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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Interview Tips

Interviews are a lot of work and require serious preparation. Review your recent performance and have examples of how you 1) solved a complex issue, 2) displayed leadership, 3) exhibited team spirit. Focus on accomplishments. Review in detail the requirements of this new post. Wear a nice suit
and be clean-shaved. Anticipate possible questions and have some well prepared responses. Be ready to ASK GOOD QUESTIONS.

Being nervous is natural, especially for an important experience you are about to go through. Some suggestions:

- Review the company, the division and the people you are going to work for. Learn as much about them, their products, their vision, their mission, etc...
Study online resources for this information, but also get on the phone, even seek meetings (informal ones) with others in the company, or with those
who know the company. This is considered a normal/natural part of your job seeking homework, by the way. Learn all you can, as it’s in your best

- Have one, or more, people who you know/trust to give you a series of mock interviews. What worked generally in this area (your mileage may vary!) was for anyone mock interviewer to set up a series of 3-5 interviews, each was to be a new/unique session and to put them through a variety of typical scenario's. Each session was treated like a full and FORMAL job interview, to include suit, demeanor and complete interview set of questions, answers and discussion. Afterward there was a blunt and candid review of what the objectives for that session were (from HIS perspective), what areas they did well on, where they did poorly/badly, identification of areas of opportunity where they missed out on something good (or bad) to capitalize on, and objective suggestions for improving body language,demeanor, language, and attitude. The reviews afterward were essential to improving my understanding of THEMSELVES and what they MUST improve in order to get
through the interview. For me, this proved to be a winning move.

- Go into the interview eager and ready to experience it. Relish and enjoy every moment of it. You will get to do it so infrequently, that this is a golden opportunity to experience to the fullest. You may think I'm kidding ---I'm not. By adjusting yourself so that this IS your mindset and approach, you'll find it not only enjoyable, but very rewarding as well.

- Try this approach on being calm---think about, and continuously remind yourself in productive, enriching and positive ways that you will calmly and rationally be successful in this interview. Mentally focus on what you WANT, vice what you don't want. It’s fine to honestly self-evaluate how you are
today. What is really important is HOW will you improve? What can you do better, and what are you doing about it now? Another approach is that being nervous is your minds way of telling you to be careful. You are in control of yourself. You decide what is important or worrisome. So, tell your mind what to think and how to act. Such an improvement can occur over time when you are persistent. Think about it. Side note: I've found in life, people who focus on what they don't want, or like, as the case may be, don't see how negative that is. They really believe that by telling themselves NOT to do something that somehow, magically, the RIGHT thing they are supposed to be doing will magically occur. It doesn't work that way. I've found when you positively and actively WANT something to occur, then make that accomplishment the focus of your attention --- it happens. I believe that occurs because you've DONE something, as opposed to the alternative of attempting to NOT do something. I believe the former is a positive builder in our lives. Be optimistic.

- Be honest regarding what you can do, and only volunteer what you are bad at, or cannot do when questioned about something specific that you can't do. Its reasonable to know your limitations, and that you can candidly explain the breadth of your abilities (and limits). If you find they focus on 'stuff'
you don't know, its ok. Expect such questions and take them in stride. Follow up with your speed/willingness to learn ..

The telephone interview or candidate screen allows the employer to determine if the candidate's qualifications, experience, workplace preferences and salary needs are congruent with the position and organization. The telephone interview saves managerial time and eliminates unlikely candidates. While I recommend developing a customized interview for each position, this generic interview will guide you.

You want to ask enough questions to determine if the person is a viable candidate. Remember, you have already screened many resumes and applications to come up with your short list of telephone screening candidates. These should be your best prospects at this point in your recruiting process.

Here at, we want our candidates to reflect well on us, this means we have to not waste your time with inappropriate positions, but sometimes this in itself is not enough. The demand for candidates is high, but so is the competition for securing the most lucrative positions, in the most exciting projects.

We believe that effective interview preparation and technique, will help make a big difference whether you are trying to secure that next big career move or the SAP consultant’s three month contract worth circa £45,000 to you in income. If you look at the monetary value alone, your ability to perform well at interview, becomes very worthwhile and is a part of your skillset that you should not neglect.


Preparing for interviews helps you to:

Anticipate questions and prepare answers such that you present yourself in a clear and concise manner. It also improves the accuracy and completeness of the answer. Customise your answers in line with the job requirements, organisation culture/norms and industry facts. This helps you to relate past experience to current job requirements and to provide convincing examples/experiences in relation to the organisation/ industry/project deliverables.


While preparation covers all aspects, you may like to concentrate on three core areas. This does not mean preparation excludes areas such as knowledge of company, job and industry. These are also important as knowledge of these aspects show the interviewee's interest.

Technical Preparation

Key areas to pay attention to pre-interview are:
Does the role require technical skillsets that I already have or need to acquire?
What are my key examples of work in this specific technical discipline?
What are my areas of strength, relevant to this role?
What do I anticipate are the most important technical skillsets for the client?
How can I best demonstrate my ability in those key skillsets?
What technical questions can I ask that will demonstrate an appreciation of the interviewers typical technical issues/problems? (Especially useful if you know the key project objectives in advance).

Operational Preparation
Preparation in this area concentrates on the use of technical knowledge in a project or work environment.
This shifts from being able to demonstrate technical knowledge, to demonstrating the role that you have performed and can perform in a work environment or project lifecycle. The interviewees experience during usage of technical knowledge. This could vary for different roles. For example; Programmers would need to know about debuggers, profilers, tool or utilities etc.

Analyst /Designer Would need to know methodology (SSAD, OOM), standards (IEEE, ANSI, CUA), environment (utilities) etc. Project Managers Would need to know have technology awareness (versions, new releases), available techniques ( tools, standards ), quality assurance (measurements, test management), configuration management (version control, change management) project management (planning, organizing reporting), user requirements and contractual obligations. The depth would be an over-view of all levels for technical knowledge.

Personal Preparation
This area would include presentation of positive traits and habits. In addition to this it is important to concentrate on developing appropriate communication skills, again, how you say something can count for a great deal. This is hard to prepare for, they are registered by the interviewer through your use of language, demeanour, mannerisms and delivery of your responses to their questions. If you maintain a professional, positive and focussed outlook in the interview, you should be fine. Typical criteria that are being looked at by the interviewer will include:

Presentation skill.
Confidence level
Comprehension Brevity
Logical & concise responses.
Command of language
Power of expression
Closing an Interview.
Keep it simple, brief and professional.
Ask if the interviewer has any further questions or would like further information (references, certificates, technical assessments).
Confirm that you have enjoyed the meeting, you are very interested in the role and company, would readily attend another interview or can start on (date) if offered.
Is there another stage, when is a decision to be made?

Thank the interviewer for their time and that you look forward to hearing from them soon.

Post interview.
Don't be too discouraged if no definite next stage is mentioned, they may have to discuss with colleagues. Keep positive. If you get the impression that the interview is not going well, don't let that show as you may have misread the situation.

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