Answer Every Question Perfectly to Interview Your Best

March 31, 2011

Interview QuestionThere are literally thousands of possible interview questions. How do you prepare for them all? You can buy a book entitled something like “The 250 (or 500 or 700) Most Frequently Asked Interview Questions”, study the answers and pray that you get asked one of the questions you studied. Or, you can understand the basics and be prepared to answer any question you are asked.

Here are the basics of answering any interview question:

Be positive:
Avoid any possible negativity about anything. Being negative is the fastest way to turn off a hiring manager. Your last company did not go under because of stupid decisions; they were the victim of market forces. Your last boss was not inept she had unique approaches and different strategies. Your ride to the interview was fine even if you were stuck in traffic. You do not need to lie just avoid being negative put a positive or at least neutral spin on your answer.

It is not about you:
You are being considered based on the value you can bring to the company. All your answers should focus on what you will contribute rather than how the job will benefit you. Do not talk about a shorter commute, more money, or career advancement. Focus on answering question by talking about the benefits the company will derive from having you on board. Example, Question-“Where do you want to be in five years?” Answer-” I want to have gained experience in my position, taken on greater responsibility and be more of a contributor to the success of the company”.

Take your time:
There is almost a belief that an interview is a verbal test that is timed. The interviewer asks a question and you have five seconds to come up with the right answer, ie. the answer that pleases the interviewer. Take your time be thoughtful. There is no reason why you can’t say “let me think about that for a moment”. You can take 30-40 seconds to think and come up with a well reasoned answer. You don’t get extra credit for speed.

Whenever possible use examples and tell stories:
Every job candidate is hard working, a good team member, reliable, honest, multitasking, a leader, and dedicated; or so they all say. You have to prove it. You can prove it by giving an example or telling a story when you answer a question. “I am dedicated to getting a job done and here is an example of a time when I was dedicated…” Using an example or telling a story brings your answer to life and has more impact and validity.

So, get the books study the questions but keep the basics of answering any question in mind as you answer. Being able to answer any question in an interview will be one of your greatest interview strengths.

Use and interview presentation to answer questions

Be Like a Laser to Interview Your Best

March 23, 2011

LaserMany people are very proud of all the tasks they perform(ed) at work. When I do job transition workshops, attendees talk about wearing multiple hats, doing  tasks outside their job description, and being of value in many ways to their company.  All this is important and contributes to a persons work-esteem, however in an interview (and in a resume) focus on what is of value to the company that is considering hiring you.

Candidates try to load too many things into an interview and they lose focus. Candidates also tend to get too detailed thinking that the larger the volume of things they talk about the more persuasive they are. Too many details and too many tasks tend to confuse the interviewer and once confused they get turned off.

As I often state, the interview is a sales call. All good sales calls are targeted towards solving the buyers problem. Determine the problem and focus on it like a laser.

What specifically are you being hired to do. Look below the surface. A person being hired to do collections for a company is not just collecting money they are solving the problem of reducing accounts receivable and improving profits. Anything  talked about in the interview should have the ultimate goal of reducing accounts receivable and improving profits. Even a question related to getting along with co-workers or a supervisor should be answered in the context of how does the answer relate to reducing accounts receivable and improving profits.

By focusing on being the solution to a problem, your answers will be more targeted and less rambling. As each question is asked, think to yourself how does this relate to solving the ultimate problem. Then leave out anything that does not contribute to the solution. Also, if you are not asked a question that elicits a task or skill you have that contributes to solveing the problem, be sure to bring that out yourself.

To prepare for your interview first define the problem the job solves and then list all the things you can do that contributes to solving that problem. Bring the list with you to the interview and make sure you cover each thing on the list.

People only buy what they need and only hire you for the things you can do to solve the problem. Focus in on the problem, keep it simple and be persuasive.
Focus your interview with an interview presentation

Do You Know Your Competencies? You Should to Interview Your Best

March 11, 2011

High Performance

High Performance

Employers hire people based on their ability to perform a job. The ability to perform a job is based on the “competencies” a person brings to the position. What the heck are competencies and what do they have to do with interviewing?

