Job Interview Tips

January 25, 2012

An interview is based on the exchange of Information in which people meet on equal terms.

The interviewer wants to assess:

  • Training and experience
  • Personality, temperament, behaviour, suitability for the vacant position, social adaptability and sense of responsibility.
  • Talent, potential for growth and leadership.

The interviewee wants to:

  • Present him/herself favourable, acceptably and confidently.
  • Find out more about the position, growth opportunities, salary and get the job!

Interview Do’s:

The ability to write a great CV/Résumé or cover letter may help you land an interview, but that’s not all it takes to get the job. An outstanding CV/résumé can open the door for you, get you in to meet with your potential employer but once you’re sitting across from them in the interview you will have to start over in order to prove that you are the best candidate.

Most interview errors occur because of the lack of practice and preparation. Of course even if you are well prepared, the interview may not go perfectly well–we all make mistakes after all. However, the following mistakes can easily be avoided by developing strong interviewing skills and preparing properly for the interview.

  • Dress appropriately for the industry. Err on the side of being conservative to show you take the interview seriously. Your personal grooming and cleanliness should be impeccable.
  • Know the exact time and location of your interview. Know how long it takes to get there, park, find a rest room to freshen up, etc.
  • Research the company and market before your interview.
  • Know what you want to say. The interviewer will be asking you “situational type of questions” to get an idea of the depth of your competencies, attributes, likes and dislikes as well as your management requirements. All the requirements are mentioned on the advert/job specification-think back in your career and prepare examples of situations where you portrayed such competencies and attributes. For example: “Give me an example with your current employer where you were involved in a project that required a high level of multitasking and deadlines”.
  • Arrive early to your interview; 5-10 minutes prior to the interview start time.
  • Treat other people you encounter with courtesy and respect. Their opinions of you might be solicited during hiring decisions.
  • Offer a firm handshake, make eye contact, and have a friendly expression when you are greeted by your interviewer. Be polite and courteous at all times.
  • Be formal. Introduce yourself by name and greet interviewer by name (rather use formal address than just first name). Listen to be sure you understand your interviewer’s name and the correct pronunciation. Remember interviewers name throughout the interview. Even when your interviewer gives you a first and last name, address your interviewer by title (Ms., Mr., Dr.) and last name, until invited to do otherwise.
  • Maintain good eye contact during the interview do small talk but always stick to the job and interview topic.
  •  Sit still in your seat; avoid fidgeting and slouching.
  • Respond to questions and back up your statements about yourself with specific examples whenever possible.
  • Ask for clarification if you don’t understand a question.
  • Be thorough in your responses, while being concise in your wording.
  • Be honest and be yourself — your best professional self. Dishonesty gets discovered and is grounds for withdrawing job offers and for firing. You want a good match between yourself and your employer. If you get hired by acting like someone other than yourself, you and your employer will both be unhappy.
  • Treat the interview seriously and as though you are truly interested in the employer and the opportunity presented.
  • Exhibit a positive attitude. The interviewer is evaluating you as a potential co-worker. Behave like someone you would want to work with.
  • Be preapred with questions. Have intelligent questions prepared to ask the interviewer. Having done your research about the employer in advance, ask questions which you did not find answered in your research.
  • Investigate the company. Evaluate the interviewer and the organization s/he represents. An interview is a two-way street. Conduct yourself cordially and respectfully, while thinking critically about the way you are treated and the values and priorities of the organization.
  • Do expect to be treated appropriately. If you believe you were treated inappropriately or asked questions that were inappropriate or made you uncomfortable, discuss this with your recruitment consultant or the director.
  • Understand the recruitment process. Make sure you understand the employer’s next step in the hiring process; know when and from whom you should expect to hear next. Know what action you are expected to take next, if any.
  • When the interviewer concludes the interview, offer a firm handshake and make eye contact. Depart gracefully.
  • Take notes. After the interview, make notes right away so you don’t forget critical details.
  • Write a thank-you letter to your interviewer promptly.

