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Interviewing Process

Enda Goodwin

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Field Agent

Field Agent

Components of the interview

The following items are part of most interviews:

  • Introductions and the interviewer’s request to “tell me about yourself.”
  • Your explanations of why you are looking for a job.
  • The job description and qualifications needed.
  • Positive and brief answers to the interviewer’s questions, with mention of your accomplishments whenever there is an opening to do so.
  • The interviewer’s answers to the questions you’ve prepared.
  • Finally, a sense of how the interviewer has responded to your qualifications and personal style.

Arriving on time

There is nothing worse than beginning an interview by apologizing for being late. Allow extra time for traffic or transit delays. If you are uncertain of the timing or location, make a trial run. Plan to arrive 10 minutes early so you can relax and look around before the interview starts.

You will have only one opportunity to make that all-important first impression, so keep in mind the following Keys to a Good First Impression.

  • Physical presence: Dress appropriately for the culture where you are interviewing, and when in doubt, dress on the conservative side. Be sure your grooming and hygiene are immaculate. Assume a posture that is neither too relaxed, nor too tense or forward. Express your energy and fitness. Avoid smoking or chewing gum. Leave your protective outer clothing and/or luggage outside.
  • Movements and mannerisms: Use natural gestures; no matter how nervous, do not clench your fists. Avoid fidgeting, scratching or fussing with objects such as a pen, glasses or change in your pocket. Move around naturally; avoid looking stiff or awkward.
  • Manner of speaking: Make sure you can be heard; be aware of the interviewer’s reaction to your voice. Do not mumble or drop your voice to a whisper toward the end of your sentences. Avoid sing-song or monotone recitations, which will give the impression that you are over-rehearsed. Also, avoid slang and colloquialisms like “you know,” as well as grunts, hems and haws, and other verbal tics.
  • Demeanor: Convey the appropriate amount of enthusiasm, warmth and sincerity to suit the dynamics of your interviewer. Be positive, avoid negative topics and don’t vent hostility. Smile!
  • Listening skills: Listen with full concentration and maintain eye contact 90 percent of the time (without staring). Indicate attention and acceptance with nods and smiles, avoid interrupting, allow silence when thought and reflection are needed.
  • Communication skills: Mirror the style and pace of your interviewer. Answer forthrightly and credibly, and stop when you have answered the question. Don’t over-elaborate with details or anecdotes; don’t ramble or interrupt. If you don’t know something, say so. Clarify a question if you don’t understand it. Listen and think before you speak.
  • Interview hints: Get names and exact titles. Elicit company or departmental needs early in the interview using open-ended questions. Weave in your strengths and accomplishments in response to those needs. Respond to doubts or objections positively without being defensive.

Selling yourself

To be successful in an interview, you’ve got to sell yourself. Since this may be a new attitude for you, here are some tips.

  • Find out the employer’s needs: A good salesperson doesn’t start selling until he/she gets an idea of the customer’s needs. Before explaining how you can contribute, get the employer to talk about the job and the problems the department faces.
  • Be friendly and relaxed: The interviewer is human too. He/she wants to work with pleasant, likeable people. If the interviewer enjoys your time together, he/she may overlook your lack of a skill or two. Discuss your accomplishments often and appropriately.
  • Observe and help the interviewer: Is the interviewer having trouble coming up with the right question? Help him/her by asking, “What else would you like to know about my background?” If the interviewer is glancing at his/her watch, make your answers shorter, or ask if he/she has another appointment.
  • Wrapping up: You know the interviewer wants to end the interview if he/she stands up, asks if you have any more questions, or begins to thank you for coming. For your own peace of mind, pay attention to closure at the end of the interview. Because there is usually a great feeling of relief, many people do not ask the few simple questions that can remove some of the anxiety from the weeks following. Take note of the following questions. Bring them with you and make sure you leave enough time at the end of the interview to collect this information. These questions can also be asked as you are walking out with the last interviewer or preparing to leave.
  • Interview closure questions: What are the next steps? What is the timing? How many are you planning to interview? Where am I in the interview sequence? Will there be additional rounds of interviews? When will you notify the candidates?

Avoiding traps

“Why did I say that?” is frequently heard from applicants who have fallen into traps. Here are some common traps and how to avoid them:

  • Giving too much information: Answer only the question that was asked, and be brief. Avoid boring details and negative comments. It is better to give too little information than say too much.
  • Do not promise too much: Interviewers quickly see through statements such as, “I can do anything. I’m sure I’ll have this area’s production up by 50% in no time.”
  • Arguing with the interviewer: Even if the interviewer is wrong, it is unwise to get into an argument. This person has the power to hire you, or to pass you on to the hiring manager. He/she is both “judge and jury” in the interview.
  • Answering embarrassing questions: Don’t give long explanations; they arouse suspicion. Give a brief answer and stop talking. Many interviewers will move on and not question you further. Example: “Our industry has been experiencing some tough economic times, so I understand the company’s move to a cheaper area. My goal is a challenging position where I can continue to contribute.”
  • Letting the interviewer ask all the questions: You will appear to lack initiative and interest. And you will come away with most of your questions about the job unanswered.
  • Silence: Do not let a period of silence encourage you to say the wrong thing. If a silence becomes uncomfortable, break it by asking a question of your own to make sure the conversation flows freely.
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