Human Resources South Africa|Friday, November 24, 2017
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How to Be Prepared For All Types of Job Interviews 

2. Spin a Negative into a Positive

Suppose you’re asked about your experience having managed people and you’ve never before done that. Your instinctive response might be to respond that you have no supervisory experience. Never answer “No”, “Never”, or “I don’t know”. Alternatively, use related experience to answer the question and illustrate your specific skills. For example, you might respond with “My background includes experience coordinating workload distribution among a team of 50+ personnel and responding to their specific inquiries about job assignments, deadlines, and resources”. This approach is honest (you never said you supervised anyone), and you’ve positioned yourself positively.

3. Use “Big” to highlight the “Little”

Suppose someone asks you if you have any experience with mergers and acquisitions. To organize your thoughts, make your response flow seamlessly, and make it easy for your interviewer to understand your specific experience in that area, use the “big-to-little” strategy. Start “big” with an overview of your experience in M&A transactions; just a few sentences to describe your overall scope and depth of experience. Then, follow up with 2- 4 specific, “little” achievements, projects, or highlights that are directly related. You might talk about your involvement in due diligence, negotiations, transactions, and/or acquisition integration. In essence, you’re communicating, “This is what I know and this is how well I’ve done it.”

4. Remember: You’ve passed the First Test…

Before you enter the interview remember you have passed the first test – You’ve been invited to the interview based upon your stellar resume, reputation, and performance based upon a telephone pre-interview. If you are meeting with top executives of the company they’re already interested in you. Their time is valuable. They wouldn’t be meeting with you if they weren’t interested. Approach the interview knowing you’ve got them hooked. Don’t be cocky, but use this knowledge to relax and present your best self. Be confident, poised, and work with the objective that you are there to “close the deal”.

5. Take the Initiative

It is likely that something within your resume, skills or experiences, may have been overlooked. Perhaps it was your experience with Supply Chain Management or Mergers and Acquisitions. It is your responsibility to introduce this information into the conversation before the interview concludes.

You might comment “before we end the interview I’d like to share some more information about myself as it relates to the position and your company”. Proceed with the information, making certain it is pertinent to the conversation and that you communicate all information that has value. It is important to produce this information whether or not the interviewer addresses a particular topic.

Understandably, the interview process is a stressful and difficult situation. Keep in mind your professional life is on the line. Remember to walk into each interview with an agenda of your desired outcome, and work towards that goal. Demonstrate and illustrate your qualifications and experience. Quietly control the interview process and paint a picture that positions you as being the ideal candidate for the job.

With that in mind, some people look great on paper… but miserably fail when presented with the opportunity of the interview. Here are some tips to keep in mind when approaching your interview:

o The Handshake

Keep the handshake firm, not too tight, and certainly not loose. It should last no more than 3 seconds. Maintain eye contact during the handshake and remember to smile.

o Talking too much

Don’t talk too much. Certainly engage in conversation with the interviewer, but let them set the pace. Speak slowly and deliberately. Maintain eye contact, but don’t glare.

Be comfortable with “uncomfortable silence”. You may be asked a question to which you respond, and the interviewer sits there as if they’re waiting for more. This may be a test of your patience and confidence. If you’ve answered the question to the best of your ability remain silent, yet poised for the next question. If it appears that the interviewer isn’t wavering you might inquire if your response was satisfactory, and whether they desire a more elaborate response.

o Previous Employers

Never bad-mouth your previous employers. Even if your last boss was a mean- spirited dictator, never present your true feelings about him/her. No matter how reasonable your complaints… you come out the loser. When faced with the challenge of describing your previous employers remember to focus on the positives. Certainly there were some admirable traits you recognized in your previous employers (He/She was diligent in overcoming any obstacles to completing a project. He/She showed no favoritism, treating everyone equally.)

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