TIPS & TRICKS FROM TAP

Consider, if you will, some of the greatest stresses in life; some you can avoid others, just happen.  If you could plan in advance and prepare for them, then maybe, they wouldn’t be so bad.  This guide will help you plan for and lower the stress during the interview.  You can never make a second first impression.

HOW TO INTERVIEW SUCCESSFULLY

The objective of the interview is simple and singular. TO GET A JOB OFFER! Once you have the offer, you then have the opportunity to accept or reject it. This may sound pretty fundamental but you would be amazed how many job applicants either do not know this or forget it during an interview ... sometimes with disastrous results. As you prepare for interviews and actually meet employers, remembering this objective is the single most important thing you can do.

You are NOT interviewing to:

  • Decide if you would like to work for the company being interviewed. There will be plenty of time to think this through after the interview or after you have actually received the offer. Do not let your initial opinion of the company distract you from your objective. If you don't get the job offer, it will not make any difference if you do or don't like the position or the company.
  • Broaden your knowledge of available opportunities. There are far more effective and efficient ways to learn more about the opportunities available to a candidate with your background. A "ho‑hum" attitude has no place in an interview. Leaving the employer with the impression you are just "shopping around" is usually a fatal mistake.
  • Learn what the particular company can do for YOU. The interview is your chance to show the employer what you can do for him or her and the company. If you don't get the offer, what the company can do for you will be of no significance. We will have information for you on salary, benefits, job responsibilities, advancement potential, the employer, department and company. We will answer any additional questions you may have concerning the position or company.

YOUR SINGULAR PURPOSE IS TO GET THE OFFER - whether it is good, bad, or average. You can always turn down an offer once it has been extended to you.

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PREPARING FOR THE INTERVIEW

There are several things you should do to prepare yourself for the interview. Your preparation before the interview can make the difference between receiving and not receiving the job offer. Pre‑interview preparations in the order of their importance are:

Prepare a Resume for the Specific Interview

Before your actual interview, you will have a good idea of the qualifications the company is seeking to fill the position. Be prepared to tailor your standard resume to fit the requirements of the position for which you are interviewing. Take extra copies of your modified resume to the interview even if the company already has copies of your standard resume.

Research the Company

The more you know about the company with which you are interviewing, the more comfortable you will be during the interview and the more prepared you will be to show genuine interest in the company. Your counselor will give you information about the company prior to your interview. The public library is also a good source of additional information ‑ particularly financial publications such as Dun & Bradstreet and Standard & Poor's directories,"Value Line", a publication which provides a summary and analysis of companies' operations and financial accomplishments, is another good source. The company may publish annual reports or other material, which may be helpful, as well.

Volunteer that you have done some research on the company on your own. You should be able to converse knowledgeably about the company and its industry. Your interviewer may be impressed that you know his company's bond rating or recent changes in the price of the company's common stock. Employers prefer to hire individuals who know and like their business and industry.

Be Prepared to Play by the Company's Rules

Follow whatever procedures are suggested or required without question or comment ‑­regardless of how ridiculous they may seem. Many companies have set procedures for interviewing. By complying fully and graciously, you can show the employer your general attitude and your ability to work well with others, regardless of the circumstances. Remember that the company's primary business is NOT hiring.

Plan Your Dress for the Interview

Your attire may seem trivial, but you would not want to miss a job offer simply because the employer did not like the way you were dressed. Dress conservatively. For men, research has shown a navy blue or charcoal gray solid or pinstriped suit with a current tie and a long‑sleeved starched shirt will make the most favorable impression. Women should wear a business suit with no frills or ruffles, closed‑toe shoes, light nail polish, and minimal, conservative jewelry. If you are not sure of the company's work environment, it is better to dress more conservatively than more liberally for the interview.

Arrive Early for the Interview

Plan to arrive at the company 15 minutes prior to the scheduled time. Arriving late or barely on time are negative signals to the employer. There is NO excuse for late arrival at an interview. Arriving early allows you time to compose yourself and to use the facilities to check your appearance before announcing your arrival.