 Interview Don’ts & How to Avoid Them:

  •  Poor presentation of portfolio documents: Don’t falsify application materials or answers to interview questions. Take certified copies of your CV, ID, drivers, certificates, letters of  recommendation and latest payslip.
  • Weak communication skills.
    Non-verbal communication or body language plays a crucial role throughout the interview. A poor handshake may weaken your chances of getting hired right from the very beginning. Also remember to make eye contact, avoid fidgeting and looking at your watch or cell phone (which should not even surface in an interview). Be aware of your body language–it may not be obvious to you but the interviewer will easily notice it. Poor verbal communication skills will almost certainly decrease your chances of getting hired. Giving a long, rambling answer to a simple question demonstrates an inability to concentrate and process relevant information. Avoid using any slang language–stay professional no matter what. Listening skills are also vital: don’t spend so much time thinking about your answer that you’re not paying attention to the question. Don’t start your sentences by “to be honest with you”….
  • Don’t go to extremes with your posture; don’t slouch, and don’t sit rigidly on the edge of your chair.
  • Don’t chew gum or smell like smoke.
  • Arrive to interview with other. Don’t take your parents, your pet (an assistance animal is not a pet in this circumstance), spouse, fiance, friends or enemies to an interview. If you are not grown up and independent enough to attend an interview alone, you’re insufficiently grown up and independent for a job. (They can certainly visit your new city, at their own expense, but cannot attend your interview).
  • Don’t spread all your belongings on the interviewers table, respect their space.
  • Failing to research the company.
    Be prepared to demonstrate an awareness of the company and the position for which you are applying. It’s going to be obvious that you did not do your research if you ask the interviewer to tell you more about the position or what the company does or the company vision etc. Read the job description advertised. Check out the company website. Know the organization the industry and competition. On the other hand, don’t go overboard with your knowledge and start showing off. When you know something about the company, wait for the right moment to share it. Do not interrupt the interviewer to tell them you already know the information. Wait until they have finished and then add a comment to what they just shared. 
  • Dressing inappropriately.
    When in doubt, err on the side of too formal. It is unlikely that there will be a good reason to show up for the interview casually dressed. Every company has its own dress policy, and it is a good practice to dress one level above what is acceptable for company. When you get the job you can adjust your dress code accordingly. Opt to wear approachable colours to invite trust and conversation.
  • Being late or too early.
    NEVER BE LATE. Develop a habit of being on time. It’s also important not to turn up too early because it creates the impression of having too much time on your hands and being desperate for the job. Five to ten minutes early is a good rule of thumb. Allow enough time for the interview (one hour is reasonable); the interviewer is taking the time to see you and you should award him or her the same courtesy.
  • Being negative.
    It’s important to have the right attitude during an interview. Never complain about your current job or boss and stay enthusiastic throughout the interview. Don’t use negative words in the interview such as “can’t” or  “ unable” or “personality clash” or “weakness” or “issues”, etc. Be careful to treat everyone you meet with courtesy, including the receptionist. Many companies watch to see how you treat their staff. It gives them an indication of how well you might fit in to the company.
  • A job search can be hard work and involve frustrations; don’t exhibit frustrations or a negative attitude in an interview.
  • Asking inappropriate questions.
    At the end of the interview ALWAYS take the opportunity to ask questions. By paying attention during the interview, you will ensure that you don’t ask about something that was already discussed. It’s ok to make notes in the interview and also take some time before the interview to think about the position, what it involves and what kind of information you need to know to learn more about it. Have several questions prepared before you go into the interview. Avoid asking questions about salary and benefits during the initial interview as these are only appropriate once you have been offered the job.
  • Reveal confidential info of your current employer.  Never reveal confidential information of your current employer to the interviewer. Your integrity is assessed this way. If the interviewer appears to probe brush him or her off politely and continue with the interview. Know beforehand what is confidential to your business and what isnt so you don’t come across as reserved and secretive in the interview.
  • Blame others for your shortfalls. ake ownership of your successes and failures. It’s ok to make mistakes and to fail but not to take accountability in this regard is one of the biggest weaknesses one could have!
  • Don’t act as though you would take any job or are desperate for employment.
  • Don’t give the impression you are only interested in salary; don’t ask about salary and benefits issues until the subject is brought up by your interviewer.
  • Don’t act as though you would take any job or are desperate for employment.
  • Don’t make the interviewer guess what type of work you are interested in; it is not the interviewer’s job to act as a career advisor to you.
  • Failing to follow up.
    Be persistent but reasonable. Send an email and thank you note after the interview, thanking the interviewer for their time. By following up and letting the recruiter know that you are still interested, you will increase your chances of getting a job.
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2012 is the year of Change and Transformation! Transform yourself from within – Look into your Personal Branding…

January 12, 2012

Are you part of the group of people who need to re-look at their personal branding in order to achieve?

Personal Branding is an INTERNAL process that drives EXTERNAL performance and results.

There are 2 main types of people in this group:
POSITIVE (glass half-full outlook) or NEGATIVE (glass half-empty outlook) and ALL of them search outside of themselves for the things, items, places, positions or people that will “fix” their problems for them.

The type of solutions that these groups find most appealing is a “one size fits all” solution; one that fixes all of their problems – or if not all, then many.

