Interview Strategies

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Congratulations on your interview appointment! Please take note of our tips below that help you make your interview a success. May your interview be pleasant and productive!

Tips Worth Repeating

Pre-Interview

Prepare.

Bremer Associates candidates prepare themselves for interviews.

Please take time to do an Internet search on the company interviewing you, the hiring division, and names of your interviewers as soon as you are invited to a telephone interview. Prepare questions about your position and what interests you most in the company, as well as other topics that arise from your search.

Interview

Express your enthusiasm for the job and company by being ready to actively discuss this opportunity.

  • Understand that in many situations the interviewer is a technical person, not a professional interviewer. He or she may not know the best questions to ask to determine non-technical “soft” qualifications such as your communication skills, initiative and leadership. You can demonstrate your ability in these areas by keeping the conversation moving along with relevant questions. You should be prepared, if necessary, to conduct the interview. Unless the interviewer structures the interview otherwise, aim to talk 25% of the time and listen 75% of the time. The best way to do this is by asking probing questions that demonstrate
    • Your knowledge of the company
    • Your sincere interest in what they are doing
    • Your understanding of the unique challenges in the position under consideration.
  • Practice proportionality—elaborate on answers, with examples, to major questions.
  • Keep answers short for simple questions, but avoid “Yes” or “No” answers.
  • Summarize your answers to important and/or long questions.
  • Save time to ask your questions that aren’t answered during the interview.
  • Jot down all high and low points.
  • Ask for contact information, should you have any additional questions/information.
  • Conclude interview with personal thanks to each individual interviewer.

Post-Interview

  • Send a thank you email within 24 hours of the interview.
  • Debrief us. Feel free to ask us about questions that arise after the interview.
  • Apprise us of your level of interest after the telephone interview.

Know Their Stuff

A potential employer will not be impressed if you know nothing about his company. Before you go to an interview, learn as much as you can about your possible place of future employment. Hoovers.com is a great resource that provides a wealth of information about corporations.

  • You will need to know some solid basics about the company, such as
  • Size and growth rate, both in terms of people and dollars
  • The different divisions and what, if any, are the relationships among the divisions
  • Who the major industry players are and where this company fits in
  • Any other significant news about the company or its industry.

If nothing else, be sure to Google the company.

Telephone Skills

The interview process for almost any position begins with a phone interview. But just because you can’t see the person interviewing you doesn’t make the process less formal. In fact, it’s precisely because the interviewer is relying on your words alone that it is imperative to be prepared, polished, and attentive.

Keep Distractions to the Minimum

Make sure you are in a quiet place when expecting an interview. Flushing toilets, clinking dishes, barking dogs, or crying babies can be very distracting. If you receive an unexpected call, it’s okay to ask to reschedule. Also, avoid using cell phones; they’re harder to hear, and there’s a good chance you’ll get cut off—click, end of interview.

Hone Your Communication Skills

Because of the lack of eye contact, body language, and physical appearance, a phone interviewer has to evaluate a candidate on what he says and how he says it. You will be judged on perceived passion for the job, professionalism, and whether or not you fit in culturally. Have enthusiasm and intonation in your voice, anything to give the interviewer a sense of who you are. Having almost any personality is better than having no personality; an interviewer needs to be able to envision who you will be within a work community.

Be Prepared

If you’re expecting an interview, keep notes and your resume on hand; an interviewer need not be the wiser. Also, a little homework goes a long way. One employer reports being very impressed by a candidate’s knowledge about information on a company press release that had only just come out that morning. He was immediately invited to an on-site interview.

Be Proactive

Sending work samples to an interviewer beforehand may give you more details about your experience to discuss during the phone conversation. If you’re caught in an on-the-spot interview, send a follow up email with any pertinent information you may have forgotten to include. After any interview, always send a thank-you, summarizing your best selling points and strengths.

Videoconferencing Skills

With the growth of technology, more and more meetings are taking place with the aid of videoconferencing. It’s quite possible your next interview could be in front of a web cam. While many of the rules of videoconferencing apply to face-to-face interviews as well, sometimes people forget that there’s someone else on the other end of the camera.

Allowing an interviewer to see you can be an advantage if you come across as polished and professional. On the other hand, there are certain pitfalls common to videoconferencing. It’s very distracting to watch someone pick their nose, scratch their armpit, twirl their hair, or check their cell phone on screen.

Dress for Success

Some videoconferencing participants put on a coat and tie but leave on shorts and tennis shoes, which works fine if the image cuts off at their lower torso…until they have to get up unexpectedly to reach something. Instead, dress well from head to toe. Also, try to wear solid colors on camera; busy patterns are dizzying on screen.

Sit up and Pay Attention

Use a clear, crisp, conversational voice. It helps to lean forward when talking so those at the other end of the line can see you better. Women especially should perch on their edge of their chairs throughout the session to be seen.

Maintain eye contact with the interviewer, but don’t simply stare at the screen—you’ll appear stiff. Be aware of where your gaze goes; being on screen makes it much more obvious if you start staring off into space or otherwise seem distracted.

Watch your body language. Be careful not to frown, slouch, put your chin in your hands, or bob in your chair. And obviously, don’t get up and walk away in the middle of a videoconference.

The Camera Catches All

There are some things you can get away with in real life that get captured in fine detail on camera. Unconscious gestures like rolling your eyes or a condescending smirk can cost you. Remember who you’re talking to, especially if it’s to more than one person at a time. And whatever you do, don’t fall asleep.

Keep in mind culturally insensitive gestures. For instance, large hand and body motions make many Asians uncomfortable.

Practice, Practice, Practice

It wouldn’t hurt to practice ahead of a videoconferencing interview. Get a faraway friend to practice with you at a Kinkos. Or make a home video and then watch yourself. To make sure you’re speaking loud enough, turn your back to the screen and see how well you sound. If you come across too small, practice speaking more boldly.

How you perform in an initial interview will affect whether the next step is a face-to-face interview or if your resume gets dumped in the garbage. Even if you don’t get that particular job, if you impress the right people, you will get calls about other positions.

For more, see this list of ten interviewing tips.