How well do you interview?
What are the four questions the employer
is silently asking himself about you?
What are the three questions you should
always ask at the end of any interview?
If you’d like to know, you’re in the right place!
“When you go in for a job interview, I think a good thing
to ask is if they ever press charges.”
– Jack Handy
This section is about how you can interview strong enough to receive the job offer.
Interviewing is a game! And your mission, if you accept, is to win. How do you do that?
To interview strong enough to receive the job offer you must:
- Be likable, relax, and have fun
- Focus your PAR stories on their job description
- Show desire, interest, and enthusiasm
- Follow up!
- Practice, Practice, Practice – via Role-Play
If you’ll do these simple things, you’ll make the interviewer’s job much easier and you’ll be given the offer.
Understand the Purpose of Job Interviews:
What’s the primary purpose of an interview? Most people think the purpose is to find the best person for the job. However, this is false. The true purpose of any interview is to de-select, screen-out everyone, so there’s just one person left (or a short list). How can you avoid being screened-out?
Understand the questions the employer will be silently asking about you:
- Can he do the job and do it well (competence)?
- Will he fit in with us (likability, social skills)?
- Can we afford him (compensation)?
- Does he really want to be one of us or just want a job (enthusiasm)?
If during the interview, they get a No or I’m not sure to any of the above questions, the interview is over; they just forgot to tell you. Your job, if you decide to accept, is not to get screened out! So, how do you do that? Keep reading!
Create Good PAR Stories
A good PAR story includes these three components:
Problem: What problem or situation did you encounter?
Action: What action did you take to deal with the situation?
Result: What was the result of your action?
The key to a good PAR story is to select a problem, like what the employer is expecting, that has a decisive action, and a stellar result.
In May of 20XX, I was faced with this challenge…
I decided to…
A month later the situation stabilized and we avoided a ….
Craft your PAR stories carefully. They should show how the magnitude and seriousness of the situation you faced, tell the decisive and immediate actions you took, and conclude with the stellar and quantifiable results that followed.
Did you make a difference for your former employers? Did you make things better than you found them? Tell us the story in PAR format and tell it convincingly!
Your PAR stories are what creates and reinforces your Perceived Value Added. The strong you Perceive Value Added, the more Leverage you have.
Prepare for a Phone Screening Interview
Before you’re scheduled for a face-to-face interview, you will receive a phone call, which is your screening interview. If you pass the screening interview, you’ll be invited to visit.
Be prepared to receive a phone interview. When you’re on the phone in an interview – stand up! This will make you sound better. Also, if you can be in front of a mirror, smile as you speak. This will help with your tonality – how they perceive your level of interest.
Have their job description in front of you and tell your PAR stories related to the transferable skills found in their job description. Focus on their job description and avoid any distractions around you.
So, you don’t waste your time (or theirs) interviewing for a position you would never accept, pre-screen the caller by asking a few questions.
Screen the Screener!
Sample Screening Questions:
- Any travel involved and is this a contract or a full-time position?
- What does the position require? What’s the job description?
- Any sales involved? If you don’t want sales, tell them.
- Where is the office located? (some positions are in other cities and/or states)
- Does this position require me to supervise others? How many? Who?
- What’s the range for compensation? If you need $70,000 and they say $35,000, be honest and decline.
- What benefits come with this position? If you need medical benefits this job does not include it – decline.
In fact, if you don’t like their answers, politely decline their request for an interview. Don’t lead them on. Make the decision early concerning what you’ll accept and what you’ll decline.
- If they’re an employer or a company recruiter, don’t answer questions about pay, other than to say, I’m very open, flexible and compensation’s negotiable.
- If they’re from a recruiting company or an independent recruiter, answer all their questions honestly (tell him your pay range).
BEFORE the Job Interview
Focus on their Specific Job Description:
Your focus during any interview is on their specific job description from the job ad. All the people interviewing you will be grading you on your ability to do the job. The only way they can answer this question is to compare you to their job description. The closer the match – the stronger you are as a candidate. So, just replicate the same transferable skills that are found in their job description in your PAR stories. For example: If the job description specifies that the job is a planning job and all your PAR stories involve your ability to design, they won’t see you as good match. If you want to make the job easier for the interviewer, make your PAR Stories match the transferable skills listed in the specific job description.
