They may give you a list of 10 different things that you will be doing at some time or another, but how they answer this will tell you where you'll be spending most of your time.
- "What are the avenues for advancement beyond this level?"
This should tell you if your future, or long term goals are in line with the projected career path.
If you can get answers to each of these six questions, you should be able to answer the previous three questions.
6. Once you sense the interview is beginning to wind down there are two things you definately want to do. The first is make sure that there have been no misunderstandings and that all their questions have been answered. This is easily accomplished by asking yet another question.
- "Based on what I've heard to this point, this sounds like a great opportunity and I feel confident that I can perform up to your expectations. But before I go, are there any other questions or concerns about my background or capabilities that still need to be addressed?"
This should flush-out anything they might still be un-clear on.
7. The last thing, but definately the most important is, ASK FOR THE JOB! This can be done in a number of ways, depending on your personality. I will outline several ways to do this and you can select the one you feel most comfortable with. (Always remember to preface the question with a "common ground" statement first.)
- "Based on my impressions up to this point, I feel like this is a great opportunity. The company seems very progressive, I feel like the work would be extremely exciting, and the people I've met so far impress me as great folks to work with. When do I start?"
This method is probably the best, however, many people do not feel comfortable with this. They think it sounds to pushy. Personally, I think it sounds aggressive but not pushy. If you think this is a little strong, then soften it up a little.
- "Based on everything I've heard so far, I think this sounds like a fantastic opportunity. The company sounds like their right on target, the job sounds very exciting, and the people seem like a great bunch folks to work with. I would really be interested in evaluating an offer from you."
If this still seems a little too forward then tone it down one more notch, but no further. You have to indicate some interest in the position or you will never have an offer to evaluate and your decision will be made for you.
- "Based on everything I've seen here today, I think this is a great opportunity. Your company seems to be going through some tremendous growth, The position really appeals to me, and I think I could fit in quite well here. What's the next step?"
If you follow these few simple guidelines, you'll find that you are much more in control during the interviewing situation than you previously thought.