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Hurrah! You have been called for a job interview. A generalist from the human resources department performed an initial interview with you over the telephone, and now you have been invited to come to the company and interview with a Decision Maker who will make the hiring decision for the job.

You get one chance to interview with this company for this job, so you better get it right!

Preliminary Preparation

Number 1: Read the company web site. Have a thorough and in-depth knowledge of what the company does. Be fully versed on their products or services.

Number 2: Drive to the company a day or so before the interview. Travel in the same time frame as the interview is scheduled so that when you drive to the company, you will have a good idea of how heavy the traffic will be at that time of day. Plan to arrive at the company at least 15-20 minutes early so that you can prepare your self personally.

Number 3: Check your appearance. Dress for the job. If you are interviewing for a supervisory or management position, dress appropriately. Men or women, a dark blue suit is always acceptable. Make sure it is a very conservative, traditional cut. Not too stylish, unless that would be appropriate for the job for which you are interviewing. Wear a pressed white-shirt or blouse with a silk tie or scarf that is red, or has some red in the design. Polished shoes. Make sure your hair looks good, not scruffy. Men, be freshly shaved, not the “day-old” look, please.

Number 4: Since many companies look at the condition of your transportation as a signal of your cleanliness and order, make sure your automobile is clean, both inside and out. “Really?” you ask. Yes, really.

Number 5: Shake hands with personality. No half-hearted, limp-wristed hand shaking, please. Make sure your grip is firm. Look at the Decision Maker in the eye while introducing yourself.

Interview types

Behavioral Interview: Used by about 30% of companies now, behavioral interviewing is when the company to determine which skills are necessary for the job they are looking to fill, asks very pointed questions to determine if the candidate (you) possesses those skills. Be ready to describe specific, recent situations, examples, stories, which detail your behavior or actions that you took to resolve a situation. Behavioral interview questions are used to obtain a picture of your inherent and natural abilities and skills. Typical questions for a behavioral interview include:

Tell me about a time when you had to adjust to a colleague’s working style in order to complete a project or achieve your objectives.

What is your typical way of dealing with conflict?

Give me an example of a time when you were able to successfully communicate with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you. How did you handle the situation? What obstacles or difficulties did you face. How did you deal with them?

Tell me about a time you had to make a decision without all the information you needed. How did you handle it? Why? Were you happy with the outcome?

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement so far and why?

Describe a time when you had to use your initiative to solve a problem. What did you do?

Give me an example of a time when you motivated others.

Situational Interview: The interviewer is looking to glean how a candidate handles real work situations, his or her problem-solving style, and what the potential employee’s personality is really like. Review your pre-rehearsed examples of how you work on the job. Often designed to read your emotions, typical questions in a situational interview may include:

Tell me about a time when you had to think on your feet and reach a decision quickly.

Give me an example of a time when you were able to be amiable and warm as a communicator.

In your experience dealing with clients and customers, tell me about a time when communication became challenging, and how you overcame that.

Describe a time when you were successful working in an unstructured environment.

Tell me about a time you had a conflict with a co-worker, and how you resolved it.

Describe a situation in which you have disagreed with instruction or criticism from your boss and how you approached the situation.

Can you tell me about an instance in which you were able to positively motivate others?

Traditional Interview: Most job interviews are traditional interviews. The questions are usually more factual. For example, the type of questions you will be asked may include questions such as: How would you describe yourself? Why did you leave your last job? What are your long range and short range goals and objectives? What are the most important rewards you expect in your career? Why did you choose this career? Describe the best job you have ever had. Why should I hire you? Have you ever been fired or forced to resign?

Following the interview be sure to email a sincere “Thank you.” Alternately a card via the post office would also be a very nice gesture as well.

Perhaps the most important concept in the job search process is the likeability factor. Decision Makers hire people they enjoy being around. It is a natural human condition to do so. If you were the Hiring Manager you would do the same.

Use your personality. Be pleasant. Be positive. Be upbeat. Project the very best that you can be, and win the job!

Richard M. Knappen is president of Chessmen Career Movers, an outplacement, career management, and consulting firm that is one of the oldest and largest locally-owned companies of its type in Southern California.

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