Sample Specific Job Description:
Let’s assume this is a specific job description (below) from the job ad for which you are being interviewed. What transferable skills are they seeking? They’re bolded. What buzz-words should you add to your PAR stories? They’re underlined.
Plans layout of project and integrates engineering elements into unified design for client review and approval. Prepares scale drawings and contract documents for building contractors. Represents client in obtaining bids and awarding construction contracts. Administers construction contracts and conducts periodic on-site observation of work during construction to monitor compliance with plans. May prepare operating and maintenance manuals, studies, and reports. May use computer-assisted design software and equipment to prepare project designs and plans.
Which transferable skills will you prepare PAR stories for use during the interview?
Plan, integrate, prepare, design, represent, obtain, award,
administer, conduct, observe, integrate, monitor.
Have you ever demonstrated these transferable skills before? Do you own these skills? If so, prepare and practice your PAR stories.
It’s that easy! Don’t mess it up!
Show up 15-minutes early!
It may seem obvious, but if you’re not on time for your interview, this could get you screened out. Getting there early makes a good impression on the interviewer and allows you to take a few deep breaths, organize your thoughts, refresh your memory on any points that you’ve found difficult in your practice interviews and scan any company materials that may be available in the waiting room. It also allows you to use the restroom, if needed. Freshen your breath and make any last-minute checks and adjustments.
Arriving early is easiest when you’ve planned your route. Whatever your mode of transportation, make sure you have directions to your destination, along with a back-up route, in case an unexpected delay. Have the phone number of the interviewer or receptionist to notify in case you’re running late. It’s also highly recommended that you perform a dry run a few days before your interview. Travel to the interview location and be sure you know how to get there and where to park without getting lost or delayed.
What Questions Should You Ask?
You’ll be judged on the quality of the questions you ask! If you don’t ask questions, it could be perceived as a lack of preparation or interest. Ask good questions! Do your homework!
Employers like candidates who know what they want from a job. They’re also impressed with someone who’s done some research before the interview. Make an effort to research the organization you’re interested in, and you’ll be ahead of your competition.
Your job is to interview them to see if this job is a good match for you. If it’s not a good match, don’t be afraid to speak up and decline. Later, you’ll be glad you did.
During the interview, ask the employer questions about:
Duties and Responsibilities:
- Are you clear on your duties and responsibilities? If not, ask,
- Where the job fits into the organization?
- Is there a path for advancement?
- Is it clear who works for you?
- Is it clear who you work for, with and who works for you?
Specific questions to your Leader:
- What do you expect of the new person in the first 90-days?
- How do you measure job performance of your direct reports?
- How do you measure results and behavior?
- What’re the most important skills you’re looking for?
- Are there any major events or changes coming?
- What’re your priorities for this position?
- How many people have held this position in the past 3-years?
- Why did they leave?
The Stability of the company:
- How stable is the company?
- Are sales or services increasing from year to year?
- Where do you see this company in five years?
- What’s the company’s market share?
- When was the last time anyone was laid off?
- Any new business opportunities expected?
- Who’s their biggest competitor?
- Any litigation pending?
The Work Environment and your Co-workers:
- Ask employees what they like most (and least) about working here? (You may learn something you wouldn’t have otherwise known.)
- Do they have social events, child care, flex time, and work from home?
- How well does the company care for their employees?
- Where do people go for lunch?
- What do people do if they get sick or need a day off?
The level of stress involved with the position:
- Are there any employees to watch out for or stay away from?
- Any major crisis management events in the past?
- Any major stressful events coming up?
- Any work after 5 PM or on weekends?
- Anything that makes you uncomfortable?
- People taking work home with them?
- Work on weekends or holidays?
- Any travel involved?
- Bad language or loud noises?
- Harassment and smoking?
What Questions Will They Ask You?
When the interview begins, here are the types of questions you’ll be asked:
- Most commonly asked question
- What do you know about us?
- Negative questions
- Behavioral question
- What are your compensation expectations?
- What are your questions for us?
Let’s address each one in some detail.
What’s the most commonly asked question?
The most commonly asked question is, Tell me about yourself. So, expect it. Present your 30-second commercial along with any PAR stories that apply.
“Tell me about yourself.”
