21 Tips for A Successful Job Interview

How to Have A Successful Job Interview

If you have had experience interviewing others, you may have seen some surprising things. I know I have:

  • The candidate who stopped mid-answer to answer a text. And then did it again.
  • One man had resumes with him and handed me one that was stained with coffee.
  • On several occasions, the interviewees asked questions so basic that it was obvious that they hadn’t even done a cursory internet search on our company.
  • One person, incredibly late for the meeting, started aggressively by asking why we didn’t have enough parking to accommodate all visitors.
  • I vividly recall someone so negative about their prior employer that it made me pause.
  • And there’s the person who took the time to write a thank you note, but sent me the wrong one (he was obviously interviewing elsewhere).

There are some basic interviewing tips that are worth noting. I like this infographic by Company Folders of 21 tips. It may seem basic, but it’s a great checklist to review before your next interview.

Because it’s great to be memorable. But only for the right reasons.

Interview Tips


“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” -John Dewey


“Success depends upon previous preparation.” -Confucius

1 Sure Way to Kill Your Job Interview

Watch Your Words

He looked like the perfect hire on paper.

Relevant experience? Check.

Good education? Check.

Awards and accolades? Check.

References? Check.

Two interviewers in, he was impressing in a positive way. I was the third interviewer and asked him about his past employer.

That’s when everything changed.

His face immediately turned red. He took a deep breath. His jaw clamped shut and you could see the muscles in his face tense.

I suppose he could have recovered, but it only got worse.

He started to unleash his anger about how he was treated, who did what, why he left. There was an untold story and this was his chance to tell it.

Wrong answer.

 

“Silence is a true friend who never betrays.” -Confucius

 

Focus on the Positive

It almost never pays to malign your former employer whether on an interview or even within your social network.

Were you wronged? Let’s face it: no one cares.

And, when all is said and done, who is hurt more? You are. You become known as someone who is negative, someone who is bitter. It’s far better to say nothing.

 

“Saying nothing . . . sometimes says the most.” -Emily Dickinson

 

In my career, I have had the good fortune of working for some amazing companies. I learned from each one.

Incredible experiences. All positive. New skills. Lifelong friends.

I could choose to focus on the negative, too. But I choose not to.

I choose to celebrate what I learned along the way. And honestly, I really don’t have anything negative to say. My mind simply cannot grasp how anyone wouldn’t have a positive experience.

Choose to be positive. Describe your employer in positive terms. Explain what you learned.

You don’t have to be fake. You don’t have to give false praise. Be truthful, but focus on the positive.

Even the bad boss will have some positive attribute.

 

“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” –Zig Ziglar

 

3 Reactions to Your Complaints

7 Disciplines of A Leader

How to Help Your People, Team, and Organization Achieve

In the Seven Disciplines of a Leader, Jeff Wolf explores what leadership looks like when done right. Jeff has coached hundreds of leaders and offers his disciplines in order to benefit leaders at all levels of the organization.  I recently talked with Jeff about the leadership disciplines discussed in his book.

 

“Companies place the wrong leadership in the job 82 percent of the time.” –Forbes

 

How to Get Noticed

What advice do you give to someone who wants to stand out and get noticed as a leader in a large organization?

Learn what your company looks for in its leaders. See if there’s a competency model that identifies successful leaders’ strengths and characteristics. Study this model and be sure to practice the competencies. If no such model exists, seek out successful company leaders and talk with them to gain a better understanding of how they became successful.

You should also volunteer to lead small projects, which will provide useful leadership experiences and exposure. You’ll gain confidence and enhance the skill sets that are weak.

Always be curious. Seek new opportunities and experiences, and always be open to trying something out of your normal comfort zone.

I would encourage budding and aspiring leaders to create a plan, put it in writing, and then “work it.” Research proves that people who put their goals in writing are usually more successful.

Read as many books and attend as many training courses as possible, both within and outside of the company. Vary courses so you can experience a broad spectrum of leadership skills.