But whether these solutions promise to “make them” – happier – more attractive – more popular
or “get them” – a promotion – a better job – a new business – a financial windfall…there’s something missing from these sorts of fixes.

These solutions distance people from their need to address how their internal perceptions
and performance impact their external reality – and that’s a problem.

While all of the goals listed above ARE totally achievable, a person’s INTERNAL perceptions
and performances need to change if they want to get significantly different EXTERNAL results.

But when an individual who wants their own personal brand is supposed to “get it” by listening to numerous branding metaphors and examples, all they “get” is frustrated!

Hearing an inspiring success story that you’d like to emulate gives you MOTIVATION, but it doesn’t give you the KNOWLEDGE, PROCESS or MECHANICS you need to ACHIEVE your desired result.

The famous quote, “Those who can — do. Those who can’t — teach.”
coined by Henry Louis Mencken, “an American journalist, essayist, magazine editor, satirist, and acerbic critic of American life and culture.” often rings true.

Many people think that personal branding is exclusively for celebrities such as Beyonce Knowles or Kim Kardashian, yet each and every one of us is a brand.

Personal branding, by definition, is the process by which we market ourselves to others. As a brand, we can leverage the same strategies that make these celebrities or corporate brands appeal to others and we can build brand equity just like them. We can also have just as much presence as most startups and mid-size companies and products.

Follow these simple 3 steps to revamp your “Personal Branding”:

Step 1: Discover your brand:

The single biggest mistake people make is that they either brand themselves just for the sake of doing it or that they fail to invest time in learning about what’s in their best interests.

The key to success, and this isn’t revolutionary, is to be compensated based on your passion. In order to find your passion, you need a lot of time to think, self-reflect, and research online to figure out what’s out there.

Brand discovery is about figuring out what you want to do for the rest of your life, setting goals, writing down a mission, vision and personal brand statement (what you do and who you serve), as well as creating a development plan, a work-in-progress plan.

Have you ever been called intelligent or humorous by your peers or co-workers? That description is part of your brand, especially if you feel those attributed pertain to you.

To know if you’ve discovered your brand, you need to equalize the following:

Your self-impression = How people perceive you

Step 2: Create your brand:

Now that you know what you want to do and have claimed a niche (your area of expertise and specialization), at least in your mind, it’s time to get it on paper and online. The sum of all the marketing material you should develop for your brand is called a Personal Branding Toolkit. This kit consists of the following elements that you can use to highlight your brand and allow people to easily view what you’re about.

Network your personal brand! Follow these simple steps and begin networking yourself the right way…

1. Wardrobe: Your personal style is tangible and is extremely important for standing out from the crowd. Select clothing that best represents and express you, because it will be viewable through your pictures/avatars online, as well as when you meet people in reality. Get a makeover if you feel it’s necessary.

2. Your CV/Resume/cover letter: These are typical documents that you need for applying for jobs and securing interviews. Be sure to prioritize each document with information custom to the target position. Take your CV/resume online and add social features to it promoting your personal brand to the world and making it shareable.

3. Business card: It doesn’t matter if you’re a college student, a singer, a CEO, or a consultant, everyone should have their own business card. The card should contain your picture (personal preference), your personal brand statement (such as Systems Financial Accountant), as well as your *preferred* contact information and your corporate logo if necessary.

4. Portfolio: Whether you use a CD, web or print portfolio, it’s a great way to showcase the work you’ve done in the past, which can convince someone of your ability to accomplish the same results for the future.

5. LinkedIn profile: This is a combination of a resume, cover letter, references document and a moving and living database of your network. Use it to create your own personal advertising, to search for jobs or meet new people in the professional space.

6. Facebook profile: Over 160 million people have profiles, but almost none of them have branded themselves properly using this medium. Be sure to include an appropriate profile picture i.e. avoid any obscene gestures or unnecessary vodka bottles. Also, input your work experience and fill out your profile, while turning on the privacy option that disables people from viewing personal pictures and videos while also untagging yourself.

7. Twitter profile: This profile should have an avatar that is carved out of your Facebook picture and used in your LinkedIn profile. You need to use a distinct background, fill out your profile and include a link to either your blog or LinkedIn profile. Twitterbacks.com, developed by internet mogul Jim Kukral, has templates you can use to sculpt your very own Twitter background (Photoshop skills not included). Twitbacks.com is another solution that also lets you promote your Twitter profile.

8. Video resume: A video resume is a short video of you talking about why you are the best for a specific job opportunity. You get about a minute or so to communicate your brand and are able to send the link, once you upload it to YouTube, to hiring managers.