Let’s start defining competencies by  doing some differentiation. Job descriptions typically list the tasks or functions and responsibilities for a role, whereas competencies list the abilities needed to conduct those tasks or functions. Thus, competencies are the basic skills you offer an employer and are independent of the specific job for which you are interviewing. Employers are primarily interested in your competencies and during the interview you should make sure the interviewer hears all about your outstanding competencies.

Here are the competencies you should be communicating:

time and moneyManaging Resources: Identifies, organizes, plans, and allocates resources

  • Time – selects goal-relevant activities, ranks them, allocates time, and prepares and follows schedules
  • Money – Prepare budgets, makes forecasts, keeps records
  • Material and facilities – acquires, stores, allocates, and uses materials or space
  • Human resources – assesses skills and distributes work accordingly, evaluates performance and provides feedback

information Managing Information: Acquires and evaluates information

  • Acquires and evaluates information
  • Organizes and maintains information
  • Interprets and communicates information
  • Uses computers to process information

systemsUsing Systems: Manages complex relationships

  • Understands systems – knows how social, organizational, and technological systems work
  • Monitors and corrects performance – distinguishes trends, predicts impacts on system operations, diagnoses deviations in systems performance and corrects malfunctions
  • Improves or designs systems – suggests modifications to existing systems and develops new or alternative systems to improve performance

technologyUnderstanding Technology: Works with a variety of technologies

  • Selects technology – chooses procedures, tools, or equipment including computers and related technologies
  • Applies technology to task – understands intent and proper procedures for setup and operation of equipment
  • Maintains and troubleshoots equipment – prevents, identifies, or solves problems with equipment, including computers and other technologies

reading.writing.rithmetic Basic Skills: Reads, writes, performs arithmetic and mathematical operations, listens, and speaks

  • Reading – locates, understands, and interprets written information in prose and in documents such as manuals, graphs, and schedules
  • Writing – communicates thoughts, ideas, information, and messages in writing; and creates documents such as letters, directions, manuals, reports, graphs, and flow charts
  • Arithmetic/mathematics – performs basic computations and approaches practical problems by choosing appropriately from a variety of mathematical techniques
  • Listening – receives, attends to, interprets, and responds to verbal messages and other cues
  • Speaking – organizes ideas and communicates orally

thinkerThinking Skills: Thinks creatively, makes decisions, solves problems, visualizes, knows how to learn, and reasons

  • Creative thinking – generates new ideas
  • Decision making – specifies goals and constraints, generates alternatives, considers risks, and  evaluates and chooses best alternatives
  • Problem solving – recognizes problems and devises and implements plan of action
  • Visualizing – organizes and processes symbols
  • Knowing how to learn – uses efficient learning techniques to acquire and apply new knowledge and skills
  • Reasoning – discovers a rule or principle underlying the relationship between two or more objects and applies it when solving a problem

honesty,intergrity tee shirtPersonal Qualities: Responsibility, self-esteem, sociability, self-management, integrity, and honesty

  • Responsibility – exerting a high level of effort and perseveres towards goal attainment
  • Self-esteem – believes in own self-worth and maintains a positive self view
  • Sociability – demonstrates understanding, friendliness, adaptability, empathy, and politeness in group settings
  • Self-management – assesses self accurately, setting personal goals, monitoring progress, and exhibiting self-control
  • Integrity/honesty – chooses ethical courses of action

Here is the way to use this list-

  1. Think of those competencies which are most critical to the position for which you are applying. Be prepared to answer questions related to those competencies.
  2. Ask the  question, “What are the basic competencies a person has to have to be successful in this job?”
  3. Think of situations, on and off the job, where you used one of these competencies.  Write a brief description of the situation. During the interview, if you are asked a question where you can use an example of one  your competency do so.

Good interviews are based on a common understanding of the job and the skills a successful employee has to have. Thus, knowing about the competencies required to perform the job is critical for both the candidate and the hiring manager. Focusing on competencies assures a best “fit hiring” decision for both candidate and company.

InterviewBest helps organize and communicate competencies

InterviewBest helps organize and communicate competencies