Job Interview Strategy: Ask Questions.

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The job interview process is a two-way street; dialogue is the key to a successful encounter.

Remember the Five “P’s”, Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.

Questions for consideration include:

1. What happened to the previous employee or why is the position available?
This will allow you to determine if the employee was promoted (This is a good sign and may indicate future opportunity if the company promotes from within.) or did they move on (This will indicate that you may have to dig deeper in your questioning to determine management style and corporate culture to determine “fit”.) or is the job a newly created role and the question can reveal the amount of turnover in the position. Beware:  If the position has had five people in that role in the last four years this may be a “red flag”, especially if they are no longer with the company, it could signal management or leadership concerns, etc.

2. What type of on-boarding or initial training is provided to ensure success?  Does (insert name of organization) support continuing education or certifications?  
This question allows the company to express the fundamentals they have in place to ensure your success through a detailed on-boarding and trainee program, continuing education, and resources or certifications for continued professional growth and development.  Ongoing training programs are proven to increase employee engagement.

3. What is the preferred management style of the (insert department, company, etc.)?
This will determine if the role is that of a “worker bee” with minimal contribution or does the culture support input allowing you to contribute concepts and ideas for growth and development of your role and the organization.

4. Would you paint a picture of the typical day in the role of a (insert job title)?
This will allow the organization to provide a snapshot of the role and what you can expect. Look for defined, confident replies.  Some companies allow for job shadowing to determine if a role is a good fit for you and the company. 

5. What challenges/problems/concerns are associated with (insert the department, the role, the company)?
This will reveal the pain they need to address and may open the opportunity for you to share background, skills, or abilities that may assist in overcoming the various challenges revealed and/or mentioned in the job posting.  How can you be of immediate benefit to help the team and the company achieve their defined goals and objectives?

6. How are expectations measured?
This will allow you to get a sense of how your progress and success or failure will be reviewed.  Does the company provide 90-day feedback and review? 6-months? or Annually?  The employee review allows for periodic feedback to assess your contributions and keep you on track for success in your role.

7. What are next steps in the hiring process?
This question should be asked at the end of your job interview. You will gain insight as to the hiring manager’s processes for moving forward and you will be able to navigate your next steps for outreach and expectations.  Should you follow-up by phone? email? When will they be making a decision? 

It is “OK” to ask questions. It is necessary and required! You are interviewing the organization and their team just as much as they are interviewing you. Why? Because you need to also determine “fit”, to learn if this organization’s culture and leadership environment “fits” with your work style and career goals so that you can flourish and succeed and contribute in a productive and meaningful capacity.  Good Luck! 

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Top Five Steps for a Successful Job Interview.

As a candidate for hire, you are now in the advertising and public relations field.  You must create a personal brand identity that targets your audience (the interviewer), the job posting and your research will provide you with the strategy for a winning campaign.  Here are five tips (and there are many more!), that will begin the road to achieving success in your job search.  So get ready to sell your most valuable product…YOU!

1.  Be prepared.  Research the company before the interview.  Investigate recent press releases, financial status and quarterly reports, new products or services, names of key people in the organization, and have a working knowledge of the organization.

2.  Take Notes.  Note taking allows you to be aware and to formulate questions as the interview progresses.  It is difficult to remember every conversation for every interview and this allows you to keep a paper trail of all meetings and correspondence.  Speak to their listening!  In other words, paraphrase and repeat back key details using some of the interviewer’s own words.

3.  Be specific.  Formulate a specific response to all questions.  Avoid vague generalizations, and provide examples of exact situations, challenges, and tasks, as well as the action that you have taken and the result.  Do not get caught off guard because you failed to practice.

4.  Dress Appropriately.  Although the corporate culture may be casual, it is still important to dress professionally.  Remember, the interviewer can be casual (they have a job), you have to make a first impression and it is easy for the interviewer to dress you down, but more difficult to imagine if they can dress you up.  Power Business (full pant/skirt suit (navy, black, charcoal), dress shirt/blouse,  tie (men), shined shoes, good grooming (hair, nails, etc.)), or Business (Dress pant/skirt, dress shirt/blouse, blazer, and a tie (men).

5.  Know Yourself.  If you are asked to talk about yourself and your background, have a plan.  Most people talk themselves out of a job.  Avoid too much storytelling, make connections for the interviewer, how does your past experience “fit” with their requirements and qualifications.

It is not up to interviewer to do the work for you.  Bring a copy of the posting/ad, to the interview as a “cheat sheet” to keep you on track.  Bring additional copies of your resume, references, and a portfolio of past accomplishments/certifications/or awards.  Create business cards at sites like; MOO, it’s a small investment to create an image that you are detail-oriented and polished (also more presentable when networking versus scribbling contact information using scrap pieces of paper or a crumpled cocktail napkin); the card should have basic contact information such as name, email, and phone, city and state (for safety purposes, address is not mandatory). Good luck!