9. Email address: Don’t overlook your email address as not being a significant part of your toolkit. Most people use email over all social networks and when you connect with someone on a social network, you are notified via email, so get used to it. Your email address poses a great opportunity for your brand. For your address, use “firstname.lastname@gmail.com”.

10. Blog/website: You need to own yourname.com or a website that aligns with your name in some fashion. Depending on who you are, how much time you have on your hands and if you can accept criticism, you should either start a blog or stick with a static homepage. Those who blog will have a stronger asset than those who don’t because blogs rank higher in search engines and lend more to your expertise and interest areas over time

Step 3: Verbal and Non Verbal Communication – Communicate your brand:

VERBAL COMMUNICATION: Deliver the message that you want received – Often, this is easier said than done. Doing so means understanding the communications process and the potential “noise” that could derail the delivery of your message. The key is to capture your audience’s attention, establish and maintain credibility, and to be clear and concise in delivering your message.

You will need to understand:

The communications process; Words you should and shouldn’t use; Vocal skills (e.g. voice tone/pace); and  The impact of non-verbal communications (e.g. body language/gestures) and how to use it to your .advantage.

Use the 30-Second Elevator Speech: Get your point across quickly – In today’s fast-paced society, where every second counts, it is critical that you be able to verbally convey your message about who you are, what you offer and how it’s unique (your value proposition), and what you want very quickly, succinctly and with confidence. Not being able to do so may well result in a missed opportunity!

Develop and hone your personal statement and coach yourself in your own quiet time on delivering an effective speech.

Etiquette: Know when to do or say what – Displaying proper etiquette in various business and social settings is a reflection of your overall image. Whereas in the past, etiquette for many people meant which fork or glass to use in a formal table setting, today, etiquette has evolved to include important topics like email and phone etiquette, what order to introduce a group of business colleagues and much more. Find out of the latest etiquette dos and don’ts so that you have the confidence to navigate in the business or social setting before attending.

Never use words that have negative connotations or are too general and are irrelevant to a position description.

Watch your intonation. Remember, intonation comes across in all media including emails and telephone conversations. I personally have a love-hate relationship with Blackberry’s for this very reason. Emails sent in a hurry can be not so well thought out and hurtful to your client relationship. When we text and email in a hurry, we leave off valuable punctuation and salutations that can make or break deals and relationships.

NON VERBAL COMMUNICATION: Many people think of communicating as talking. However, there is so much more to effective communication using your personal brand.

Image is unavoidable. If you have an online presence, people are making assumptions and forming opinions about you. They’re putting you into categories. It’s what people do. The conclusion they reach constitutes your image, whether you like it or not.

Maybe you don’t care. Not caring is certainly an option. But if you’re a professional, and I’m assuming you are if you’re reading this, you should probably care.  Image is like a shirt. Every morning you get up and pick out clothes that will be appropriate for what you’re going to do and who you’re going to see that day. So you just have to decide if the “online you” that you present is a guy in flip-flops with two days of stubble, or a well-groomed guy in a smart suit, or something in between. And you can have an “off-duty online you” and a “professional online you,” no problem! It doesn’t hurt someone’s image to seem like a well-rounded, multi-faceted person.

Image shouldn’t be artificial. A lot of people seem to have that sickliness reaction because they perceive that a personal brand is a facade. But the general consensus is that you have to be genuine in this day and age. So, just be yourself. Or, more accurately, your image should reflect the parts of yourself that you want to show the world. If your image is a fabrication, people will figure it out eventually, so honesty is the best policy.

Watch your body language in meetings and events. We never put enough importance on body language, yet roughly 90% of what you communicate to people is done through your body language, via non-verbal communication. So by the time you’ve got all the “perfect” words and sentences, you’ve already made your point- non verbally. The key is to watch your body language and communicate with intention. Are your arms titly crossed? Open up your arms and show people you are open to receiving their communication. Are your hands balled up in fists? Open up your palms to release tension and be open to receiving communication and gesturing. Are you leaning in to the other party, showing that you are listening and actively engaged, or are you sitting back?

Lastly, be selective about the words you use, choose your words carefully. As lawyers and professionals we are taught to word-smith in law school. However, we are never really taught to monitor what comes out of our mouths and account for the impact our words can have on our clients, colleagues and support staff. Our words combined with our body language and intonations are powerful. Have intention behind your actions so that your personal brand is well reflected.

Deliver your brand: Once you have established your personal brand, it’s time to showcase it to the world, especially your target audience. Don’t be fooled by the myth that if you build it, they will come. Unless you’re the luckiest person on earth, you’ll have to actually communicate to other’s everything you’ve created.

Written by Sylvia Thomaides – Operations Director in Tricruit (Jan 2012)

Source: The internet and personal experience