Keep Yourself in a Positive Frame of Mind

The purpose of your interview is to discuss the job position, company and related topics. You are not meeting with the employer to discuss inconveniences or personal problems. If your interview begins negatively, it may be difficult to turn it into a positive situation later. Begin every response on a positive note. Rather than replying, "No, I don’t.” "No, I never had any experience." or "No, we never did it that way.” try saying: "That area was handled by our…” "I hope to pursue that area in my next career move." "Is that responsibility part of the daily requirements?" "Let me share where I think my experience fits."

After Your Interview

Immediately after your interview call your counselor. It is vital to communicate your feedback from the interview to your counselor so he or she may let the employer know how you felt about the opportunity. Your counselor will also let you know how well the employer felt you would fit the position and the company. Do NOT wait until you drive home, run errands, or return to work. If your counselor is not available, please leave your name and a message.

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ANATOMY OF THE JOB INTERVIEW

Interviews take various forms and are conducted in various sequences. You may, for example, begin in the personnel department and then be escorted to the offices of interviewing supervisors later. Some companies conduct interviews in conference rooms, individual offices or over lunch. Some companies require testing. You will probably be interviewed by more than one person. Although there is no standard "structure", there are recognizable steps or stages within any interview sequence. It will be up to you to recognize the interview stages and to act and react accordingly to each stage.

The basic parts of the interview are: The Arrival, The Initial Contact, The icebreaker, The Chronological Interview, The Topical Interview, The Interview Close and The Exit. Each part is important and deserves separate and detailed attention.

The Arrival

Typically, the first person you will meet is the receptionist who may or may not be expecting you. Greet the receptionist and tell him or her your name and the individual's name you wish to see. Then, follow his or her Instructions.

The Initial Contact

Regardless of whom you contact initially among the company personnel with the exception of the receptionist, your greeting should include a firm handshake and an enthusiastic "hello" followed by an introduction of yourself. If your first contact is a supervisor in the department offering the job, he or she may talk with you first, introduce you to other staff members and speak with you again before you leave. Your initial contact may be with a personnel employee within the company. He or she will instruct you on how to proceed with your contacts and provide a preview of your agenda while at the company. Remember to "play by the company rules" without question.

The Ice Breaker

In every interview, there is a short interval of "small talk" before "business talk" begins. You should respond with enthusiastic and pleasant answers to remarks and questions regardless of how trivial they may seem. This part of the interview is also your opportunity to get on a first‑name basis with the interviewer. After The icebreaker, do not hesitate to drop the "Mister" or "Ms." and simply call the interviewer by his or her first name.

The Chronological Interview

Unless you take action, the interview probably will be a completely "chronological interview" controlled solely by the interviewer. Unfortunately, this form of interview provides a poor framework for the interviewer to discover the skills and goals he wants in his new employee and for you to explain how you can satisfy those job requirements. Consider the chronological interview as part of the introductory phase of your interview. You should bring the chronological interview to a close no later than 5‑7 minutes after it begins. While being careful not to appear domineering or manipulative, you must take the initiative and subtly begin The Topical Interview. Shifting to The Topical Interview is not difficult, simply look for the first opportunity to ask this question:

" What exactly will my first assignment be?"

When the interviewer responds with a description of the initial responsibilities of the position, your opportunity to convince him or her that your qualifications match the position requirements has begun.

The Topical Interview

The Topical Interview is completely different from The Chronological Interview. Instead of being guided by a backward review of your previous jobs, The Topical Interview focuses on the responsibilities of the specific job for which you are interviewing. Remember that your strategy is to find out exactly what will be expected of you in the new position and to convince the interviewer that you have the skills to perform exactly as expected in the position.