 

“A leader’s upbeat attitude is contagious and lifts morale.” -Jeff Wolf

 

There’s another important challenge to overcome: Learn the areas in which you must improve because we all have blind spots. We see some of our weaknesses, but it’s truly impossible to identify all of them.

It’s important for leaders to be positive and have a great attitude because they can either impart or sap energy. A leader’s upbeat attitude becomes contagious, lifting the morale of those around them. You can always teach skills, but you cannot always teach people how to be positive; they either have a great attitude or they don’t.

Be sure you are striving to work well with others and be aware how other people view you. When you stand up to speak in front of a group, do you exude confidence, present articulate, clear messages, and carry yourself well?

 

Coaching for Success

What is the most common reason someone calls you for coaching?

Coaching used to be thought of as a tool to help correct underperformance or, as I often call it, the “broken wing theory.” Today, coaching is used to support leaders, employees with high potential, and top producers in an effort to enhance individual capabilities.

We work in such a high-speed environment! Organizations are finally beginning to recognize the importance of helping leaders achieve critical business objectives in the shortest possible time, so they’re hiring me to speed personnel development.

I’m often brought into organizations to deal with a number of leadership issues. Providing feedback is one key area. As leaders move into greater levels of responsibility, they receive less—perhaps even no—feedback from others on their performance. The unfortunate consequence is stagnation. Critical leadership and interpersonal skills often reach certain levels, and the leader is given no opportunity to become an even better leader. Working one-on-one with an objective third-party coach offers these leaders a trusted advisor who can focus on behavioral changes that organizations are ill equipped to handle. Coaching develops extraordinary leaders. Extraordinary leaders produce extraordinary business results.

 

Have a Quick Impact as a New Leader

If you are a new manager, what are a few ways to have a quick impact?

Leadership is not rocket science. It comes down to living and leading by the golden rule: Do unto others as you want them to do unto you.1119003954

People make companies. As leaders, we often spend most of our time on strategy and improving bottom-line results, but what about our people? It’s our job, as leaders, to guide them, help them develop more skills, and increase productivity.

I think Walt Disney put it perfectly: “You can dream, create and design the most wonderful place in the world….but it takes people to make the dream a reality.”

For a quick impact, work to understand what your people want, not just what you want, and act accordingly. Ask your staff for their feedback with questions such as:

  • What can I do to make you happier here?
  • What do you find challenging about your work?
  • What’s energizing about your work?
  • How can I be a better leader for you to be successful?
  • What resources do you need that you currently don’t have?
  • What motivates you to work hard?
  • Do you feel appreciated and receive the praise and recognition you feel you deserve?

Often times a new leader’s first inclination is to become too friendly with people. After all, everyone wants to be liked. But by trying to become everyone’s friend, leaders run the risk of losing respect and influence. If your staff considers you to be one of the group, they may not respect your judgment on important issues.

Additionally, they may lose their motivation to achieve goals, fail to work hard, and assume deadlines are soft when they believe their “friend” will never reprimand them. That’s why leaders must avoid falling into the trap of becoming too friendly with their staff. The bottom line? You’re the boss—not a best friend! You cannot be objective and unbiased when staff members view you as a work pal.

 

“It takes people to make the dream a reality.” –Walt Disney

 

A Guide to Hiring Right

How to Conduct A Job Interview Without Getting Sued

This is a guest post by Johanna Harris. Johanna has been a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Labor and in-house labor counsel for two multinational corporations. She is currently the CEO of Hire Fire and Retire LLC. Her new book is USE PROTECTION: An Employee’s Guide to Advancement in the Workplace.

As a manager, one of your most important responsibilities is interviewing an applicant for an open job position. The key is to be probing and thorough and, at the same time, avoid any questions that could be interpreted as illegal or improper.

Not sure how to ask the question?

Sometimes managers ask illegal questions because they’re not sure how to acquire important information that they are in fact legally entitled to know. A manager may legitimately want to know whether an applicant can master all of the procedures required of the job. Unsure how to get at these qualifications, he asks the applicant how old he is – an illegal question. Or a manager may legitimately want to know whether an applicant is available to entertain clients in the evening. Similarly unsure how to address this issue, he asks her whether she has young children – again, an illegal question.

