How to Face an Interview – Expert Advice
Based on real experiences, describe how you previously performed the position requirements and state that you can and want to do them again. The vignette is the vehicle for relating your experiences.
When questions are asked, provide a brief, direct answer followedby one or more vignettes to demonstrate how you previously performed a similar position requirement mentioned in the question. Use vignettes that support position requirements for as many questions as possible.
Present a common theme to your answers, a consistent story, and a very narrow focus for each response to demonstrate that you have performed each of the position requirements.
“Brainwash” the interviewer with vignettes and you might create the perception that you can do much more than is required. Everyone likes a good story, and they enable interviewers to sell your candidacy to other members of the management team.
1. Read relevant articles as part of interview preparation and refer to them in your response to an appropriate question. Kathygot her first interview with a software company a month after receiving a computer science degree.
The company developed and sold computer-aided design (CAD) software and one of the requirements was installation and user training experience with the company’s CAD offering. Kathy had not worked with that company’s package so she conducted extensive research during interview preparation for information on the CAD software.
She found a press release describing a successful client installation and reviewed the company’s web site and other literature describing the features of the software. When the interviewer asked Kathy if she previously installed the CAD package, her response was honest.
She replied that although she did not install the software, shewas very knowledgeable about its features, benefits, pricing, training requirements, and other factors.
She proceeded to describe the installation experience appearing on the company’s press release and she spoke about the software’s key features and benefits to the end-user. The interviewer was impressed and she was invited for a second interview.
Use of Preparation Knowledge
Knowledge about the company, its products, management, and culture must be played back in such a way that interviewers are convinced that the job seeker knows as much as a well-informed employee.
Although job seekers might have obtained company knowledge in the few days and evenings prior to the interview, the best use of the information is to convey it as if it were known for longer that just the previous day or week. This is accomplished by stating company information as a matter of fact, as an employee might do.
An excellent technique is to mention a competing product by telling the interviewer how much better a company’s product isviewed in the marketplace. That will demonstrate your knowledge of competitors and could be a home run. Besides, a little praise goes a long way.
Facing an Experienced Interviewer
It is safe to assume that most gatekeepers are experienced interviewers because of the large numbers of candidates interviewed each year. Although there are exceptions, the same assumption should not be made for hiring managers.
Many experienced interviewers use the behavioral interviewing technique to evaluate candidate ability to perform position requirements.
This interviewing technique plays into the strengths of job seekers who follow the preparation guidelines for the vignette strategy. Vignettes are what these interviewers are looking for, and they are the perfect defense for an interviewer’s assault with behavioral questions.
The same experienced interviewers might also painstakingly crawltheir way through a résumé by asking job seekers to explain how they completed a certain task, why they did it, why they did not do it, why they left each company, why they joined each company, and many more questions that might provide some insight into competence level, intelligence, personality, and ability to perform the job functions.
The responses might help the interviewer to form a ‘chemistry’opinion. Job seekers must put up with this painstaking form of interrogation and respond to each question in clear, specific terms in a confident, enthusiastic, and positive manner. For each question, reach back into your experiences and make certain that by the end of the interview you provided vignettes covering all position requirements more than once.
The Inexperienced Interviewer
The other end of the spectrum for interviewer experience includesthose who may be experts in their field but are novices at interviewing.
This is exhibited by superficial questions, perhaps none being related to the open position. Inexperienced interviewers do not know how to determine if a job seeker satisfies the position needs. These interviews can be deceiving to job seekers who might falsely believe they hit it off well with the interviewer.
That was an easy interview— we didn’t even talk about the job. Wrong. These interviewers generally conclude that the job seeker is not qualified for the position because the job seeker did not talk about the job. The interviewer is always right.
Success with an inexperienced interviewer requires that job seekers be more forthcoming in presenting their accomplishments that relate to the position requirements. If the interviewer is still in the bonding mode after twenty or thirty minutes, then the job seeker must take the initiative.
The first half hour could truly have resulted in developing a great relationship, but there is not much time remaining for job seekers to accomplish their mission: to convince the interviewer that you have performed all the requirements for the position and have a passion for doing them again.
Change the direction of the conversation in a very light, but direct way. I am really enjoying our conversation, Ann, but this is my only opportunity to convince you that I have the background your organization needs for the grant coordinator position.
May I share some relevant experiences with you? Be polite and modest without being pushy and controlling. The inexperienced interviewer should be delighted that you are offering to share some experiences. Now, the interviewer can take some notes of substance and develop a more informative and positive opinion.
A Discouraging Interviewer
One of the interviewers might present negative aspects of the job for which you are interviewing. For example, the scope is too limited for someone with your experience, end users are so difficult to deal with that they caused the resignation of two incumbents, and budgets are usually cut in mid-year. The intent is usually to discourage you from taking the job offer if one is presented.
Job seekers encountering this attitude should thank the interviewer for their candid assessment, express strong interest in the position and mention that you will consider each of the points if you should receive an offer.
Do not be discouraged if you have this experience with only one of several interviewers. However, if your only interviewer acted in this manner, then you are likely not the interviewer’s favorite candidate.