Monday, September 12

INTERVIEW! 10 Commandments to help you through the INTERVIEW!

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10 Commandments to help you through the INTERVIEW!
Authored by: Ron Cottick, CPC, CHRM

The interview is an important part of getting a new job. It is inevitable that if you are going to get a new job you will be interviewing. Each interview is different and how you perform will be different for each interview you do. Outside of the other preparation you do for your interview, you should mentally prep for how you will conduct yourself during the interview. A preparation plan will be done for each interview since each interview is different from the rest; however, a preparation for performing essentially remains the same. You have a plan for your preparation, now here is your plan for performing.

1. ATTITUDE, is yours great?

Never underestimate what a great attitude can do for you. Think about it this way; would you like to interview someone with your attitude? Attitude is sometimes overrated but one thing you can be sure of, a great attitude is far better than a bad attitude. And when I reference attitude, I am referencing it for everything, not just the interview. If you are having a bad day, someone upset you before the interview or you are generally not in a good mood, it will affect your interview. If this is the case, stop and take a deep breath, clear your head, think about what you are about to do, the interview, and realign your attitude to be a great one. If yours is not great, do whatever it takes to make it a great ATTITUDE before your interview.

2. EARLY is on time!

Ever hear of Lombardi time? I first heard this when I was attending the US Air Forces Military Recruiting School years ago. The reference to Lombardi, the late great and infamous Head Coach of the Green Bay Packers, is that Vince Lombardi believed and professed that arriving 15 minutes before your scheduled time to arrive is being on time. Think about the analogy of this for a moment. How can you walk into an appointment seconds before the scheduled time, introduce your arrival and yourself, sit down and take a deep breath to relax and start the appointment on time? And many times you are asked to complete an application. How does that get done before your appointment if arrival is seconds before? Difficult at best, not is more likely. Whether you subscribe to Lombardi time, or whatever time you want to subscribe to, arrive EARLY to allow yourself enough time to take a deep breath, relax and complete the proverbial application.

3. Oh, and HUSTLE!

Show some bustle to your hustle, or, in other words, enthusiasm, energy, vibrancy and interest. Ask questions as well. You don’t want to ask questions for the sake of asking questions, however, questions are buying signs and show interest. Interest is why you are interviewing so show it. No one wants to interview someone who lacks these qualities. Enthusiasm, energy and vibrancy are self-explanatory. Interest is as well but I want to expand on interest. If you are not hearing what interests you, or, what you are looking for in the early stages of the interview, you should still show interest. It may turn out that as the interview progresses you will see things that are of interest to you and that your interest grows. A second interviewer could interest you more that the first interviewer. Regardless, think of it this way; if a lack of interest is initially perceived by the interviewers then you are likely to lose them. Ask yourself; have you ever lost your audience in a meeting, a presentation or a speech and tried to get them back? Very difficult if not near impossible. You don’t want to lose your interview audience. You can always say no to an offer if one were to come, but, if you have a lack of interest or there is a perceived lack of interest, you will likely be able to call the interview practice. So, be sure to show some HUSTLE! 

4. LISTENING; to follow instructions, are you really listening?

Knowing what to do when something is new to you requires listening to instructions, developing perceptions on how to prepare for it and how to act doing it. The company, the interviewer and the interview are likely to be new to you. In order to properly prepare and do your best during the interview requires listening to what will be expected of you. Your developed perception will help you determine how best to prepare and act. Listening for the hints to tip you off on what to prepare for, how to prepare and how to act will pay dividends. You will perform much better if you are properly prepared and act accordingly. Good LISTENING helps get you there.

5. LISTEN more, talk less!

Balancing your dialog during your interview is critical. Have you ever been in conversation with someone and carried on too much with an explanation of something? How about dominate a conversation? I’ve talked too much before, maybe you have too. Have you ever been on the other end where you felt you couldn’t get a word in edgewise or were even listened to? There is no perfect balance; the situation dictates what it should be. The important point here is that you want to answer questions accurately, informatively and completely without carrying on with irrelevant information, which happens very often. Dazzle your interviewers with your brilliance, not baffle them with your, well, you know. Your interview should be conversational, a sharing of information, not robotic, and, not dominant. You should know what to share, how to answer, what to answer. When someone belabors an explanation on something or an answer to a question, it implies they don’t know what they are talking about. They are scrambling for a good answer. If that is the case, you will likely lose your interviewer and it will be hard to get them back if you do. Good listening is more important than talking too much. If you are not listening well you may miss the gist of a question and unintentionally give a wrong answer to a question that you are very capable of answering. So listen, make sure you know what the question is by good listening and give an accurate, informative and complete answer. It is OK to restate the question to validate it, but you sure don’t want to give a wrong answer when you know the right one. Listening is an acquired skill and as with any skill, takes practice. So, if you need to, practice to LISTEN more.

