Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Interview Tips

Happen to caught a glimpse of this article: Interview Myths that Keep You Landing from the Job (by Karen Noonan, TradePub.com) Thought I'll summarise a little to share over here. :) My comments will be in blue and italics reflect excerpt from the article.

There are a number of common misconceptions related to interview best practices, experts say. Kera Greene of the Career Counselors Consortium and executive coach Barbara Frankel offer tips below that can help you stand out from other interview subjects, avoid frequent pitfalls, and secure the job.

Myth #1: Be prepared with a list of questions to ask at the close of the interview.

Frankel mimics Greene's comments. "It's a two-way street," she says. "I recommend asking a follow-up question at the tail end of your responses." 

The article says there is truth in this because you should always be prepared but the myth of waiting until it is "your turn" to speak will make it an interrogation instead of a conversation. Greene further recommends that you think of an interview as a sales call to sell yourself to the employer. Take the initiative to ask.

From my own experience, I did prepare a list of questions (in keywords) which I didn't use. But I try to ask in terms of career, growth and prospects of the company and my position.

Myth #2: Do not show weakness in an interview.

Recruiters conduct interviews all day, every day. They've seen it all and can see through candidates who dodge questions. "They prefer to hire someone who is honest than someone who is obviously lying," Greene says.

The article reassures that it is OK to have flaws as almost every interviewer would ask you. Besides, a recruiter who interviews all day would be able to see through you if you try to hide your flaw.

Myth #3: Be sure to point out all of your strengths and skills to the employer.

Frankel recommends doing a little groundwork before your interview so that you are best equipped to answer this question. She tells her clients to find out what the prospective job role consists of. "What makes an interview powerful is to give an example related to their particular needs or challenges that you have demonstrated in the past."

Provide three strengths, with examples. You will get much further with a handful of real strengths than with an unconvincing list of traits.

So far, I've always been asked what I can do for the company and I humbly share what I can do. No point promising more when you know your own capabilities. I try to answer based on the job description but it takes a while through the interview to figure out what exact strengths they are looking for. I've noticed when they piqued interest or share something similar to what you have mentioned, it might be something they are looking for.

Myth #4: Let the employer know your salary expectations.

One of the trickiest questions to answer in an interview relates to salary. Money talk can be uncomfortable, but it doesn't have to be. The fact is you don't even have to answer when asked about desired salary.

According to the book "Acing the Interview: How to Ask and Answer the Questions That Will Get You The Job!" a perfect response would be: "I want to earn a salary that is commensurate with the contributions I can make. I am confident I can make a substantial contribution at your firm. What does your firm plan to pay for this position?"

Greene suggests a similar response: "I prefer to discuss the compensation package after you've decided that I'm the best candidate and we can sit down and negotiate the package."

I did a mistake with a previous interview by not putting expected salary. I learned from that interview that it doesn't matter what the market value is, it's what you value yourself that's important. Remember to put a figure in your head before you go to the interview. At least, they can negotiate a figure you are comfortable with. Once you've got the job, your negotiation skills for higher pay will be lesser. It's more of performance based then.

Myth #5: The employer determines whether or not you get the job.

While yes, the employer must be the one to offer you the position, interviewees have more control than they often realize. According to both Greene and Frankel, candidates have a larger say in the final hiring decision than they think.

"They should call the interviewer or hiring manager and say: 'I'd really like to be part of the company,'" says Greene. "It can't hurt you. It can only help."

"Acing the Interview" encourages all candidates to conclude their interviews with one question: "'Based on our interview, do you have any concerns about my ability to do the job?' -- If the answer is yes, ask the interviewer to be explicit. Deal forthrightly with each concern."

I've encountered some companies who don't call me back after and interview. If you leave it at that, nothing will happen. I usually asked the interviewer for a time frame to hear from them. If by then, I don't hear from them I have to assume that I've been passed on. However, if you're keen on the job, do call to show your interest and you never know, they might appreciate your eagerness.


In short, after going through a few interviews again after a few years of hiatus, I find every interviewer different with an unexpected outcome. I have to admit I am rusty and inexperience but I've got to learn my own value and not to worry about wrong impression. Just be myself and leave the rest to the Lord! :)

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