The Interview Close

The Closing phase is perhaps the most important aspect of the interview insofar as making a final impression is concerned. If you close the interview properly, you leave the interviewer with a positive impression of you ‑ head and shoulders above other applicants for the position. The Close involves four steps:

  1. Briefly recap the reasons you believe you are qualified for the position.
  2. Regardless of the interviewer's response, STAY ENTHUSIASTIC!!!
  3. Make the statement that the position is exactly what you are looking for and that you would like an offer from the company. (As in all sales, always ask for the offer.)
  4. As you prepare to leave, tell the interviewer you would enjoy working with him or her personally.

By following this closing technique, you will have convinced the interviewer that you are definitely interested in the job, you can do the job and that you would like an offer to work with the company. Perhaps most important, you have convinced the interviewer that you will be a part of his or her team and that you are the right person for the job.

Very important:

You must convince all parties in the interview cycle that you are the candidate for the position. Assume each interviewer knows nothing about you and start your interview procedure from the beginning. Keep your responses consistent ‑ don't change your goals, duties, etc. from one interviewer to another. All interviews, regardless of who the interviewer may be, should be conducted with a topical interview and a strong, positive close.

The Exit

Your exit from the interviewer's office should be viewed as an additional opportunity to display a positive attitude about the position and company. At the interviewer's office door (or at the elevator), you should repeat your statement that you have the ability to do the job and that the position is exactly what you are looking for. You should also take this opportunity to tell the interviewer you would enjoy working with him or her personally.

Reinforcement at the Exit phase can make the difference between receiving the offer and not receiving the offer.

After the Interview

While the interview is still fresh in your mind, write down the strong and weak Points of the interview. By doing this, you will be able to review your Performance prior to your next interview and work on a stronger presentation Of yourself as the right person for the job.

On the day following the interview, call the employer to again express your interest in the job. Tell the employer you thought over everything discussed in the interview and that you are even more interested in the job now than you were when you left his or her office the previous day. Although the phone call is most effective, if you cannot reach the employer by phone, send a Mailgram with the above message.

By following this interview procedure, you have done everything possible to ensure a good chance of receiving an offer from the company.

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MOST DIFFICULT INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

When preparing for an interview, go through the following list of questions and write down appropriate responses. Don't memorize your answers; review them for content before your interview.

PERSONAL

  1. Tell me about you? Limit your answer to 2 minutes, don't ramble and avoid discussing details. Your answer should relate to the job opening – discuss Qualities, which show how you could benefit the employer.

  2. If hired, how long would you stay with us? “I am looking for a career opportunity; I would like a challenging position that would lead to additional responsibilities within the same company.”

  3. How soon are you ready to make a move? “I am ready to accept an offer from your company immediately. However, I don't want to leave my current position abruptly without letting my supervisor and coworkers know the status of my work. I would like to give my current employer two weeks notice. However, / would be able to start learning your software and operating procedures in the evenings during that time."

  4. What factors are involved in a move for you? /  Do you have family or Personal obligations that could keep you from moving? Do not give the interviewer a list of problems (or potential problems). Stress the importance of your position to your family. Your spouse/significant other wants you to work in a position where you are happy.

  5. Why are you leaving your present job? / Why did you leave your most  recent job? Stick to one response ‑ don't change answers during the interview! "Due to economic cut‑backs. " "Reduction in the work force due to economic problems. " "To obtain a position that offered more opportunity and challenge. Do not say I am always looking for a good opportunity, if this were the case then why should they hire you if you are just going to continue to look. Do not cast any negative shadows over your employer or boss,   no bridge burning parties you might as well get up and leave now. You should have a legitimate reason that takes little conversation like health reasons or family issues.

  6. How do you feel about leaving your benefits? "My main objective is to find a challenging and responsible position. Benefits are secondary.”

  7. Describe your ideal working environment. /if you had your choice of companies and jobs, where would you go? What qualities do you look for in a job? "My main objective is to find a challenging opportunity which will afford me the chance to make a meaningful contribution." OR “I have enjoyed all of my previous positions and accept each new assignment as a challenge and an opportunity to continue to learn and develop.”

