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AQS Recruiters

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An Executive Search Firm . . . filling your needs

137 Tropical Lane, Corpus Christi, Texas 78408

phone: 361-882-3380

Cel: 361-779-4811






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

  • Company Website - Make another review of the company’s web site, making notes of information that would be relevant to your prospective position.
  • Other Resources - Make use of any other sources of information available such as network contacts, industry resources, your recruiter’s knowledge, etc.
  • Questions - Begin your list of questions, remember some of these questions will be to gain information while others will be asked for effect. The interviewer does not know the extent of your investigation, the time and effort you have spent to learn about them. Ask questions regarding some technical aspect of a process or procedure that will powerfully demonstrate the extent of your knowledge.
  • Bring your questions with you – have them ready in your planner, and also be prepared to take notes during your interview. We all write down important things we want to remember … without saying a word you can demonstrate the value you place on the information conveyed by the interviewer.
  • 1st Impressions - Keep in mind that first impressions are critical. Each person you meet will be evaluating some aspect of your experience, training, accomplishments, and knowledge. They will also be probing to determine your attitude, stability, work style, motivation, and business sense. So remember, it is not only what you say but how you say it that is important. As each interviewer tries to determine your rightness for the position, be prepared to answer a number of question about the opportunity and how your experience relates to the company’s present and future needs. A good method of preparation is to write down points you would like to make and/or relevant answers to questions that will likely be asked. Play with the wording until you are happy with the phrasing and repeat it back to yourself. Rehearsing in this manner will make your presentation smoother without sounding memorized. You WILL be nervous in the interviews, this preparation will make key phrases more readily available when you are under pressure.



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…


  • My recommendation is and will remain that candidates dress for a site visit in a

·        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.

  1. Enthusiasm --- Leave no doubt as to your level of interest in the job. You may think it’s unnecessary to do this, but employers often choose the more enthusiastic candidate in the case of a two-way tie. Besides, it’s best to keep your options open -- wouldn’t you rather be in a position to turn down an offer, than have a prospective job evaporate from your grasp by giving a lethargic interview?
  2. Technical Interest --- Employers look for people who love what they do; people who get excited by the prospect of tearing into the nitty-gritty of the job.
  3. Confidence --- No one likes a braggart, but the candidate who’s sure of his or her abilities will almost certainly be more favorably received.
  4. Intensity --- The last thing you want to do is come across as "flat" in your interview. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being a laid-back person; but sleepwalkers rarely get hired.


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:

  • Maintain a positive attitude at all times. An unexpected event, delay, or unusual circumstance might be an excellent opportunity to show the way you operate under pressure, resolve difficulties, and are able to implement creative, workable solutions.
  • Remember you are interviewing at all times, even at dinner, an evening party, or tour.
  • We are judged by the quality of the questions we pose, they show you possess the knowledge, interest, and expertise to ask them.
  • Keep in mind that although interviewing styles may vary, few interviewers can resist a candidate who is obviously excited by the opportunity presented - so, approach the whole process with a positive, enthusiastic, and confident attitude.
  • Business Card - Obtain a business card from each interviewer and/or write down their name and address (either mailing or email). Make sure you have the spelling correct, after the interview is complete send each interviewer a thank you note. Express your appreciation for their effort, reinforce one or two key areas that your skills meet their interest, and convey your excitement about working with them.


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…

  • DO NOT EVER decline an offer as it is presented - no matter what your initial reaction might be. As long as the offer is on the table you have options to negotiate. Even a base amount that you may perceive as too low might have other factors not immediately evident that make it a great offer!
  • When the offer is made I recommend that you ask for a few days to consider the details and ask for the package in writing.
  • Contact AQS to go over any questions/concerns you might have. Our knowledge and understanding of the company can help you in your decision process.



Good Luck,




phone: 361-882-3380

Cel: 361-779-4811