Interview Tips

Most companies hiring processes go something like this: they are trying to fill a poorly defined job using imperfect screening methods, and hope to find a perfect candidate.

Applicants need to understand that most recruiters use a transactional process to fill positions, using traditional job descriptions, listing skills, academics, and required experience to screen and select candidates. A savvy candidate can stand out and gain an advantage by using solution selling. The following are some ideas on how to become the top candidate for the job.

1)  Ask these types of solution selling questions early in the interview: 

  • Why is the job open?
  • What are some of the big challenges the person hired will need to address? 
  • What are some problems that need fixing?How does the job fit with the company strategy?
  • What’s the most important thing the person hired needs to do in the first 3-6 months to be considered successful?

Note: Another technique as a lead in to ask these questions -  "As well as answering your questions, I'd like to understand how my experience and skillset can bring value to this role, would you mind if I ask some questions upfront which will help me assess this?"

2)  Once you understand the 2-3 big things the person needs to accomplish, you then need to position yourself as the solution. The idea behind this is that there are many qualified people who can successfully do this work, but get excluded because they don’t perfectly fit the traditional skills and experience type of job description. To overcome this you’ll need to give examples of your accomplishments that most directly relate to the position.

3)  As you describe your accomplishments use the following two-minute SAFW format – Say A Few Words:

  • S: make an opening Statement
  • A: Amplify the statement
  • F: provide a Few examples and details as specific proof
  • W: conclude with a Wrap-up sentence. ASK FOR THE JOB!
  • As part of your answer, don’t talk for less than one minute or more than three. If it’s too short no one will believe you, and if you’re too long, you’ll be considered insensitive and boring.

4)  You need to prepare your answers ahead of time. The best way to do this is to prepare an SAFW response for everyone of your strengths. The examples are the most important part of this. Make sure you have a lots of different examples you can choose from that best fit the company’s needs, and practice, practice, practice giving the two-minute SAFW response. 

Solution selling might help you get the job you deserve. If you ask questions diplomatically, you will be labeled as a person with good interpersonal skills. Best of all: if you’ve been accomplished, and show energy and motivation to work hard, you will become a serious contender for the position. They might even redefine the job a bit to better fit your capabilities. Collectively, this is an excellent strategy on how to present yourself in a job interview. Remember to ASK FOR THE JOB! Good luck! 

Here is a good article from Fast Company that is worth a read.

What Happens After the Interview?

Don't Wait, Follow-Up. Waiting to hear back from an employer about your recent interview can be an anxious time. You want to know if you got hired, obviously, but you’re unsure if a follow-up is a right decision. The art of the follow-up is a fine one. You apply for a job, get the interview, and then may be left in limbo for weeks before hearing back, if the employer even calls at all. How you respond, in a timely manner, is vital to landing the job you want. It requires a degree of finesse, from the initial email or phone conversation, to negotiating salary, to signing your name on the line next to the hand-written “X.” Responding correctly could make the difference between getting the position, and not getting the job.

Always follow up. Following up is critical in showing your continued interest in a job opportunity. Keep yourself in [the employer’s] minds as they make the decision… A great approach is to ask about their timeline for making a hiring decision before you leave the interview. This will help you to properly time your follow-up attempts. In addition, a quick 'thank you' [email or note] is always a nice touch.

Don't wait. Send your note within 24 hours of the interview, sooner if you're emailing. That saying about "he who hesitates is lost" can hold true when you're job searching.

Send a thank you letter, note, or email message to everyone who interviewed you. Email is the fastest way to say thank you after a job interview, and it's perfectly acceptable to send a thank you email 
Consider sending a handwritten thank you note. Keep a box of thank you note cards and a book of stamps handy. It will serve as another reminder, and show that you care enough about the job to take the time to write a note, put on a stamp, and mail your thank you.
Promote your candidacy. Use your follow-up note to reiterate your interest in the job and the company.
Tell the interviewer why you are qualified. Highlight your relevant skills that are specific to the job requirement.
What did you forget to say? If there's something you had wished you'd shared during the interview, do it now. Mention anything you wished you had said, but didn't, during the interview.
Proofread your follow up letters before you send them. A typo or grammatical error can knock you out of contention.
When somebody says they’ll call you next week, and they don’t call you next week, it’s okay to tastefully follow up when you haven't heard back. If the company has given you a set time frame and exceeded it by longer than a week, a well-written follow-up note is reasonable. It should be concise and friendly. Don’t necessarily remind them that they haven’t gotten back to you, but rather use the time frame provided as the reason for your follow up.

Finally — and this is possibly the most important of all — learn when to move on. Don’t take it personally. It’s not you, it’s them. You never know what is happening internally at a company. Follow up once, and if you receive no response, follow up once more. If you still don't hear anything, move on.

The rule should be this: show that you care. If you’re too lackadaisical, the employer may think you don’t care enough about the job. If you’re too persistent, you’re just super annoying. Find the right balance during the first interview, and follow up based on what you felt. Remember, if you’re the best candidate for the job, they already know it.

How to Take a Personality Assessment?

  1. Read all instructions carefully: Write-down your password as indicated (this allows you re-entry if you are disconnected for some reason).
  2. It is in your best interest to answer the personality questions with openness and honesty using your own value system, not what you think the Administrator wants you to say.
    • Note: There is a consistency measure built into the assessment, so guessing at the intent of the personality questions is likely to present a highly distorted profile of your results. A good rule of thumb is not to think about an answer longer than 5 seconds! Your candid responses are always the right answers.
  3. Set aside the appropriate amount of time without interruption to complete the assessment. Few people complete all parts of the timed sections.
  4. Do not take the assessment if you're tired, ill, or unusually stressed.

Good luck!