Acing the Job Interview

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You have located your potential dream job, have sent your winning resume and finally received the much-anticipated recruiter call. Now what?  Our top recruiting expert Mary Springer CPHR, shares with us how to master the recruiting process and ace the interview.  

You got the recruiting call. Now what?

  • You could be getting a job that will change your entire life, so give it the importance by preparing yourself for the interview. Bookmark or print that job upfront, have it in a binder – and when you get the unexpected call, you would be ready to pull it out. Don’t blow the opportunity. There are people who apply for many jobs and don’t know who is calling or what the company does. If that’s you, I know you are not the best candidate.

But since job search is a two-way street, look out for yourself as well by learning if they are the right employer for you. The quality of the recruiting experience does tell a lot about the company. Do they have a professional HR? Do they respond timely or does your resume lie around for 2 months and they only call you back once you have found another job? You can also tell a lot about the employer by the interview questions.

How would our readers know if this is the opportunity that could turn into their dream job?

  • The experience starts as soon as you enter your prospective workplace, with the impression of the environment you walk into. Pay attention to the receptionist and other employees, try to feel their energy. You will be able to tell the difference between a place with a bunch of happy faces and a place where people are grumpily looking at the ground waiting for their next coffee break.

I recently visited a client’s workplace. As I walked through the shop with the CEO, I noticed that he knew every worker by the name, he addressed everyone on our path and you could tell people were happy to talk to him.  As it turned out, this company had zero employee turnover. It doesn’t really matter what role you apply for in the company – if the CEO is a good person who sincerely cares about people – it’s a very good sign.

What to watch for during the interview?

  • Pay attention to the person conducting the interview, notice their body language. Are they making assumptions about you and trying to catch you in a lie? Or is it an open dialogue where your interviewer sincerely wants to learn about you and what you have to bring to the table?

People often ask me what hiring managers are looking for with those “trick” questions…

  • Such as “what is your biggest weakness?” I still don’t understand the purpose of this question – is it to screen out the candidates with undesirable traits? Often people lie in response to this question as they don’t know what to say. I don’t ask this question – I personally don’t want to share with strangers my greatest weakness and wouldn’t want to hire someone who does. Do not respond with something as silly as “I have no weaknesses” either. I would rather say:               “I don’t believe I have a weakness that would impact my ability to do the job, but do you have something specific to ask?” or “Nothing stands out that would be a concern for the company. I feel like I have overcome my weaknesses when it comes to work”.

Some job applicants find it difficult to come up with things to ask when it’s their turn to ask a question during the interview.

  • The best thing to do is to ask everyone who is interviewing you what they like about working for that particular company. Listen carefully to their responses to see if this is something that will make you happy. On the other hand, if you don’t have a question to ask – you can say: “Oh I did, but you already answered it.” In that case, you have to have in mind what your question was. But never make a generic inquiry such as:  “What do you guys make?” or worse yet “What is the name of the company?” Go back to the point on doing your own research before applying.

There is a saying that people leave managers, not companies. What is your stand on the importance of getting the right relationship with the manager?

  • It’s always important of course, but depending on what level role you are applying for, you get a slightly different view. If you are applying to work in a shop, you will be closely involved with your supervisor. Ask yourself – is this the person I want to see every day? At a higher level position, you don’t get that much interaction with your manager, and you have the Manage your Manager option. You will have to be mindful that your manager has an interest and a need, and by managing those expectations, you can be in charge of that relationship. Keep in mind it works both ways – the hiring manager may not like you either.

 Thank you very much, Mary. And finally, what is the modern day dress code for job interviews?

  • If you are applying for a top leadership position, definitely, wear a suit. For any other professional job, slacks and a dress shirt will do.  For a woman – the same or a skirt, instead of pants. Basically, look normal and be yourself.

In the end, remember that as much as you need the job, the hiring manager needs you as well. The company is covering the current gap one way or another, so they are on a mission to find the right candidate. Be careful not to jump into a toxic environment out of desperation, in order to avoid unnecessary explaining at your future job interviews.

Share your experiences with being on either end of the interview process. What worked and did not work for you. 


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  1. I have really enjoyed your recent trilogy of career related posts Natella. What a great follow up this week to Mary’s resume tips with a focus on the job interview itself. I agree that open dialogue is one of the best ways for a hiring manager to understand the potential fit of a candidate as well as the candidate’s interest in pursuing a potential career. Thank you and thanks to Mary for sharing best practices.

    1. Thank you Jason for your feedback. I have quite enjoyed putting this trilogy together! I know these tips can provide clarity for many job seekers and help focus their time and efforts on best preparing themselves for getting their dream job.

  2. Great post, Natella, thank you very much. Along with the previos posts it is a great help in finding a dream job!

    1. Thank you very much K and you are most welcome. I do hope it helps many people as I had set out to provide the answers to many job search related questions that people have asked me all along.

      1. It does help. Sometimes even quite knowlegable candidates with “winning” resumes can’t get their dream job because they are not as prepared for the interviews as they could have been. Facing those tricky questions from hiring managers they don’t always know how to handle the situation in the most effective manner. Many thanks to Mary for sharing with us all these techniques.

  3. As usual, a very interesting post! Many thanks go to Mary as well. Her tips on job interviews are very useful for job seakers. Personally I’ve already taken a note on some of these tips for the future:) Especially, I liked Mary’s advice on how to reply to”tricky” questions such as “What is your great weakness?” etc. She is right – noone wants to focus on his/her weak sides, let alone sharing them with their potential employer. And exactly for this reason people on interviews start coming up with silly answers, telling lies about their weaknesses and as a result, they often fail the interview.
    I really enjoyed these last career related posts of yours , Natella! Keep writing on such interserting and useful topics!

    1. Thanks alot Melissa for your thoughtful comment as usual and you are most welcome. I truly enjoyed writing these series and am most grateful to Mary myself for sharing her best tips. I am glad you found here what you were looking for. Stayed tuned, there is more to come 🙂

  4. Hi Natella, I’ve been following so many other posts recently related to this subject matter.
    Mary Springer talks about some hints that I haven’t seen in other places yet. It looks very helpful. I will keep them in mind and use them as my wildcards.
    Thanks for sharing Mary Springer’s hints. Very nice Natella!

    1. Hi Keylla, thank you very much for sharing your feedback. I surely do hope these tips help you in your search for the opportunity that works out best for you!

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