Note: These tips are meant for general use in job interviews. Specific situations and the myriad of questions that might be asked are beyond the scope of this article.
1. Initial Screening Interview: Your first verbal contact is a phone call from HR or a recruiter. The sole purpose of their call is to confirm the information in your resume. They might ask you to confirm your educational background, e.g., degree(s), date, name of college/university, professional designations, e.g., Certified Professional Accountant, and employment history, e.g., dates, titles, employers, reason for leaving. They might call your former employers, but only to confirm the dates of your employment.
Tip: Be friendly and professional, don’t volunteer anything not asked, and don’t try to sell yourself. These people cannot hire you, so don’t feel like you need to impress them beyond being forthcoming and direct.
2. Courtesy Interviews: You may be asked to meet with one or more people who work at their company, but who you would not report to, if you’re hired.
Strategy: What you want these people to say about you is, “I wouldn’t have a problem with her or him.” If they give too glowing of a report about you to the hiring authority, it might raise questions in the mind of the hiring authority. For example, the hiring authority might wonder if maybe the employee secretly harbors the thought that you might be a possible threat and/or that you might overshadow her or him in the eyes of their superior(s).
Conversely, if their feedback is overly negative, the hiring authority might become overly cautious about you. Assuming they trust that employee, their caution might cause them to be hard on you whenever they interview you, and you may come to feel that your candidacy is a long shot. This might dampen your demeanor and cause you to be perceived as a risky candidate.
3. The Main Event Interview(s): When you meet with the hiring authority, she or he will be trying to gauge how you come across in three critical areas. Their most critical concern, whether verbalized or not, is: What can you do for me?
To that end, they want to know if you:
Have a high level of integrity. If they don’t feel that they can trust you, then all of your other qualifications won’t matter.
Tip: When it’s appropriate in responding to a question, remember that details add credibility and that you should always understate, and not overstate. A “brag and boast” posture greatly undermines trust and could cause you to be eliminated from final consideration.
Have a high level of competence.
Have the kind of personality that wears well over time.
Tip: Make every effort to project confidence in your ability to handle the position you applied for because of your education and experience. Remember that minor aspects of their business or industry you can pick up very quickly while on the job and that your capabilities, which are the result of hard work in your prior positions, are what should count the most. Unlike minor things, they can’t be acquired quickly.
Overall Strategy: If you have sincerely marketed yourself by making an offer to be of service, based on your capabilities, to help her or him reach their business goals faster, rather than as someone that is trying to sell their services, then interviews with the hiring authority will be mainly about chemistry.
Final Tips: If they ask you about something that you feel is relatively minor, a good response is: “That’s one of the main reasons you should hire me. You won’t have to worry that I’ll want to do things the way they do it at the XYZ company. You know what has proven to be successful at your company, so all you need to do is let me know what you want me to do, and if you have a preference for how you want it done.”
They don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.
Tom Kellum is a job hunting consultant, helping people's dreams come true since 1987. He specializes in providing a personal job-landing service based on proven marketing strategies and methods. For more information, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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