Four main areas to probe

During a job interview, there are four main areas you want to probe.

  1. Does the applicant have the skills that match the needs of the new job?
  2. Can the applicant be available at the times and places you need him?
  3. Does the applicant possess the core attributes that would make any person a valuable employee?
  4. Does the applicant fit within the culture of your organization?

Skills

To ask effective, legally permissible questions about a prospective employee’s skills, you need to do some homework. That means learning in detail the duties of the job, as well as the level of skill required to perform those duties. It also means prioritizing job responsibilities, as some duties may be more important than others. The formal job description is a good place to start, but it certainly is not the end. Talk to employees who are successful in the same position. Consult with users of the services provided by the new job. Check out industry descriptions of the job, too

Once you know exactly what the job requires, you can craft pointed questions to the applicant that relate directly to the job requirements. That includes her previous work or projects. “How does your experience in the design of user interfaces for retail store management carry over to the healthcare field?” “How does your experience in selling heavy equipment to agribusiness carry over to marketing pharmaceuticals?” There is nothing illegal about giving the applicant an assignment – to be completed either at the interview or at home – that shows whether he indeed has the specific skills required of the new job.

While your focus is on the specific responsibilities of the job, you can still ask more general skill-related questions that help you get a feel for the applicant’s attitudes toward work and interactions with peers. “Have you improved at your current job?” “What skills or experience do you still lack?” “How do you approach your work?”

Availability

An employer has the right to know whether the applicant can be available at the times and places necessary to complete the job. Your task as manager is first to determine exactly what kinds of availability the job requires and then to ask about them up front. “Can you work 15 hours of overtime each week?” “Can you be available to entertain clients approximately twice each month?” “Can you travel out of the city for monthly sales conferences?” “Can you fly to California in March of every year for the annual sales summit?” These pointed questions put the applicant on notice. If he cannot meet these availability standards, he is at risk of being fired. Putting these requirements up front can also give him a sense of comfort that he knows exactly what will be expected of him.

Mobility may be an important prerequisite for advancement in your company. If so, then you should explain that up front, too. You are entitled to inquire, “Are you prepared to transfer from our branch office to the national headquarters?” Even if you believe that applicants with children are less mobile, you cannot ask him a question such as, “So, what arrangements have you made for child care?”

How Body Language Can Define a Leader

Photo courtesy of istockphoto/AjFilGud

This is a guest post by Erin Schwartz. Erin is responsible for marketing and social media programs at www.123Print.com, a destination site for office supplies like business cards, labels, and other supplies.

In a tough market, job applicants must take every available opportunity to stand out to employers. In addition, in the business world, first impressions can be crucial in forming relationships.

Research suggests that as much as 93% of our opinion about other people is established within the first five minutes of meeting them

Unfortunately, a person’s body language can make him stand out in an unintended negative way. The statistics vary, but some research suggests that as much as 93 percent of our opinion about other people is established within the first five minutes of meeting them. And body language can play a huge part in creating those initial perceptions. Are you a confident and capable leader? Or are you conveying the image of a lazy person who will always require prompting (and could easily be walked upon if put in a management position)?

Think about how others may interpret these aspects of your body language:

Making an Entrance

Interviewing experts caution that the assessment of job candidates often begins before they enter the interview room. Convey confidence by entering situations with your back straight and your shoulders back. Offer a firm handshake with a smile that conveys self-confidence and trust.

Be Organized

In business dealings, body language that reveals nervous energy can help give the other side the upper hand. Therefore, make sure any materials you have with you are carefully organized so you don’t fumble around during a meeting.

Posture

Sitting with an upright, straight posture will convey more internal strength than leaning back in your chair, unless the situation is a relaxed or informal meeting with coworkers you’re comfortable with. In contrast, leaning forward too much can make one seem overly eager and can make others feel uncomfortable in a one-on-one situation.

Photo by Dreaming in the deep south on flickr. Photo by Dreaming in the deep south on flickr.