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Preparing For Your Job Interview: What You Need To Know To Be Successful
In the limited time an interviewer has with you, their mission is to know you and assess your worth, especially in relationship to the other candidates interviewed. Asking you questions is the way they accomplish that mission.
You'll be asked to tell the interviewer about yourself, your qualifications (especially as they pertain to the specific opening), your professional background, your likes and dislikes, your strengths and weaknesses, and your goals. So the first step is to know yourself. Be prepared to talk about your skills, competencies, qualifications and accomplishments. Understand your strengths and weaknesses. Explore the goals you have for yourself ? both current and future.
Especially know how to convey the value you bring to the table ? the strengths, unique gifts and marketable assets that are distinctly yours. Know your value proposition; it describes your worth. It is what uniquely defines you, and differentiates you from the crowd. If you want to stand out in the huge ocean of candidates that represents your competition, you need to become fluent in this arena.
You may also be asked why you left your previous position. This is where the interview can get a bit tricky. How you answer this question can make or break your chances. No matter how challenging your supervisor was or how grueling the workload or the sixty-hour weeks were, you must frame your response in a positive light. If you left your previous employment because you were downsized, that's ok. That's happened quite a bit in the past few years. If you resigned, be very careful how you state this. Your attitude can enhance or end your chances. Be honest, and be sure to indicate your desire for stability as an overriding factor.
Keep in mind that while your answers will help the interviewer assess your skills for the position at hand, it's how you respond that more importantly determines your overall fit with the company. Personality is ninety percent of the battle. You may answer a question factually, but your attitude might tell them no. On the other hand, it's far better to establish a rapport with your interviewer than to answer every question correctly. A skill can always be taught, but when was the last time you successfully altered someone's personality?
Find out everything you can about the interviewer's quirks and traits. Is the interviewer confrontational or laid back, serious or informal, friendly or stern? What is their position within the company, and how long have they been employed there? Are they the decision-maker and therefore in a position to make you an offer? They may simply be a screen, filtering out all the non-viable candidates from further review by higher-ups. If they are a screen, try and discover upon whose shoulders the hiring responsibility falls.
You need to learn as much as you can about the position for which you are interviewing. Why does the position exist ? are you replacing someone or is this a new position created because of company growth? If you are replacing someone, is it because they retired, resigned or were terminated? Understand the fundamental responsibilities of the position, especially in relationship to similar positions you have held in the past. Know what possibilities exist for your growth within the position and the company.
Research the company, using Google, Dunn & Bradstreet, Hoover's, Standard and Poors, or any of the other sources of corporate information. Who are the company's competitors in the marketplace and what percentage of the market do they own? Are their processes state of the art and at the cutting edge of technology? Are they a public company or privately held? If public, how are they perceived by investment advisors, what is their earnings track and how has their stock performed? If a privately held company, is it a family-run business with non-family members being in the minority? That would be ok; however, it could affect your chances for future promotions and growth.
Know the industry. The company might be at the forefront in terms of their processes, sales and marketing efforts, and growth, but its industry may be on its way out. If you see a delicious-looking apple growing on a dying tree, you might hesitate before pulling it off and taking a bite.
Do your research in all these areas so you can be well-prepared. Get on the Internet and find out everything you can. Make phone calls. Make sure you know all there is to know, so that you will go to your interview with great confidence and self-assurance.
Come to the interview dressed appropriately. Establish a comfort level early in the interview and maintain that rapport throughout. The initial handshake must be firm but not gripping. Eye contact is critical throughout the interview. How you sit in your chair and shift your posture can make or break your effectiveness. Remember, you're there to sell yourself, so be sure to ask for the offer before the interview is over. Fully armed, you can ask all the right questions and come away a success.
Copyright © 2005 TopDog Group All rights reserved.
