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Growing your Interview Skills

(DRAFT) Still making edits

Robert Burnett

on 27 March 2017

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Transcript of Growing your Interview Skills

Growing your
Interview Skills

Robert Burnett

The interview

Researching Employers:
Basic Facts to Know
About interviews
and advance

Determines if there is a match between the employer’s needs and your interests and qualifications
2-way exchange of information between parties - each is checking the other out
Are you a fit for organization and team?
Good to know about any interview...
Lack of goal, planning, and enthusiasm
Inability to express qualifications
Unclear responses
Poor personal appearance
Lack of knowledge of company
Lack of social understanding
Poorly prepared questions
Telling an untruth
Why Employers Do Not Hire

Debrief after the interview and critique yourself

Write a thank you letter – 24 hours!

Follow up with company!!
After the Interview

Voice Tone/Modulation

Body language
Your communication
National Origin
Marital/Family Status
How to handle
illegal questions

Rephrase what you heard. Ask if this is correct?

“That’s a good question, let me organize my thoughts before I answer.”

“Can you be more specific?”

“That’s difficult to say, but let me tell you about a time when…”

“I don’t know the answer, but I would like to learn more. I can research that and get back to you.”
Clarifying Questions
Storytelling to Highlight our
Skills and Accomplishments
Common question type during initial interview stage

Best predictor for future behavior is past behavior

Prepare by recalling situations involving accomplishments, coursework, leadership, teamwork, initiative, planning, customer service

Focus answers on RESULTS
A quick note about
Behavioral Questions
Refer to a corrected and, preferably, unrelated weakness

Cite a lesson learned

Cite a learning objective

Turn your weakness into a strength
What are
Your Weaknesses?
Focus on work failures (preferably from early in your career)
Don’t pick anything so extreme that it disqualifies you from the job
Speak of the failure, what you’ve learned, and how you’ve prevented it from happening again
Professional Development
AKA: Times you've messed up
Why Should I Hire You Over Another Candidate?

“I can’t speak for the other candidates, but I can tell you that I have the qualifications that you are looking for to excel in this position, such as...”
Focus on skills the company would find useful

Only talk about your

Tell how you've prepared yourself and developed leading edge knowledge and skills

An example or story will be more memorable.

"I think the most important information I can give you is about some of my key strengths...”
Tell me About Yourself
(very important)
Prepare questions to ask the interviewer

Sell yourself one last time

Thank the interviewer and convey enthusiasm for the position

Ask about next steps

Obtain business card(s)
Closing the Interview

Listen attentively

Be aware of interviewer’s body language and style

Communicate, don’t dominate

Be enthusiastic; Pleasant attitude

During The Interview
Bring a portfolio
Copies of résumé/references and relevant certifications
You may not need these, but should be prepared

Do not smoke or eat odorous food before the interview

Arrive 10 minutes early
Map out your route the day before. Allow for traffic

Small talk/seating

Turn off your phone!
Arrival/Developing Rapport
Arrival/ Developing Rapport

Question and Answer

The Close
Stages of an Interview
What are my goals?

What are my personal strengths and skills?

What are my accomplishments?
Standard (1-1)
Types of Interviews
Short-term financial structure;
History of company

Formal or informal
training programs

Career paths within the

Who are the decision makers?
Products or services?

Size of organization

Parent organization, branch, divisions

Organizational structure

Geographical locations

Know the employer

Know yourself

Did I answer your question sufficiently?

Would you like to know more?

How can this work with your goals?

Is there more I should know?

What are you looking for?
Engaging the Interviewer
Personality Traits
Positive attitude
Maturity in behavior/judgment
Communication (verbal/ written)
Technology Skills
Analytical Skills
Interdisciplinary Knowledge
Employers Look For:
You need to know what you want

Interviews are decisive

The decision gets made early

The interviewer’s perception of your personality is critical

Confident behavior is valued
How to find information:
Employer website



Reference USA (research offered through library system)



Good practices and
what comes after

Thank You!
Be careful around these trick questions
Why were you laid off?
If job-searching while employed, how do you manage time for interviews?
How did you prepare for this interview?
Do you know anyone who works for us?
What is your dream job?
How does this position compare to others your considering?
If you won the lottery, would you still work?
It's a trap!
A common question is a trap
What are your salary requirements?
How much are you making at
your current job?
You should answer, but you don't have to answer directly.
Try dodging.
10 Trickiest
Interview Questions
Bad answer:
Worse answer:
Worst answer:
Weaknesses Worksheet
"I get distracted easily"
"I care too much"
"I don't have any"

Let's Discuss...


