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2012-366 Day 128 – Interview Advice

Yes, this is a follow up to my Resume Advice post from a couple weeks ago, as we conducted the interviews attached to the resumes we reviewed. Identities will, of course, be kept well secret, as it’s the content that is important anyway. As one of the few people who actually likes being interviewed, I’ll be throwing in some of my own experiences as well as dealing with the errors of today.

1) It’s not a sprint – We had four interviews today, one of approximately forty minutes, one about a half an hour, and two a bit over fifteen minutes each. Want to guess the order of preference we are leaning towards? That’s right 40, 30, 15, and 15. We had nineteen questions, a little time for introductions and job descriptions at the beginning, and some time for Q and A at the end. Considering the overhead for asking the questions and the bookend intro and ending portions, we definitely should not be averaging LESS than a minute per question. Avoid responses like, “No.”

2) Do your homework – I don’t expect you to know every little detail about who we are and what we do, but when we ask you what about the job description appealed to you, your response should not be to pick up the job description and read it to yourself for over 30 seconds. Furthermore, if you just read a job description which contained the acronym “OCR” in it seven times, you should at least reference it in your response. It was obvious which of the applicants had looked into what we might be asking about and which ones were coming in by the seat of their pants.

3) Be a little vulnerable – If the interview panel asks you what you have disliked about any of your previous positions, your answer should never be, “Nothing.” It’s easy to think of your interviewers as a robotic panel spitting out questions and recording responses, but one should never forget they are human beings, and they know that EVERYONE has gotten frustrated at a job in one aspect or another. Even if it’s something minor to moderate (and to be honest, it probably should be, this isn’t the forum to come clean about the sexual harassment you’ve been undergoing at the hands of your CEO – TO BE CLEAR, THIS DID NOT HAPPEN TODAY), you need to come up with something lest the panel assume that you are totally being phony with them, willing to say anything to get the job (and at this point, you are).

4) Show and tell – We’re going to segue to one of my interviews here (specifically my first for Admissions and Records). In going for an first level Information Technology Consultant position, I wanted to demonstrate how experienced and well rounded I was. Anticipating that the panel might ask for an example of some documentation I had produced or even just having it to bring up on my own at the end (and having recently created some good documentation for setting up some Accessibility software the campus was installing), I brought several copies with me to the interview. The question came up in the interview and my response was not a listing of items that I had documented, but instead a physical example of that topic which I handed to each of the interview panel. I also listed off other documentation projects I had done, but I have to imagine it was surprising to have someone hand you an example of what you are looking for. We ask this question on our interview panels and I keep waiting for someone to pull the same trick, but I have so far been disappointed.

5) Experience counts – It was pretty easy to tell that the shorter interviews were the product of the interviewees not having a lot of experience in an interview setting. Obviously the main way to get more interview experience is to go on more interviews, but in this job market that may be challenging. Another option is to find someone you know that is good at interviewing and/or works in an HR setting and ask them if you could borrow an hour of their time to help you practice your interview skills. You can go all out with a fake position and interview panel (if they agree, of course) or even just go out for coffee and have a back and forth, but just putting in the reps is going to make you better at interviewing. Confidence is vital in an interview setting and, if you don’t have it naturally (if you do, awesome), then it can, to some degree, be taught through experience.

Weight: 229 Loss: 11 lbs – Running Yearly Mileage: 142 miles
Fitocracy Level: 20 (46700 points, 4650 to next level) – ID: disciplev1

Posted in Matt 2012-366, Matt General. Tagged with , .

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  1. m said

    Great interview advice. Actually makes me want to go on one 🙂

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