Education Career Services

September 15, 2009

Job Interview…an interviewee’s reply

The following was submitted by Barbara and I would now like to share with you.

September 15As someone who has interviewed prospective employees, I’d like to add a couple of thoughts to “Job Interview – An Employer’s Experience”.

I agree with your recommendations that an interviewee be on time, be as prepared as possible, dress appropriately, and follow up with a note.  These are basic courtesies.

However, though I know prospective hires tend to blur after you’ve interviewed quite a few, I’m not entirely sure that encouraging a candidate to reiterate his or her strengths in a follow-up note is the best advice.  I’d even go so far as to say it’s not his or her responsibility.  In my experience, self-promotion in a follow-up note can come across as pushy and perhaps even transparent.

I submit that it is the interviewer’s task not only to probe a prospective employee’s strengths during an interview but also to jot down notes afterwards, to help you remember what distinguishes one candidate from another, to help trigger your recollection of something unique about the person.  That might be something as simple as a passing remark or an observation while you were chatting informally, or as focused as a “war story” told to illustrate a point.  It could be something as unconscious (but important) as body language.

That said, on to some things for the candidate to keep in mind.

Remember that the person interviewing you is trying to gather information that will help him or her make a decision, to determine things that may not be apparent on your resume:  Are you articulate?  What is your professional style?  Are you supportive and tactful or driven and confrontational?  Are you naturally energetic and enthusiastic or ho-hum?  These traits can be just as important as your past work history.

It’s also important to remember that an interview is a two-way street, a reciprocal process.  That is, besides enabling the interviewer to learn more about you, there are also some things you should know when you leave the building.

You might ask for information about the company and its direction, beyond what your job would entail (if you’re hired).  What does the company consider its core strength or business and who are the primary target audiences or clients or customers?  You can hardly know whether or not you’d like to be a part of an organization – particularly a small one, not quite yet in the Fortune 100 – unless you know more about it than what appears in an ad or even what you read on a website.

There’s nothing wrong with asking a question or two about what led your interviewer to join (or form) the company.  This isn’t to pry into a life history; it’s to gain an appreciation for what makes the company special for him or her. These things could be tangibles or intangibles.  Are they the same things you want for yourself in your new business environment?

Don’t be embarrassed to say “I don’t know” if you’re asked something you can’t answer.  Don’t try to bluff.  Similarly, if you’re asked about a certain skill and you’ve never had experience with it but believe that, with some coaching, you could master it, say so.  Don’t despair over what may at first blush look like the kiss of death. 

In short, be authentic and real.

These thoughts may be self-evident.  But in case they’re not, and particularly if you have most if not all of the necessary qualifications for the job but are new to the interview process, take a deep breath and relax.  The person sitting across from you probably wants you to be just what he or she has been looking for, so the search won’t go on for weeks or months.  Instead of worrying about how you’re doing, trust in yourself and what you have to offer.  This, you’ll find, will take you a long way towards completing a mutually rewarding interview.

Again, thank you Barbara for your insight and no doubt many of our followers will benefit from your comments.

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
Education Career Services:
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1 Comment »

  1. Very nice site!

    Comment by Pharmg805 — September 27, 2009 @ 6:25 am

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