What are employers looking
for in an interview?
Do we want to
work with you?
What is your EQ (Emotional Quotient)

Common Sense
Will you mesh with
the current team?
Tip: You may not be able to learn all of this information.
Research as much as you can
How to dress
Always dress one level up from the expected
dress code.
Business casual is acceptable for most entry-level
or positions within labor or the trades
Professional/corporate attire is a must for all higher-level and office positions
Don't dress casually unless absolutely certain it is acceptable, though it's still best to just avoid it
General tips
Always relate an answer to the position and company you’re applying for
Never answer only “yes” or “no” to a question
Use examples from your previous experience in your answers
Make sure to answer all parts of a multi-part question. If possible, write down the different parts
Be able to talk about every part of your resume
Prepare to answer questions about gaps in your employment history
Never lie or stretch the truth
Always answer questions positively and never in a bitter, resentful, or angry manner
Be sure to use information from your research when possible
Handout: Interview Question Categories
Interview Salary Question
For Starters...
Prepare your interview clothes the day
before, and check for stains or tears

Make sure your clothing is clean and pressed

Wear clothes that fit

Avoid body-piercing jewelry (not counting women's earrings)

When possible, cover tattoos

No scents (perfume, cologne, aftershave)

Do not wear flashy jewelry or watches
Your style of dress is often what shapes their first impression. Make it count!
Dressing for
an Interview
Two-piece matched suit
Pants or knee-length skirt
Navy, black, gray, or dark brown
Nice blouse
Make sure it fits
No cleavage
Sensible leather shoes
Clean, match outfit
No stilettos or platforms
Carry only one bag or tote
Avoid unprofessional bags when possible
Avoid heavy makeup
Clean, trimmed fingernails
Two-piece suit
Clean and pressed
Conservative colors
Long-sleeved shirt, even in summer
Conserative tie
Belt matching shoes
Leather shoes
Clean and polished
Black or brown
Avoid earrings
Clean-shaven face or neatly trimmed facial hair
Clean, trimmed fingernails
Business Casual
Generally, the tips are the same as professional dress,
for both women and men, except...

Jackets aren't necessary

Less conservative colors, such as khaki, are acceptable

For men, ties are fine, but not required

Clothes, even when casual, still need to be neat and pressed
Body Language
No slouching/hunched shoulders

No gum

Eye contact

Firm handshake

From the moment you arrive to the moment you leave
Effective Body Language
Identify your key experience, skills, and professional characteristics
Craft a confident, strong, and memorable statement based
on the job description and your skills
Answer should set you apart from other applicants
Best Person for the Job
Tell me about a mistake you've made
"I missed a deadline that ended up costing us an account. There were a lot of factors that contributed to this, but ultimately, I was the one who dropped the ball. From that experience, I went back and analyzed what I could’ve changed. I discovered I was not nearly as organized as I thought I was. I asked my boss for suggestions on how to improve and a few months later I was able to score an even bigger account for the department."
Problem Solving
Coworker Interaction
What do you know about us?
Time Management
Questions you could ask
Describe the situation before you took action, the action you took, and the results of your action
For the action you took, explain your process and why you chose that action/solution
A good reaction to a problem is: pause, assess, plan, and act
"We were getting a lot of complaints about late deliveries." (Situation)

"I met with the staff involved in the customer delivery department and discovered that the problem seemed to be with the stock coming through on time.