6. Give the interview your very best as a matter of PRINCIPLE!

Sometimes people have or show a lack of enthusiasm, energy or interest in what they are doing. It can be from lack of knowledge of what they are doing, lack of confidence or no interest in what they are doing. They are not putting forth their best effort. That could show a lack of character and less than stellar work ethic. When people do their best they are showing character and exhibiting an excellent work ethic. Ever hear of “you are what you eat”? Well “you are what you do”! When I attended the US Air Forces Military Recruiting School, every morning and every time we came back to the classroom after lunch or a break, everyone in class was required to shout out in unison “boy, am I enthusiastic”! At first, most everyone thought it was a lame exercise, but later it was proven to have a very positive impact on everyone. That exercise motivated everyone to do their very best in class. Whatever you do to get yourself in an appropriate frame of mind and do your very best in what you do, your objective should be to do your very best. It shows when someone is doing their best and they are generally rewarded for it. The moral here is not just to have the right frame of mind for what you do, but as an element of who you are and what you do. As a matter of PRINCIPLE, do the very best you can!

7. SKIP the gossip, opt out!

Stay away from gossip, opt out! Don’t buy into rumors, they are just gossip with another name. Gossip can take different forms and what may not appear as gossip could very well be construed as gossip by just the way it is presented. Many times, an interviewer will ask questions about your current company, your management, product line, what’s going on and how it’s going. They may ask you about your likes and dislikes. You will be expected to answer such questions but be careful how you answer them. Answer them like you would any other interview question; you want to answer questions accurately, informatively and completely being careful not to give away any information that is considered confidential or irrelevant. Stay positive with your answers as well. The way you answer these types of questions will do several things; establish your professionalism in the way you answer the questions and how you would respond if you were their employee. No one is looking for a water cooler gossiper and if there is any idea that you may be, your interview will likely be over. You probably will not be able to avoid those kinds of questions but how you handle them will tell volumes about the kind of person you are, about your character and your professionalism. Chose not to distribute gossip; SKIP the gossip!

8. Don’t BASH the boss, policy or show negativity!

Many times you will be asked about how you work with management and your relationship with management. Behavioral questions are becoming more popular. One series of questions you may get goes something like this; “Was there ever a time when you were asked to do something by your manager that you disagreed with”? “If so how did you handle it”? “What was the outcome”? If someone did not have a very good relationship with their manager it would easy to “bash” the boss in the way the questions were answered, the tone of voice and the angst that rises as the question is being answered. Don’t think this isn’t possible, think back to a time when you answered a question about an unpleasant situation. I know it can happen and you probably do too. Regardless of the exact question or how it is asked, the point here is to not bash the boss or show negativity in your response. Be very diplomatic, professional, positive, and, answer the question accurately, informatively and completely. How you answer the question will tell as much about you as much as to what the answer actually is. It can be construed as a test as to how you would talk about them if they employed you. Never good to be negative or BASH.

9. Show DISCIPLINE dipped in diligence!

I like to use the term “comfortably confident” when I brief someone going into an interview. I am not employing cocky and arrogant. If someone goes into an interview with anything less than comfortably confident, they show a lack of self control and discipline. Diligence instills discipline and discipline breed’s confidence. If you know what you are doing, confident in your ability, is there any reason you wouldn’t show it in everything you do? Continued long term discipline helps insure success in what someone does. Diligence helps get them there. Presenting yourself confidently illustrates that to others. The interviewer is not likely to take an interest in someone who is not diligent, discipline or confident. Have it, practice it and show it. Exercise your DISCIPLINE in your interview.

10. Get it DONE!

Getting it done is not just about your tasks, your job or the projects you are in or get involved with, it is as much about your attitude as well. When you illustrate a “get it done” attitude there will likely be less to explain about the get it done in what you do. You instill confidence in others that you can get it done and the proof is what you have gotten done. Your hard and fast examples discussed during an interview are easy enough to validate, how you present yourself validates your “get it done” attitude. Present yourself well in your interview and you will show you can get it DONE!

Some say attitude is everything; I say attitude is almost everything. How you control it and having it is the everything. Each of these commandments has ATTITUDE in them. To get the most out of your interview you need to be aware of your attitude when you interview. Let your attitude help influence your performance and you will likely see the success you are looking for as a result of your interview.

There is much that can be said about interviewing but I think most would agree that without the right attitude, you’re swimming up stream. I know for a fact that the right attitude can overcome a weakness in another area. The weakness could be from lack of training or experience and at the time of the interview can’t be changed, however, you have control over attitude and it can be controlled and changed. Learn these commandments, keep them in mind when preparing for your INTERVIEW and you will be miles ahead of the competition.

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