  8. What do your co‑workers think of you? “I have always worked well with both the employees in my department as well as employees in other departments."

  9. Have you thought of leaving your current position before now? If so, what has kept you there until now? “I have been approached for a few opportunities. Although I have considered them, I have been pretty satisfied with my current employer and did not want to make a move unless I was sure I had found the right opportunity."

  10. Do you believe you might be happier in a different size company? If you received most of your experience at companies similar in size to the one with which you are interviewing, make a point of it in your response: "As you can see from my background, I feel I can perform at my best in a             -sized company.  However, I am flexible and can adapt to different working environments." If you have experience in companies of varying sizes, emphasize your flexibility: “As you can see from my background, I have been successful working in companies of various sizes."

  11. Do you have any objections to psychological tests? NO!

  12. Have you kept up‑to‑date in your field? If so, how? “I subscribe to publications and trade magazines. " (Name two or three of the publications and magazines published in your field of expertise.)

  13. How would you describe your personality? /Give me 3 adjectives that describe you. "I am friendly and like meeting and working with people." OR "I am successful, fair but firm and expect to give anything I do 110%." OR “I am friendly, hardworking, conscientious, truthful, organized, and thorough." (Pick any three.)

  14. What are your goals? /What are your short range (1‑3 years) and long range (4‑6 years) objectives? Talk about the job for which you are interviewing. "My immediate goal is to obtain a position, which is challenging and will offer me the opportunity to continue to learn and advance to more responsible and challenging assignments. " OR  "My immediate goal is to find the right position which will offer a challenge and afford the opportunity to reach my full potential.”

  15. What are you doing or have you done to reach those objectives? “As you can see from my background, I have been assigned increased responsibilities and more difficult assignments as I had the experience to handle them. I see this next opportunity as one more learning process to accomplishing my objectives.”

  16. What new goals have you established recently? "To continue to gain as much as possible from each new experience and opportunity."

  17. If you could begin your career again, what would you do differently? “I have been very fortunate to make the most of the opportunities offered to me, therefore I would not do anything differently.”

  18. What hours are you used to working? "I usually arrive at work early so I can organize my day and work until I finish the project I'm working on which often requires working past regular business hours. Basically, I arrange my schedule around projects at work ‑ I do whatever it takes to get the job done.”

  19. If hired, what do you see in your future? “An opportunity to contribute towards increased efficiency and profits which in turn will provide me with a challenge to continue to excel. I want to grow professionally by making meaningful contributions and gaining added responsibility. I feel promotions will come as a result of hard work.”

  20. What else do you think I should know about you? This normally is asked toward the close of the interview and provides you with the opportunity to either summarize your strengths or to point out any areas of your background, which you feel, was not covered during the interview. Have 2 or 3 strong points to make in less than 2 minutes, which will recap how you can make a difference to the company with which you are interviewing.

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SKILLS

  1. Why should we hire you? What can you do for us that someone else can't do? Relate past experience, which represents success in solving problems, which may be similar to those of the prospective employer. "As my record indicates, I have made a meaningful contribution to my previous1present employer and I will be able to bring the same experience to interviewer's company." OR ”My qualifications and experience give me the necessary skills and abilities to make a meaningful contribution to interviewer's company.”

  2. How long would it take you to make a meaningful contribution to our firm? "My previous experience has proven that I am a quick learner. Since this position and my previous assignments are similar, I will be able to become productive immediately."

  3. You may be overqualified or too experienced for the position we have to offer. Possible answers: strong company needs strong employees, experienced people are at a premium today, emphasize interest in a long‑term association with the company, employer will receive a faster return on investment because you have more experience than required. "My previous experience just means I can do a better job in a shorter period of time. In addition, I can assist your organization in more areas."

  4. Have you helped increase sales/profits? If so, how? Site one or two specific examples.

  5. Have you helped reduce costs? If so, how? Site one or two specific examples.

  6. How much money did you ever account for? If you were not directly accountable for money, explain your role in terms of budgeting, sales, etc. (profit or revenue related).

