Interview Success Starts Here
How to Succeed in a Job Interview – Part 1 of 2
Successful interviews happen when a targeted candidate and a targeted employer find one another, and confirm their mutual needs and expectations. Armed with your pre-interview research, your primary interview task is to let the hiring manager know you can, will and want to do the job. Use the guidelines below to help build answers to tough interview questions. Then, use the list of Tough Interview Questions at the end of this article to challenge and hone your interview skills.
Starting with the camouflaged opening question, “How are you today?” every question in an interview is an opportunity for you to let the employer know why they should hire you. What’s the right answer to some typical openers?
Q: How are you today?
A: I’m excited to be here today! I’m looking forward to finding out more about this opportunity! I believe I’m a great fit for this so I’m anxious to hear more!
Q: Before we begin, do you have any questions for me?
A: Yes! I’ve looked over the job post, and I’m sure I’m a good fit; I would just like to confirm that these are the things you’re looking for, and find out what other factors will be considered when you make your decision to hire.
Despite appearances, you are in control of your interview – or you should be! Your objective is to relay these points:
- Do you have the skills and education you need to do this job?
- Will you impact the department budget in a positive or a negative way?
- Have you done what they need before, and with what results?
- Can you do it again, and can you do it for them?
- What makes you different? What positive qualities or experiences make you a better choice than any other possible candidates?
- How long will it take you to become an asset to the company and to the manager?
Actual questions may vary and may cleverly try to distract or confuse you, but if you remember these important points, you’ll be able to answer just about anything that is thrown your way.
More about Interview Answers
During the interview your answers are gained from both verbal and non-verbal clues. Posture, dress, body-language and voice tone portray respect for yourself and the interviewer. Enthusiasm and job-confidence communicate your personal style and “fit” with the company and the team. Be concise, direct, and on-target with your responses. You’ll let the interviewer know you listen, and translate what you hear into directed and purposeful responses. It implies you’ll be able to do the same with actions.
Q: So, tell me about yourself?
A: “I’m an experienced marketing professional with a successful track record crafting strategies that create new customer revenue.” “Since getting my degree at UCSF in Marketing I’ve worked my way up from an intern to a serious marketing professional. My input to our marketing team at my last company produced about $250,000 additional dollars with several of our Fortune 2000 account campaigns. I really love the process of producing great marketing ideas and impacting the bottom line sales through my efforts in marketing! I’m anxious to find out more about how I can do that here.
Notice how this answer sticks to the point, provides a wealth of technical information, creates focus on the positive, and even prompts the interviewer to the next potential question – “tell me about that…” Congratulations; if you’ve got the right skills and experiences, you’re now in control of your interview!
Succinct, Positive Words that Focus on Achievements and Accomplishments
In these next examples, the interviewer wants to hear about achievements and accomplishments. Were results attached directly or indirectly to you? Did you work with a team? Did you produce revenue or advancements for the company? Is your performance reliable and replicable? Your answers will be dependent on the job type, but remember; focus your interview answers on results and accomplishments rather than tasks or procedures, and use the interview strategy to guide your answers.
Q: Tell me about what you did at your last company.
A: I was an IT Project Team Lead at ABC Company. We started out as the “Alliance Project Team” and ended up being known as the IT SWAT Team! We started with a very difficult project and did it so successfully that we were reorganized into a specialty Team sent into national initiatives that were hopelessly stuck or too hot to handle. We were the company problem solvers. Personally, I led business and technical teams through 7 different projects over the 4 years that I was there. I was originally tasked with creating mutually compatible technical interfaces and customized associated business processes for alliance of 5 medical centers. Eventually my role was analyzing and assessing issues, then creating and implementing project methodology. The smallest savings realized through my work was about $4 million on a $23 million budget. The largest was $47 million on a budget of $650 million. I averaged impacts to budget around 7-15%.
Q: What was the most difficult challenge you had to overcome, and how did you do it?
A: Our “SWAT Team,” relied on each team member’s individual strengths and our ability to work as a team. We arrived on difficult projects to either turn them off or turn them around. Our first hope was that we were going to create positive change. Our first obstacle was always to get people to “disarm!” The objective was to lead clients to consensually get past the problems and focus them on working toward their goal. One best example: after 2 years of failure, we led 64 lab managers into a single lab system RFP within 6 weeks. I devised the methodology, taught a team of 15 project managers and analysts what to do, and consulted with them as they implemented the strategy with the clients. The solution used a creative similarity-focused gap analysis and employed some specific consensus-producing procedures during strategically designed meetings. The results weren’t really surprising, but they were amazing! We ended up saving more than 6 months and $40 million!
Notice the important elements in both of these interview answers. They employ the interview strategy to answer the questions with succinct, positive and purposeful words. They indicate you knew your role, why you were there, and what you were there to do. They show you did “it” successfully, and you know how you produced that success. Try it yourself, with these examples of the most difficult interview questions;
Part 2 will cover answering tough interview questions.