Upgrade Your Interview Skills, Part 2

upgrade your interview skills part 2 interview

Written by CareerNet Nation

April 10, 2023

Resume Review for

CareerNet Nation Members

Interview Upgrade – Part 2

or, The Top 7 issues our company clients speak to us about.

 

Important: If you haven’t read Upgrade you Interviews, Part 1  – we’re not nagging you – but you should. Here is the link. We’ll put it into the bottom of this post as well.

Intro

We do hear a lot about interviews and the issues our company clients have “experienced” with CareerNet Nation candidates. Ahead of your next interview, whether it’s one of ours or one you find on your own (just as good!), we wanted to share their top 7 concerns and the fixes so you are better prepared. Better prepared means you will be more confident. More confident means you will be more relaxed. Relaxed but ready is the mental place you want to be in. Remember it’s a process.  Really, and it’s quite likely a process you are not aware of.

Issue #1 – “They were not prepared.”

We’ve all heard this one. But what does it really mean? Sure, it means have a look at the company’s web site. Have a review of the Job Description. Think about how you will respond to questions that may arise from your experiences as they relate directly to the job experience.  That’s how you prepare for an interview.

Most people do not interview well.

That’s the truth. But we don’t mean the candidates; we mean the company professionals doing the interviewing. BUT, most companies think they interview great. (They don’t). They rarely prepare, just look at your resume a few seconds before your interview and try to quickly have a thought about what questions to ask you. I’m here to tell you that this lack of preparation by the company interviewer is your problem, AND your opportunity

Be ready to talk in a concise way about your experiences and how they meet the requirements of the job description. An easy question that always comes up: “So what do you know about [my Company]?”. Definitely have an answer for that one.

And try not to judge.

Hiring pros at most companies see a few dozen people in a week. They have a work life balance too. They can’t get to know you. This is your opportunity to be remembered. Personal note: As a 20 something I had an interview with GE Finance. Once the hottest, fastest growing finance company in the world. The HR Pro had 20 interviews that day. He asked me what I knew about GE. I had just read a book written by their famous CEO, Jack Welch and I just started talking about their Six Sigma employee system. I didn’t know what else to say, GE was the biggest most valuable company in the world (#DatingMyself).

I really knew very little about Six Sigma, but the thing is, I knew enough. Maybe 2 or 3 sentences.

The result? I was sent straight to the final interview round.

That’s another example of why being prepared is important.  And this is what interviewers are looking for.

Issue #2. “They arrived late.”

Sounds petty, yes?  It’s not. Being prompt is an important part of business and work culture. It’s ok for the interviewer to make you wait a bit. But it’s not ok for you to make them wait. Even by a minute.  That means being available 2 -3 minutes before the video interview and 15 minutes before an in person interview. If you are going to an office, you never know what the reception and security requirements are. And if the security process is 10 minutes or more, that’s on you.

Issue #3. “They were dressed inappropriately.”

Need a primer? Here is another link to a popular article Dress Code for CareerNet Nation. All your answers are there.

Issue #4. “They didn’t seem too excited about the job.”

That comes down to enthusiasm. Look CareerNet Nation, no one is asking you to perform cartwheels or offer video fist bumps (don’t do that btw).  But companies don’t want to interview tired or bored people. An interview is a conversation. It’s sort of like a first date (not in a weird way). Smile, show a little charisma. Be polite. Speak up. Don’t keep looking at your watch. SCILENCE THAT PHONE.  Your goal is to get that job or get that next interview at least. An interview should “feel” important to you. That “feeling” should reflect in your tone and your responsiveness. Think about it. Maybe just try a bit harder to engage in the conversation.

Issue #5. “They talked too much.” Or “They talked too little.”

I know, how do you handle that one?  I actually think it’s easier for Gen Z. You all seem to be balanced and respectful in conversations. But for the rest of us, this can be tricky. Me, I always talked way too much. Strike a balance between talking too much and monopolizing the conversation and talking too little and not providing enough information. Think about it as a conversation where you need to be on your toes.

Maybe this will help. When your teacher asked you to stay after class and you knew it was not a good thing, how did you handle it? Did you anticipate, try to control the conversation, and then get into more trouble or, did you politely ask, “What’s up?” and then LISTEN.

Listening is the best way to relax and think about an answer.

Try to get a sense for the interviewer’s speech cadence.  Long sentences or short sentences?  Multiple subjects or single subjects. Then reflect their speech cadence back to them in a way that is your own. You want them to speak and lead you a bit. Don’t make the mistakes I’ve made and try to lead the conversation in an interview. It comes off as rude and overly confident. (Wish someone had told me that.)

Issue #6 “They were a bit negative about their current company.”

That’s an easy trap to fall into and one that virtually every interviewer likes to trap you in. The question is generally, “Why did you leave your last company?” or “Why do you want to leave your company?”

Don’t fall for that one.

The right answer here is something like this:

“It’s a good company with good people. But they don’t offer much advancement / career growth.  I’m looking to continue building my career with a growing company.  I was excited to find out that your company was growing and hiring.”

Do not be negative and speak poorly about your current or recent company in any way. And if you have been laid off, we all have, that’s an easy one. Just tell the truth. “My company downsized, and my Team was let go.”

IF you were let go, and it happens, be prepared to answer that question up front and honestly.

Prepare an answer that briefly explains what happened without going into too much detail. You were surprised but understood why they let you go. Leave it at that. This question will come up when they check your references, and you want to be in front of it with your narrative. Just do not be negative, even if the decision your company made about you was not a fair or equitable one.

Issue #7 “They didn’t follow up.”

Back when a few of my older co-workers were interviewing, you sent handwritten letters of thanks with actual stamps in lovely little envelopes to the person who interviewed you. Then waited for a phone call, rejection letter or offer letter to come in the mail. So really there is no excuse these days to forget to send a thank you note by email to the person who interviewed you. 

They gave you their card right?

Let’s talk about what needs to be in these thank you notes.

If you are happy or ok with the interview, simply say thank you for meeting with me and that you hope to hear back from them soon.

If you feel like you blew it in the interview and were not able to communicate your interest or value to the interviewer, write that to them. Tell them that you are enthusiastic about the company and offer a sentence on what you thought you missed or didn’t have the opportunity to say.  Take a shot. You never know. And then thank them again for the interview.  But no more than 4 sentences TOTAL. Otherwise, it feels desperate. You don’t want that.

There is never a “too soon” on these thank you notes, but there is a “too late”. Do not let the workday of your interview go by without sending a thank you email. If you wait a day, you’d better have a reason – and not that your internet went out or you lost your phone.  Seriously you can write an email in a blink of an eye waiting for the bus.

What if you don’t hear back from them after a few days?

Just follow up again. “Hi [Name of Interviewer], I’m just checking back on my interview on the [date]. I’m hoping you may have some feedback.” And last, don’t take a short response or the lack of a response personally. It’s not personal.  Positive energy is actually a real thing! Upgrade Your Interviews, Part 1

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