29 May 2013

Acing an interview

Like I mentioned in my previous post, tinkering with résumés was a bit of a hobby for me. So, I was usually pretty confident about the applications I sent in. Interviews, however, were not my cup of tea. Now, I wouldn’t be where I am today if I kept flunking my job interviews… but I can honestly say that I never went to an interview without sweaty palms, my heart in my throat, and a million butterflies rioting in my stomach.

Much like how I learned about the insider view of job applications, I discovered a lot about job interviews only after having a job of my own. Again, I had the opportunity to talk to HR people, I listened to stories told by my colleagues, and I even got the chance to sit in during a new recruit’s interview a couple of times.

So, I thought I’d share with you what I managed to learn…

Turn your cellphone off. No, seriously. As obvious as it may sound, I’ve seen experienced veterans with a list of achievements that I can only dream about who had to fumble with their phones right in the middle of an interview. That’s a great way to annoy your interviewer… ^^

Ask not what the company can do for you; ask what you can do for the company. People often ask about benefits, working hours, paid vacation time, or the company’s career structure. If you want to impress your interviewer ask about what the position you’re applying for entails, what a typical day for an employee in that position looks like, what kind of projects you might get involved in, etc. That way, you’re showing that you are also interested in the ‘working’ part besides the ‘getting paid’ portion.

Beware the salary-question trap. Now, this is what most people consider the most sensitive issue of just about any job interview. But there’s a trick to it. First of all, let the interviewer bring up the salary topic. When he or she does so, consider replying that you would like to be paid concurrent to your responsibilities and how your position contributes to the company’s business. By doing so, you’re demonstrating that you can think about the company’s needs instead of simply how much you want to get paid. I particularly like this approach… mainly because my haggling skills drop to zero when I’m nervous.

If you don’t know, just say ‘no’. Can’t figure the right way to answer a question? Then simply say that you don’t know. It won’t impress the interviewer, but fidgeting in your seat while mulling over a possible reply looks even less impressive.

Well, there’s obviously a lot more to interviews other than these four points, but these are the ones that I had the opportunity to really look into. And obviously these are also the points I like to share with my friends, colleagues, and now, you… ^^

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