I investigated and found that requests for new inventory were not processed fast enough. The backlog was in the orders department as they were not following up adequately with the suppliers. A system for regular follow-up was quickly implemented." (Action)

"This sorted out the stock problems and the delivery staff were able to meet their deadlines." (Result)
One of the best places to use the STAR method
What was a major challenge you faced
and how did you handle it?
Acceptable answers include: stay-at-home parent, care-giver for a family member, developed new skills, took full-time career related classes, volunteered, etc.
Tie in any job related skills you learned/applied during your time away from work
Never say you did “nothing” or just “watched TV”

What have you been doing since your last job?
"While the timing of my layoff seemed tough at first glance, it did allow me to return to school to finish my degree. I have also taken it upon myself to volunteer, and have mastered several new skill sets, such as..."
Why you?
What have you been up to?
How do you get along with your team?
Stay positive & professional
Show no resentment
This question is to determine if you will bad mouth your
new company and coworkers

Have you ever had difficulty working with a coworker?
"I've worked with someone whom I found difficult to like as a person. However, when I focused on the skills they brought to the job, their ability to solve problems and the two things I did appreciate, slowly my attitude towards them changed. We were never friends, but we did work well together."
Do you prefer to work alone or on a team?
"I've worked alone and with a team and, in my experience, they each offer advantages. I think I work best in situations in which I can collaborate on some tasks and work alone for others."
Do you like playing Solitaire or Bridge?
Be honest about your preference between team and
individual work, but try to be adaptable
Talk about positive or leadership experiences you’ve had
An experience you had on a sports team may be acceptable depending on the situation
Answers should show diplomacy, selflessness, compromise, respect, and/or communication
Dealing with adversity
"I actually work better under pressure and I've found that I enjoy working in a challenging environment."
How do you handle stress/ pressure?
Talking about how you manage stress inside and outside of the office is acceptable
Examples: Exercise, meditation, walking, organization, breathing techniques, etc.
Never say you lost composure, couldn’t handle a state of being, or were distracted from a task
Research the company
Know the company’s culture, vision, values, and mission
Answer in a way that would make a company/interviewer feel special and unique
Don’t be overly flattering, dotting, or disingenuous
What made you interested in working for us?
“Through my research, I've learned the outreach your company does with the community. Giving back is important to me and I was excited to see that there was a company that felt the same way. You can imagine how excited I was when I found out there was a job opening in my skill set here. I would really hope to be able to come to work every day to a place where I knew not only are my skills valuable, but my personal philosophies are as well.”
How do you stay organized?
• Employers just want to know you have some kind of system
• Explain your system; add you can use computer programs to do
• Evaluate your to-dos weekly and daily; pause, analyze, prioritize
• Priorities are established by: hard vs. soft deadlines, importance, supporting work, etc.
• Show you will ask for help when you may not meet a deadline
How do you handle competing deadlines?
“My method of managing multiple assignments is to update and keep track of each project independently, as well as prioritize my time in advance so that I know what, when, and how each aspect of the project is occurring, and update myself on its progress. The more I know about each project the better, because it will allow me to adjust accordingly and ensure that I meet each deadline successfully.”
Try to ask two, but have a few prepared
• A very important step in the interview process
• Questions should pertain to the position and company you’re applying for
• Demonstrate your knowledge of the company and job description through the questions you ask
• Never ask a question that may put you in a negative light (e.g., What does your company do? Did I get the job? When do I get paid? When is the soonest I could take vacation?)
Handout: 28 Questions to Ask
"Do you have any concerns about my skills or abilities I could address?"
Just answer the question.
If you don't mind providing the information, you can respond to the question and move on to the next one. Keep in mind, however, that you should only answer the question if you truly are comfortable providing the information -- it could come back to haunt you.
Refuse to answer the question.
Inform the interviewer that the question doesn't seem to be legal or relevant to the specific requirements of the job. Be forewarned, though, that such a direct response should really be saved for questions that are offensive or deeply troubling.
Don't answer the question, but answer the intent behind the question.
This is usually the best option, since it allows you to provide a tactful answer without sacrificing your rights. To answer the intent behind the question, try to figure out what the interviewer REALLY wants to know. For example, if the interviewer asks if you are a U.S. citizen (which is an illegal question), a smart answer would be, "If you mean to ask if I am legally authorized to work for you, the answer is yes." In cases like these, it's best to rephrase the question into a legal one and then answer it. This displays flexibility and composure --
strong job skills

Note: Contact the EEOC if you feel
you have been a victim of discrimination
Sexual Orientation (in CA, but not all states)
Full transcript