Pleased to Meet You: Tips for Interviews

The resume gets you in the door. The interview determines if you stay. Here are five tips to help you talk the talk.

Finding a new job requires a strong one-two punch: Secure the interview with an effective resume and then land the job with a compelling interview. Last week’s column explained how to tune your resume to stand out; this week describes how to tune yourself.

Stated simply: Forget your alma mater, sterling references, and recent accomplishments—if you don’t interview well, you won’t get the job. Each interview, like each resume, must be tailored to the position.

  1. Research the company. Become familiar with everything you can about the company. Browse the company’s website and read its press releases and testimonials (if any). Search for information via Google. Use your social and professional networks, including sites such as Linked In, to garner additional information and insight. If you already know the name of the hiring manager, try to learn more about him or her, too. A good recruiter will collect all this information and more and help you to prepare.
  2. Prepare for the common questions. To learn more about your motivations and inclinations, interviewers typically ask about your work history, and may concentrate on why you left each post. A potential employer may also ask questions to gauge your excitement: Is the job your dream job or just another paycheck? All of these questions are perfectly valid and must be answered directly and clearly. Put yourself in your interviewer’s shoes: qualifying candidates is essential. A bad hiring decision is rarely easily undone.
  3. Demonstrate your value. Take an inventory of the skills and technologies required for the position you’re seeking and tie each requirement to your own experiences. Describe your contributions in detail to demonstrate your expertise.
  4. Anticipate the money question. Discussing salary has never been easy, but in recent times the topic has turned especially touchy because money is in short supply all around. With many developers out of work and looking for income, each position may attract hundreds of applicants. At the same time, stringent budgets pressure hiring managers to do more with less, making it critically important to make each new hire count. In other words, both the candidate and employer have more anxiety.

    My advice? Say “I am open to your offer.” However, this response may not always get you off the hook. You may be asked about your current and previous salary. Now, if you know you make less than what’s on the table, the worse case scenario is a salary increase. On the flip side, if the opportunity offers less, you may have a problem. In this instance be premeditative. Bolster your cause throughout the conversation before the money question comes up.

  5. Always ask about the next step. Before you leave the interview, be sure to ask them what happens next. Confirm and express your interest. Shake hands, send a follow up email, and respond promptly to any requests.

And relax. Stay calm throughout the interview, maintain eye contact, and build a good rapport with each company representative you meet.

Don’t talk yourself out of a job.

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