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AQS – Site Interview Preparation
By Sally Hunt, Pres. AQS Recruiters
Foreword: The following document contains some excellent ideas for interview preparation. Written by Sally Hunt, it contains some of her wisdom gleaned from 15 years of helping engineers and technical folks in the advancement of their careers.
Congratulations, your education, skills, background, personality, and achievements have not only attracted the interest of one of our client companies, you have been selected for a site visit. Successful interviews require careful preparation and that is the purpose of this review, to assist you in presenting yourself and your skills to your best advantage and to help you receive the offer.
Although you may have heard many of these recommendations before, consider the information carefully with the understanding that these proven techniques are presented to ensure your success. Please be prepared to implement these suggestions.
Pre Interview Preparation
Dress for Success
Often I hear that ‘business casual’ is okay, or ‘just be yourself’… I also know that if you arrived at an important function in blue jean shorts and a torn tee shirt you would not be as well received as you would had your first impression been made in a nice suit with shined shoes…
· dark suit with a long sleeve white or light colored shirt/blouse, minimal jewelry, no perfume or cologne. Shoes should have a closed toe, be in good repair, and be well shined. Hair should be neat and orderly.
Bring a change of clothing and steeltoe boots for a plant tour in a separate bag if you like – but when you first walk in the door you should expect you to appear like the fabulous, successful, talented person you are!!!
Arrive for your interview 5 to 15 minutes early. With everyone you meet make a strong opening: good eye contact; genuine smile; firm handshake; assertive, energetic posture – your excitement and desire for this opportunity will come across very clearly in your body language, the way you sit/stand/carry yourself… whether you realize it or not!!!
DO NOT under any circumstances ask any questions regarding salary or benefits. Sally and I can help resolve salary and benefit concerns. The important thing is to focus on getting the offer. AQS has found over the years that our client companies treat candidates very professionally. They find the candidate they are looking for and then negotiate the rest. I have never had a candidate be low-balled on salary. So, let’s focus on getting the offer. You are the best of the candidates the company has interviewed … so, this is your opportunity to present yourself as that candidate.
After the offer is made we will be able to evaluate all aspects of the compensation package. So, if the question regarding your expectation is posed – your answer should be “I expect to consider your best offer based on my education and experience, but right now tell me about…” and change the subject.
DO NOT say any thing negative about your current or past employers. Remain focused on the positive reasons for change and the goals you are striving for.
Fundamentals of a Successful Interview
To a large degree, the success of your interview will depend on your ability to discover needs and empathize with the interviewer.
One very effective way you can do this is by utilizing ‘active listening’ techniques… asking questions that verify your understanding of what the interviewer has just told you, without editorializing, or expressing an opinion. By establishing empathy in this manner, you’ll be in a better position to freely exchange ideas, and demonstrate your suitability for the job.
In addition to establishing empathy, there are four intangible fundamentals to a successful interview. These intangibles will influence the way your personality is perceived, and will affect the degree of rapport, or personal chemistry you’ll share with the employer.
Both for your sake and the employer’s, try not to leave an interview without exchanging fundamental information. The more you know about each other, the more potential you’ll have for establishing rapport, and making an informed decision.
The Short and Long of It
Many of the interview questions will be presented in an open-ended format. There are two ways to answer: the short version and the long version. I always suggest to candidates that they say, “Let me give you the short version. If we need to explore some aspect of my answer more fully, I’d be happy to go into greater depth, and give you the long version.”
The reason you should respond this way is because it’s often difficult to know what type of answer each question will need. A question like, “What was your most difficult assignment?” might take anywhere from thirty seconds to thirty minutes to answer, depending on the detail you choose to give.
For request such as “Tell be about yourself” have a short 30 second synopsis (short version), or ask “Where would you like me to start?” This will allow the interviewer to give you some guidance on the key areas (s)he is interested in.
It is VERY IMPORTANT to always remember that the interviewer is the one who asked the question. So you should tailor your answer to what (s)he needs to know, without a lot of extraneous rambling or superfluous explanation. Why waste time and create a negative impression by giving a sermon when a short prayer would do just fine?
Other Points to remember:
Although it is unusual for an offer to be extended during the interview process, it has happened and is an event that must be considered. Therefore:
When the Offer is made…