  7. What were your most significant accomplishments in your current or most recent position? Site specific examples. "I assisted in the development of a new product line which increased the company's revenue by 23%. "

  8. Would you describe a few situations in which your work was criticized? "In regard to my work, my dealings with my Superiors and fellow employees has been very positive. "

  9. Can you work under pressure, deadlines, etc.? "I have never had a problem working under pressure or meeting deadlines. As you can see from my resume, many of my previous assignments were completed before schedule." OR “I have always been able to do my best work when under pressure or have short deadlines to meet. "

  10. What is your leadership/management style? “I can adapt to the management style of the company I work for as well as that of the individuals under my direction.”  

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SUPERVISORY SKILLS

  1. Are you or could you become a good supervisor? /Why do you feel you have management potential? Give an example. "I was responsible for a support staff involving 5 employees made up of 4 project assistants and a secretary." OR "/ was not officially a supervisor, however, I was responsible for various temporary employees in my department which involved anywhere from 1 to 6 temporaries at various times.” OR "As you can see from my background, each of my prior positions have increased in responsibility and authority. Based on this I am confident that can handle managerial positions."

  2. Did you ever fire an employee? If so, what were the reasons for firing the person and how did you handle it?

  3. What do you think is the most difficult task as a supervisor?

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INTERVIEWING THE COMPANY

  1. What do you know about our organization? Discuss products, services, revenues, problems, people, and history. “ABC Company employs 500 employees involved in the manufacturing of widgets. 1988 revenues were $56 million and you are presently expanding your operations with the addition of two new manufacturing facilities.

  2. Why do you want to work for our company? You would like to be part of a company project, solve a company problem, etc.  You like what you've heard about the company's policies, goals, management, etc. "/ understand your company is interested in employees who want to work hard and make a meaningful contribution.”

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POSITION

  1. Please give me your definition of… (The position for which you are interviewing).

  2. What position do you expect to have in two years/five years? “I have not identified a specific position down the road. I am more interested in the contribution I can make and feel with hard work, the right position will become available when I am ready for it."

  3. How would you structure this job? "I am not in a position to make this determination. I do not fully know how your company is structured or how each position relates to the other positions.”

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PREVIOUS EMPLOYERS

  1. What features of your current or most recent position did you like most/least? “I liked the opportunity to contribute and make a difference in my department and the organization. " OR “I enjoyed having the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution requiring innovative concepts and teamwork.”

  2. What do you think about your current or most recent supervisor? "He/she provided me with the opportunity to continue to learn and make a more meaningful impact on both my position and my contribution to the over‑all operations. "

  3. In your current or most recent position, what problems have you identified that had previously been overlooked? /How have you saved your company or department time, money or unnecessary problems?

  4. How did you obtain your past positions? “Most of my prior positions were obtained through my own contacts.”

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QUESTIONS TO ASK THE INTERVIEWER

  1. Why is this position open?

  2. How often has this position been filled in the past 5 ‑ 10 years?

  3. What are the primary reasons given when past employees have left this position?

  4. Why did the person who most recently held this position leave?

  5. What would you like done differently by the next person who holds this position?

  6. What are some of the objectives you would like accomplished in this job?

  7. What objectives are most pressing? What would you like accomplish in the next 2 to 3 months?

  8. What are some of the long-term objectives you would like accomplished through this position?

  9. What freedom would I have in determining my work objectives, deadlines, and methods of measurement?

  10. What type of support does this position receive in terms of people, finances, etc.?

  11. What are some of the more difficult problems one would have to face in this position? How do you think these could be best handled?

  12. Where could an employee go who is successful in this position and within what time frame?

  13. In what ways has this company been most successful in terms of products and services over the years?

  14. What significant changes do you foresee in the near future?

  15. How will the performance of the employee in this position be judged? What accounts for success?

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