Job Interviews

That’s a Good Question

I’ve been on my fair share of job interviews. Now that I’m a manager, I appreciate the importance of a good first interview. Committing to a long-term relationship with a relative stranger can be intimidating for the interviewer and the applicant alike.

Yesterday, I counseled a colleague who is re-entering the job market after a six-year departure to raise her son. She was looking to improve her interview skills.

I shared with her the top three things I look for in a successful interview. If a candidate can demonstrate aptitude in these three areas, there’s a good chance there’ll be a second interview.

Problem-solving skills. Creativity and thinking logically are only part of the equation. What I look for are concrete examples that prove a candidate can solve problems by providing workable solutions. This gives the applicant a chance to provide real-life experiences of past successes or how obstacles were overcome.

People skills. I actually had a candidate for a receptionist position tell me that she didn’t really like people. That interview ended about three minutes later. You might not have a job that interacts with clients, customers or suppliers, but every job has some level of personal interaction. You need to be able to demonstrate that you’re trustworthy, accommodating and a team player. I’m especially interested in a candidate’s listening skills, which are as important as speaking.

Follow through skills. I look for people who possess follow through and can get things done. This is another opportunity to share a story of how you closed the deal or completed the project. In the movie “Glengarry Glen Ross” there is a line that refers to the ABCs – Always Be Closing. It is important that you can demonstrate that you can complete projects and not just move from project to project.

When you are asked questions about your skills, try to focus your responses in one of these three areas. What do you think is important to convey in a job interview? What question do you dread being asked?

5 Things Not to Say in a Job Interview

1. “I don’t like working with people.” Even if the job you’re applying for doesn’t involve working directly with customers, basic people skills are a necessity for virtually all jobs.

2. “When’s payday?” While you may be up to your ears in bills, asking about money too soon gives the impression that’s all you’re interested in.

3. “I hope I get this job. This is my sixth interview this week!” Showing enthusiasm is great, but if you give off a rejected vibe, interviewers will wonder if they should pass you over too.

4. “So, would you want to go out sometime?” Sure, the workplace can be a great place to meet people, but displaying eagerness to hook-up isn’t professional.

5. “How much vacation do I get?” This question makes it seem like you’re ready for a break before you even start. Wait until at least a second-interview to ask questions about benefits.

What’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever said or heard in an interview?