specialized group: effective interviewing

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Brief coaching material for interview preparation.


  • 1. Recruitment Solutions How to handle interviews effectively
  • 2. How to handle interviews effectively Making a success of job interviews is crucial. Yet many people walk into the interview unpracticed and unprepared.They fail the interview not because they lack experience and qualifications for the job, but because they havent presented themselves effectively. Remember: however qualified you are for a position, the company conducting the interview will be meeting lots of other people very much like you. The interview is your best opportunity in the hiring process to present yourself to an employer. Handled well, it will increase your chances of getting an offer,and ultimately will affect how favorable that offer is.But securing an offer is only one side of the story.Based on the interview,how do you decide whether the role is really the right one for you? Well look at the interview from both sides of the table to get a clearer idea of how to handle it effectively. The hiring manager usually has just a couple of meetings with each candidate on which to base an important hiring decision. For him to offer the role to you, he needs to be confident not only of your abilities and experience, but also that you share the same goals and values. The hiring manager will base his decision on a number of factors, including assumptions he makes from your resume and from meeting you in per- son, from the answers you give to questions in the inter- view, and from his impression of you as a person. Its up to you to make all these things work in your favor. What is the hiring manager looking for? Its important to recognize though often overlooked that the deci- sion to hire is as much a subjective assessment as an objective one: in addition to weighing your abilities and experience, the hiring manager will be trying to decide how much he likes you, how much he wants to work with you and how confident he is in his decision to hire. Also worth remembering is that while the hiring manager is probably anxious to fill the position, any new hire is a substantial risk. An ill- judged decision is likely to be expensive and can reflect badly on him. When you appreciate how much is going on in the hiring managers mind, youll realize that the easier you make it for him, the more likely youll be offered the role. By the end of the interview, he should feel confident that: You want the job You have the skills and ability to do the job well You have the right personality He wants to work with you If hes confident of these four points, you should have a very good chance of getting to the next stage or to an offer. How does the hiring manager decide?
  • 3. The decision to hire is as much a suggestive assessment as it is an objective one. Technical questions will always be relevant to your background and are simply designed to test your knowledge. The hiring manager will already have a good idea of your experience from your resume, but he will naturally add to this knowledge with some assumptions of his own. These assumptions may or may not be accurate. Lets take the example of a candidate who worked at a large institution before moving to a small start-up business. The start-up failed and the candidate is now looking for a new position. Depending on his own experience, the hiring manager may see your experience in two very different ways. He could see the decision as a calculated risk that didnt pay off, but value the courage and determina- tion that would have been required. He may also Every hiring manager will want to know why you joined and left companies; each answer will predict your future actions. appreciate that the candidate has learned about how two very different cultures work. Alternatively, he could see the decision as unwise from the start and as evidence of the candidates poor judgement. You wont know how the hiring manager has subjectively assessed your resume until you ask what he thinks of your background, what he likes about it and what concerns him. Its important to uncover the assumptions hes made and to put right the inaccurate ones. Past performance is the most reliable indicator of future capabilities, so many managers will use evidence-based ques- tions to identify not only knowledge and skills, but also character. For example, if communication skills are important in the role, you may be asked to describe a situation in which there were problems of communication, and explain how you resolved them. Your answer will show the hiring manager how you thought through the problem and how well you understood the dynamics involved. Technical questions Assumptions based on your resume and the hiring managers own experience Evidence-based questions
  • 4. In many interviews, questions designed to reveal your motivations are the most important ones to get right. A good manager must understand the emotional connection of each member of his team the aspects of work they enjoy, how they want to develop their career and their Silicon Valley companies and financial firms have a reputation for posing academic challenges to test intelligence questions such as Why are manholes round? or How do you weigh a jumbo jet without the aid of scales? In reality, many of these puzzles have become so generic that you can pre-read them on dedicated websites. Hiring managers who use riddles and puzzles have different motives. Some genuinely believe that a correct answer will indicate the intelligence of the candidate. Others purely want to see how a candidate will analyze a problem to reach an answer. If you discuss the problem through with the interviewer and pose intelligent questions you will demonstrate your problem-solving abilities, even if you come to an alternative or incorrect solution. Riddles and puzzles Motivational questions Every hiring manager will want to know why you made key decisions to join and leave companies, and each answer will be used to predict your future actions. Explain your decisions concisely and objectively. Most importantly, never give nega- tive reasons for leaving previous jobs. Explain each move to show a considered career progression. Historical questions expectations for work-life balance in order to balance the goals of each individual and those of the company. Be clear about what your plans are in order to manage the employers expectations from the start and prevent potential misunderstandings.
  • 5. Putting questions to the hiring manager is a new experience for some, but it is an extremely effective technique. If the hiring manager sees that youre already thinking about the challenges his business is facing and that youre interested in the business itself, it will make him significantly more confident that youre motivated to take the job. Questions about the volume of business, the seasonal flow, the relative strengths of their business model and their competitive advantage in particular markets will give you valuable insight into how the company sees itself. Assessing how long the team has been together, their budget and their perspective of future challenges are important for you to judge whether their goals are realistic. Ask everyone present at the inter- view as many relevant questions as you comfortably can. Then ask many of the same questions to any other members of the team you meet. Inconsistent or contradictory answers across a team are always a cause for concern. Be persistent but not aggressive. Questions are a powerful tool that will help you separate good opportunities from bad. Intelligent questioning will also mark you out as an above-average candidate by dem- onstrating preparation and forethought, and an understanding of the obstacles and op- portunities that the new role holds. Often, the more control you take of the conversation, the more you will impress the hiring manager, and the easier will be his decision to hire. What do you need to know? What questions should you ask and to whom? Build your questions around the employers business
  • 6. 10 Putting questions to the hiring manager in an interview is a new experience for some people, but its an extremely effective technique. Just dont take it too far. Some excellent candidates with impressive backgrounds walk into interviews with an attitude of Why should I work for you? This is not the way to impress the hiring manager, and if he suspects you would join his team with the same attitude he is likely to pass you over, however good Anyone who has been in business for any time has heard wild claims about future prospects for growth or potential deals that are just around the corner. Weve all been involved in businesses or projects that have finished late and over budget, just as many others have come in on time and within budget. Through the interview process, you can assess whether the team has the resources, vision and dedication to bring their goals to fruition. Listen to everyone you can inside and outside the business. Interviews are short and each person involved can leave the meeting with quite different impressions. If you want the job you have to ensure that the hiring manager is left with no doubts. Ask a question like: From our discussion today, is there anything that you feel is preventing you from offering me this position? If hes unsure about your knowledge in a particular area, you can tell him more about your experience in that area. Your aim is to make sure that the hiring manager leaves the room with their expectations met. And y

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