A Closer Look At Two Interview Questions
A job interview is stressful. The person who hasnít made a lot
of changes isnít practiced at what is involved (nor should they want
to be), and the person who has made a lot of changes doesnít have
any idea as to whatís involved either, or they wouldnít be making so
Preparing for the interview de-stresses the situation
considerably. Yet, 78% of all candidates - regardless of the level
for which they are interviewing - wing it! And frequently cause
themselves to be weeded out in the process.
Like so much of
the interview, seemingly innocent questions can trip you up. You
think you are answering them in a way that puts you in the best
light, but you'd be surprised at how many people completely miss the
boat. Merely to hope an interview has a positive result is not
enough. That's basically forfeiting your ability to drive up the
percentage of a positive outcome.
For instance, in response
to the question, "Why do you want to work here?" some people will
say things such as:
"I've worked in this industry for 15
years and been very successful. I feel I can make a difference in
your organization. I have a proven track record of leadership. I've
read in the paper that your company is having some problems, and
with my experience as a Director of XXXXX, I can help straighten
That answer may sound good and appear to suffice,
but on a scale of 1 - 10, it ranks about a 4!
Why? The answer
shows no research, no thought, no consideration. It sounds stock and
could suffice for any number of companies. Overall, unimpressive.
In my experience as a recruiter, I've found that while mid level
management tends to UNDERanswer the question, upper level management
will often OVERanswer the question. One group doesn't provide enough
information because of a limited lack of experience. The other group
has been around, worked their way up the ladder in more than one
company, and in their attempt to sound thoughtful, intelligent, and
wise, end up saying very little at all.
Let's look closer.
WHY DO YOU WANT TO WORK HERE?
Here's where you get to show off
your research. Tell the interviewer what you've learned about the
company, and why it's appealing to you. SPECIFICS are the key here.
Relate those specific examples from your experience to what you've
learned about the company, their focus, and their market. Look to
your personality and what motivates you and how that relates to any
details you learned from the ad, your recruiter, your friend who
referred you, or from where you learned of this opportunity.
For instance, perhaps their ad stated that they were looking to
establish a marketing department from ground up. If you thrive on
growth, challenges, making things happen - there's your answer -
along with examples of how you have grown, established, or done
market research in a parallel situation.
And you might ask,
"What if it's not a high profile company? What if it's on the small
side and local?" Right. Not every company is the size of General
Electric or even a regional public powerhouse that you can look up
in Dun & Bradstreet.
But most librarians are more than
willing to help you find any information that might be present in
any of their research books. Local newspapers may have done stories
on the company, and the library would have those too. And these
days, most companies have a website.
Share what you can do
and why you feel you can make a contribution and benefit the
company. This question is about how YOU can benefit the company, not
how the company can benefit YOU.
TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF
Some interviews are lost right at this point. This is not an
invitation to go on ad nauseum about everything that has happened to
you since you were five years old or since your first job out of
college. Nor is it the time to shrug your shoulders and give an
unplanned, one-sentence answer.
Some people, especially those
who haven't prepared and have a tendency to talk when they get
nervous, find themselves rambling. Put together a nice little 2 - 3
minute verbal bio about your career, your qualifications, and why
you are interested. Know what you're going to say in advance.
A FEW POINTS TO REMEMBER
In recruiting we used to say, "'A'
candidates for 'A' companies, 'B' candidates for 'B' companies and
'C' candidates for 'C' companies," and a 'B' candidate is not only
some one who's talents and track record is only so-so, it's also an
'A' candidate whose poor interviewing skills MAKE him a 'B.'
Knowing who you are, what you want, what you have to offer and what
you've accomplished - and having it all on the tip of your tongue -
can make or break you for a job offer - not just for your perfect
job, but sometimes for even finding ANY job.
Being able to
sell yourself, your skills, how you can benefit a potential company
and then being able to close the deal necessitates taking the time
to research and learn the company. It means knowing yourself well
enough that you can apply aspects of your capabilities to the
individual facts and details of that INDIVIDUAL company - and that
you can do it smoothly without groping for words or just winging it.
And last, but not least, the words of Peter Handal of Dale Carnegie
Training, echo the importance of interview preparation, including
what strikes most people as silly - role playing. But as he said,
"you only have one chance to make a really good impression," and if
you don't take it seriously enough to study and thoroughly prepare,
someone else will, and that's the person who will get the job!
Do your homework before EVERY interview! There's no chance to
make a second good impression!
About the Author:
Judi Perkins has been a contingency and retained search consultant
for 25 years, with a short stint in the temporary and local
permanent placement market. She has owned her own firm and hired
repeatedly by numerous repeat clients. Learn how to attract a
recruiter - and thousands of other job tips at