Whether you are participating in a phone interview or in-person interview the same concept applies.
The objective of the interview is to generate an offer! You may decline it but do not make that decision during the interview process that is something you decide after the interview is over so that you have time to analyze the plusses and minuses of the position.
The 5 stages of the interview process.
- Learn about the position.
- Present your background
- Ask for feedback
- Correct any mis-impressions or mis-communications.
- Express your interest.
In the beginning of the interview a short greeting takes place and a discussion about your travel time or some other small talk to break the ice. Be sure to be positive even though you may have had difficulties parking or commuting to the location. Be careful to be polite but do not linger too long in this conversation as you time is limited (30 to 45 minutes for most interviews) and your need to acquire and communicate lots of information to the interviewer or the interview team if this is a team interview.
It is also best if you can begin the business conversation so that you and thus steer the topics of the interview conversation in an organized and logical fashion. Thus, you want to start the initial discussion by mentioning that you have researched the company, its products or services and it’s position in the industry. Mention a few facts about new products or services you have researched and say that you hope to have the time during the interview to discuss these issues. It is now time to launch the interview!
It is best if you can begin the interview process by saying that you feel that you understand the job description well but ask the manager / interviewer to explain the position in his / her own words and to describe what kind of person will be successful in this position? Sit back and listen, the manger will tell you all you need to know about the position and the responsibilities. If you can, jot down some salient points that describe your abilities but be sure to maintain eye contact. Do use active listening techniques and ask for clarification on one or two issues if needed or mention your familiarity with a topic mentioned but do not disrupt the tempo of the conversation.
You are interviewing for the position available not the position you want! As this portion of the interview winds down and you now have a verbal job description you can present you skills as they relate to the attributes the manager just told you about when he/she described the position. Be sure to highlight your skills as they relate to the position described. Even if you feel the position is not a perfect match you should still try to present your skills in the best light. You may feel over or under qualified and that may be the conclusion arrived at by the interviewer or you may also arrive at one of these conclusions but keep plugging because you never know what will happen. Another position may exist for which you are qualified now or in the near future and the manager will remember you.
Present your background as it relates to the position described! You should user phrases such as “I am effective at (something mentioned by the interviewer). Be prepared to back up that statement with examples or knowledge / training you already possess.” I have been working with or selling services for X years and been very successful by (something you have accomplished in your career).” Never profess to be an expert!
If you are meeting with more than one person be careful to answer the other individual’s questions as completely as you answered the first interviewer’s and with the same or more enthusiasm even if the questions may repeat themselves. The company may be evaluating consistency in your response or they may just not have coordinated the topics each of them would discuss. This happens often.
Do some research on “Behavioral questions” so that you recognize them and be prepared to respond in a consistent manner. You will mostly encounter this technique when talking to human resources as mangers are seldom trained in this interview technique.
Positive feedback is easy to accept but if negative feedback results, don’t fold up your tent or put your tail between your legs. This may happen because the interviewer misunderstood something you said or you did not digress enough on a skill or attribute that the interviewer wanted to hear more about. So, you may hear; “We are looking for someone that has managed a team.” Or “We are in need of more experience in project management.” Or “We are in need of the latest version of XYZ software.”
This is the classic moment when someone presents an objection and you need to counter with; “Perhaps I did not explain about my role in managing the team, I can elaborate if we have the time.” You may also say I am not familiar with the latest version of XYZ software as you mentioned but I was very experienced with prior versions and “I assure that if you offer me this position I will come up to speed quickly by putting in personal time to learn the software. I am that interested in everything you have told me about the company and the position. I have been able to do this in the past with (sight some examples).”
We are who we are and you cannot misrepresent yourself or your skills because your will be found out quickly but you can tell interviews that you are not afraid of hard work.
You will know the interview is drawing to a conclusion if the manager asks if you have any additional questions he / she can answer. Saying no I am all set is not the best response. Instead ask:
“Am I the kind of person you are looking for?”
“If I am selected for the position, how would I know I have done a good job for you in 6 to 12 months?”
“How do you feel my background fits in?”
Do not ask about benefits or vacation time or holidays that is information you will receive with the offer and is best asked after an offer is received. Remember our objective is to generate an offer.
You need to express your interest in the position even if you are not interested! Why? The salary offer may be more than expected, they may offer you a more senior position, you may be appropriate for a position in the future, No one ever received an offer if they were not interested.