David Richter is a recognized authority in career coaching and job search support. He has spent many years in recruitment, staffing, outplacement, counseling psychology and career management spanning most industries and professions. David founded TopDog Group in response to the needs of job candidates to have a higher quality of career coaching and support available on the Internet. David understands the mechanisms for success. He has formulated specific strategies anyone can use to secure interviews and receive offers. His extensive knowledge and experience sets David apart in this field, allowing him to offer a wealth of information and a vast array of tools, resources and strategies not found anywhere else. He has shown countless job seekers how to differentiate themselves and leverage their potential to the highest possible level, making a real difference in their careers. David holds both a Bachelors and Masters in Electrical Engineering and a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology. David's website address is: http://www.procareercoach.com
10 Things to Do to Get the Job
10. Understand all of the opportunities available to you. Don't just assume that you can only work at the standard place of employment for your area of study. The key to finding a great career is to think outside of the box. Don't get caught being narrow-minded when considering where to apply your skills and energy. Every firm needs accountants, project managers, sales people, etc. 9. Get to know a successful person. Your dad's friend doesn't count if he doesn't know you. You must be able to find someone that has had decent success in any field and become their new friend. The tendency for those that are mentored to go much farther in their career is significant. You can take the world on all by yourself or you can benefit from the experience and wisdom of others. Mentors can make all the difference at every stage of your career. 8. Learn to sell yourself. You have a lot more to offer than you may think. Whether your history is full of experience or education, you are bringing unique qualities to a company. You must learn to express your skills in a succinct and convincing manner. It may feel like boasting at first, but your ability to sell yourself will help you tremendously. 7. Network in professional associations. If you really want to make an impression, meet people that already work in your industry. Volunteer with them for projects and get to know them. Building a relationship is the fastest way into a company. Learn what they do and what you should do to get ahead in the field or at a particular company. These people are there to make friends and network as well. Don't be shy about your professional ambitions and you will get very far. 6. Network inside the company. If you want to ensure your role at a company then you need to get to know several people in the company. No matter what you may be applying for, you will be competing with others to make an impression with people. The fact is that people love to work with those that they trust and like. If you can make a good impression with multiple people inside a company, you have a built-in competitive advantage when deciding to hire you or another qualified candidate. Use professional organizations to meet company employees if you can. For the more direct route, try contacting a manager in the department you want to work in to meet and ask questions. If you are personable, you will probably not have any problems getting to know a few people inside a company. 5. Bring something to your job. Just like JFK said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." If you have done your homework, you know what the company is doing now, where it is going, and what issues that your department is facing or will have to deal with in the future. Talk about what you can do in the interview and with as many managers as you can. Sure you are going to be told what to do, but never underestimate the impact of taking on extra responsibility. You may not be applying for a management position, but this could help you get there. 4. Get your résumé to the best people. There are several strategies for marketing yourself to the decision makers in a company. Whatever your method may be, it is crucial that you get your résumé to the highest-ranking managers possible. If you can impress an executive with a great résumé, you will find your path through the company door wide open. If an executive passes along your résumé or just mentions that they received your résumé to a hiring manager, you are going to get serious bonus points. The desire to please is prevalent at many larger companies, so any chance you can take advantage of to get your name dropped (or recognized) by top management is a great. 3. Do your homework. You have heard this all of your school career, but it is even more important in the your career search. You can easily blow a great job opportunity by not knowing enough information about the company. Be sure to read industry news and trends to have a better perspective on the challenges and opportunities the company is facing. Read the company's website thoroughly. There is so much information readily available, including key personnel's names, positions, and contact info. Take advantage of this information and any other knowledge you can attain from the multitude of sources available. 2. Hit the pavement. Don't be afraid to show up at the company you want to work for. Nobody can sell yourself like you can. Even if the company isn't advertising a position, they are almost always looking for great employees to hire. The information age has nearly eliminated the need for face-to-face contact, which is why it is so effective now. If you meet the people that you want to work for then you are demonstrating your commitment and confidence in yourself. The younger generation of job seekers have forgotten the importance of personal relationships in business, leaving many talented people wondering why they aren't being hired. Get out there and show that there is a person behind the résumé. 1. Ask for the job you want. If you bring quality skills and/or experience to the table, let it be known. If the open position won't challenge you enough, find ways to add responsibility. Tell interviewers that you want to make a difference at their company. Confidence in one's ability is key to landing great jobs. If the decision maker can see that you have a lot to offer and are willing to work harder than current employees, there is no decision; you are hired!
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