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! 

The Interview Lunch: Mind Your Manners.

During the job interview process many prospective candidates are invited to a job interview over a meal. It is important to recognize that many individuals have failed miserably at this task and have compromised the promise of a career opportunity and a paycheck by demonstrating poor table manners.

Tips for a successful interview dining experience:

Show up on time and at the correct location. Be sure to map out your route if going to an unfamiliar location. It is up to the host to choose the venue.

Avoid gum. Use mints, as gum chewing is seen as a sign of bad breeding in many parts of the world and becomes an issue when you do not know what to do with that sticky glob once you begin to dine.

Avoid waving, pointing, or flailing the silver. When engaged in conversation do not wield the knife and fork around as you are speaking. This creates a distraction and is unprofessional.

Avoid the use of salt or pepper prior to tasting the meal. Many individuals will salt or pepper their meal without first sampling. This sends a non-verbal message of making hasty or rash decisions and can compromise the ability to move forward in the hiring process.

You were not invited to a meal because you are hungry. Avoid ordering expensive menu items, finger foods and difficult to manage items (ribs, lobster, fried chicken, spaghetti, etc.). If a food item is difficult to manage, you spend more effort on eating the meal and less on building rapport with emphasis on the main mission; getting hired. It is not about the food; it is about the relationship building process.

Order menu items that allow you to focus on the interview. Safe items to order when on an interview lunch or dinner include; soup, a main entree’ featuring poultry, fish, meat, starch and vegetable. A salad may be cumbersome as not all leafy greens are cut into bite size pieces.

Avoid alcohol. Alcohol inhibits the ability to recall important details, impairs the ability to remember names (especially in a networking setting), may cause improper conversations to emerge, and is not advisable when being considered for hire.

The purpose of the interview lunch/dinner is to determine the social savvy of the job seeker. Many times this form interview is the determining factor in hiring as it sets apart candidates for hire that are closely matched in skill and technical ability. You are an extension of the organization you represent, and table manners demonstrate your ability to be an ambassador for that potential hiring organization. Good luck!

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!