“The Ultimate Interview Guide for Job and Career Success”
So you’ve got some job interviews coming up. Maybe you’ve had some interviews already, and can’t figure out why you haven’t gotten a follow-up call. Maybe it’s because you blew the interview. Maybe not. Do you know what to say? Do you also know what not to say? Has your resume, or a combination of your resume and applications gotten you some interviews? Good. Job Hunters, as interviewees, range on a scale of 1-10, from 1 being nervous and totally unprepared to 10 being very confident, polished and prepared.
On that scale, where would you rate yourself?
A lot of your rating depends on what kind of work you do, or want to do, how much you’ve interviewed, how long you’ve been in the workforce, whether or not you have a complete resume, etc. The good news is, you can improve your odds of doing well and getting job offers if you know what to say, and what not to say.
In today’s article, I’ll cover a few of the typical interview questions, and how to respond. Plus, I’ll cover some things you shouldn’t say, no matter what.
Let’s start with the basics. The key is to be ready, be yourself, and be brief.
Q. Tell me about yourself.
Hint: Practice this answer, since you’ll be asked this question most often. The best way to practice is to study the responsibilities and qualifications for the job, then shape your answer to match them with your background, skills, education and experience. (Keep your response to three minutes or less.)
For instance, let’s say you were applying for a job as an Electrician/ Supervisor for an electrical contractor.
A. I started working with electronics when I was a kid, taking apart the family radio and putting it back together to see if it worked. During summers in high school, I worked for Gus Gimby, a local electrician, who taught me a lot about wiring buildings and how things worked. After high school, I went to _______(name of school), and got certified as an apprentice electrician while working for Gus.
I understand that you are looking for an Electrician/Supervisor (whatever the position is). Is that right? (Wait for an answer.) Well, I’ve been a journeyman electrician now for over 5 years on both residential and commercial properties. And, I’ve been a crew leader for the past 4 years. I think I can handle the job here, helping you to make money and build your business and reputation as a first class electrical contractor. (Hush and grin.)
Notice how this response covers a lot of what the interviewer is looking for, and it brings this Job Hunter’s resume to life. Do you do that?
Also, it’s to the point, and you’ve told the interviewer just what they needed to hear. Remember, they want to know if you’re the one they should hire right away! Many interviewers would rather have a root canal with light Novocain than have to keep interviewing people.
Some people say things like;
I born in a log cabin, and my dad was injured, so my mom worked in a sweatshop sewing clothes. We ate potatoes and rice and my ten siblings and I walked to school, uphill both ways. In the winter we melted snow for bathwater and used lanterns to save money. I walked an extra 2 miles after school to work on a hog farm, cleaning and feeding hogs. They really stink, but you get used to it.
We also had an old transistor radio at home that I had to work on all the time. Our one room schoolhouse lights started sparking one day, and caught the place on fire. School was dismissed early. After the volunteer fire department left, Gus, the electrician, came out to rewire the building. I got to be his helper and have been doing electrical work ever since then. And I’ve only been shocked 6 times.
Don’t say that!
Here’s another typical question where a lot of people really BLOW their opportunity to knock the socks off the interviewer.
Q. Why are you looking for a new job? (A loaded question.)
A. This job sounds great and seems to match up well with my qualifications. I like a challenge and I like to stay busy. I look forward to getting trained in different ways to make myself more valuable to the company. I’m also looking for a position where I can move up to higher positions with greater responsibility and pay. I understand that you offer these things here. Is that right? (Hush and grin.)
A. This job sounds great and seems to match up well with my qualifications. I want to be with a company that is growing, has promotion opportunities for experienced and highly motivated workers, and cares about its people. This is a company with those qualities, right? (Hush and grin.)
If you were laid-off, fired, or displaced from a corporate takeover, or Hurricane Katrina, just say so. Just remember to limit your responses on each of these topics.
Very few, if any, companies or books will tell you the Secret I’m about to tell you.
Here it is: The real reason most people get crossed off the list for the job during or right after the interview is that they say the wrong things, especially when answering this question.
Bad response- “I was fired/laid-off because Gus hired another boss who was a real jackass. I couldn’t get along with him so I told him to ‘take this job and shove it,’ just like that Merle Haggard song. Ain’t that funny?”
Don’t Say That!
Also, don’t ramble, complain, cuss, get physically upset or sick, start talking bad about former bosses, tell victim stories, hard luck stories or get so personal or say anything that will make the interviewer depressed. You don’t want the interviewer to get depressed at anything you say or do. It amazing that some people say these types of things all the time! Duh!
I understand that it’s tough dealing with all these situations. I’ve had to deal with all of them except Hurricane Katrina.
A. “I’ve had some challenges. Some were from making wrong decisions. I’m quick to admit mistakes when I make them, like all human beings do occasionally. Wouldn’t you agree?” (Pause to let that sink into the interviewer’s brain. The point being; everyone, including him/her, has made mistakes galore in their lifetime. Nobody’s perfect, so get over it.)
Now you come back with a positive twist:
“However, getting laid-off, (or displaced by Hurricane Katrina), were circumstances beyond my control. The good news is, that despite what happened in the past, it’s in the past. I’m here now and ready to help improve the operation and profits of the company.” (Hush and Grin.)
The interviewers will be very impressed, because they hardly ever hear this kind of talk from a job applicant. You’ll be put on a short list for the job right away.
In the next article, Part 2, I’ll tell you more about, ‘How to say this, not that,’ in your job interviews.
Be looking for it.
To your success,
Michael W. Hall
Copyright, 2008, Michael W. Hall. All rights reserved
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