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?
I once got through three rounds of interviews before the company figured out that I wasn’t hungry for the job. When they asked why I wanted to change career fields, I didn’t have a good answer because I wasn’t for sure that I did want to change. So the process was good for me — in figuring out my goals — but a waste of time for the company, unfortunately.