Most of the time, this question is asked just to give the interviewer a chance to relax. So, be prepared for it. Know your strengths, use your PCF/BOE related PAR stories and tell how you can add value to your Leader’s PCF/BOE goals.
“What do you know about us” type questions:
“What do you know about us?”
- Do you really want to work with us or do you just want a job?
- Did you do your homework and prepare for this interview?
- Do you have any clue what we do here and why?
- Why would you want to work for our company?
- What about our company interests you?
Do your research before the interview to give an appropriate answer. Discuss how your skills fill the needs of the job description. Use PAR stories.
How do you answer Negative Questions?
There are hundreds of possible negative questions that could be asked. The list is endless. For example, if asked,
What’s your greatest weakness?
But, here’s the process.
Step 1: To say that you have no weaknesses, or you haven’t made a mistake, or that you’ve not had a misunderstanding is a lie. You just screened yourself out for lack of integrity. So, clearly answer the question. Pick an actual, true event from your past that was harmless and insignificant.
Step 2: Tell the rest of the story; what did you learn as a result of the experience.
So, if you’re asked about your greatest weakness, you could say:
Step 1: “Probably my greatest weakness is patience. I just want to get things done right the first time.
Step 2: What I’ve learned to do over the years is to better communicate how much time is left and how important it is to get things completed on-time.”
So, now what’s your greatest weakness? You don’t have one. You had one, but you made it go away. You’ve made lemonade out of lemons. You showed how to turn a weakness into a strength. This is how to change a negative question into a positive answer.
- People are always complaining. What do people complain about you?
- How do you feel about your former Leader or company?
- Why did you leave your previous job?
- What’s your biggest mistake?
“Why did you leave your last job?”
When asked why you left your previous job, stay away from emotions and judgments. State the facts only. Stay away from assumptions or your opinion of the facts. For example: If asked why you left any previous job, you might respond with, “There was no room for upward mobility, or the position lacked challenge or the company or industry was unstable, or it was time to move on.” Refrain from criticizing a former supervisor. Be prepared to offer specific stories concerning both your transferable skills and your most outstanding achievements as they relate to the job description.
How do you answer Behavioral Questions?
Employers often ask behavioral questions to see how you behaved in certain situations from your past. As you answer, provide specific examples that show your thought process.
- Describe the most recent situation where you were under pressure. How did you react?
- Describe your last major mistake. Why did it happen? What did you do about it?
- Describe your greatest success at work and tell me when it occurred?
- Tell me about a time when your ideas were rejected by your Leader. How did you work through the situation?
Use your PAR stories. They’re looking for how you responded in this situation. Use stories that have a good response.
You may be a good talker, but a job interview is not a Conversation; it’s a competition. They’re judging you on everything you say, don’t say, and do. And, you should be judging them to see if this job is a good fit for you.
Check to ensure you’ve asked all your prepared questions or any other questions that came to mind during the interview.
DURING the Interview
To be continued: If you’d like to learn more about what you should do during an interview to ensure you Get THE Call for job interviews and offers, you can do so by adding these books to your professional library, today!
Executive Coach reveals Job Searching SECRETS Employer’s don’t want you to know about who gets called for job interviews and who gets hired.
Here you’ll learn:
1: WHAT EVERY COMPANY MUST HAVE TO SURVIVE
2: WHAT VALUE DO YOU BRING TO AN EMPLOYER?
3: WHAT ARE YOUR ASSETS & LIABILITIES?
4: WHAT’S YOUR SEARCH FOCUS?
5: ASSESSING YOUR CURRENT RESUME
6: BUILDING YOUR COMPELLING RESUME
7: 19+ PROVEN WAYS TO GET THE INTERVIEW
8: INTERVIEWING TO RECEIVE THE JOB OFFER
9: NEGOTIATING TO RECEIVE THE HIGHEST OFFER
10: ASSESSING YOUR JOB SEARCH
11: CHANGING CAREERS?
In just a few minutes, you can own your copy of this book, and begin using what you learn to find your NEW JOB tomorrow.
Also, if you feel this information could help someone else, please take a few moments to let them know. If it turns out to make a difference in their life, they’ll be forever grateful to you – as will I.
Let’s make a difference together – one person at a time!
All the best!
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