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Useful Tips For Candidates

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Interview Preparation 

Preparation is essential for presenting yourself in the best possible manner during an interview.

It’s important to make a great impression during an interview. Here are 10 basic tips to convince a prospective employer that you’re the one for the job.

1. Thoroughly research the job and company. Gather as much information as you can about the company. Know the history, products, mission, and goal of the company at the corporate level and get any information you can about it on a local level. Corporate information is easily obtained. Most companies now have internet sites that provide all the information you need. If you do not know their internet address, we would suggest using Yahoo or any of the other numerous search engines.

2. Bring an extra copy of your resume – just in case.

3. Make eye contact. It shows that you are focused and confident.

4. Demonstrate interest and enthusiasm about the company.

5. Dress professionally. Regardless of the type of position that you are applying for, look your best. Sometimes candidates will have to come directly from work and are unable to change clothes. If this is the case, let the interviewer know beforehand. You do not want the interviewer to perceive your appearance as a negative. Make all efforts to change clothes. Men should wear a well-pressed suit, white shirt, conservative tie, well-polished shoes, and have a neat appearance. Women should dress in a well-tailored, conservative manner. Although many companies now maintain a casual dress policy, it is always better to be overdressed than underdressed.

6. Try to respond to questions within 60 seconds. You don’t want to be monosyllabic but lengthy responses will make the employer lose interest and you might lose your own focus.

7. Listen and respond to answers directly. If you are unclear about a question, ask for clarification.

8. Be prepared to discuss how what you’ve done in the past will affect how you’ll perform in the future position. Give examples that show value.

9. Ask questions. Sharp questions show that you are proactive and want to make sure that this company is the right place for you. Remember that interviewing is a two-way street. You need to determine if this is a good fit for you, as well as being a good fit for the company. Some sample questions:

- Why is this position available?
- What are the job requirements?
- Advancement potential?
- What are the company's future plans?
- What is the next step in the interviewing process?

10. Send a thank you note within two days of the interview. Express you interest in the position and thank the interviewer for his or her time. Even if you’re not interested in the job, you never know who might be a good contact for you down line.

If you follow these steps you are sure to be prepared and already far ahead of many other candidates applying for the same position.

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You should now be ready for The Interview.

 

The Interview

The interview is actually a very simple process if you are prepared. This is your time to demonstrate your aptitude to perform the job that you are interviewing for.

1. Be professional, confident and look your best. The first impression is a lasting impression. Unfortunately most hiring authorities draw conclusions about candidates’ way too early in the interview process.

2. Bring a pen and pad (notebook) with questions written down pertaining to the position. (i.e. What is expected of me? What happened to the prior incumbent?)

3. Make the interviewer talk 60% - 70% of the time by having a list of probing questions pertaining to the job responsibilities of the position, division and company goals, company culture, etc. Answer questions with a question. For example: If you are asked about a specific qualification, answer the question fully, then inquire as to how that fits what the company is looking for. Don’t be afraid to probe into the duties of the position. When a requirement is mentioned that fits one of your strengths, bring it out. An excellent question to ask is: “If you have two candidates with almost identical backgrounds what quality or qualities would make you choose one over the other?” Or, you might say: “If the perfect candidate was standing in front of you, reporting for work, could you describe that candidate?”

4. Energy, Drive, Initiative – Don’t ever compromise on this one. It is the universal trait of success. The key to personal success is to do more than you have to, so give the interviewer some examples of your initiative and personal successes and extra efforts.

5. Trend of Performance Over Time – Indicate the impact you have had with your current and previous employer's) over the past five to ten years. This would include: Major accomplishments and organizational changes that you have implemented. This is a good time to share what you can do for the interviewer’s company. HAVE A PLAN BEFORE THE INTERVIEW!

6. Experience, Education and Industry Background – Use this along with the Past Accomplishments category: Strong education and experience can sometimes offset a weaker accomplishments rating.

7. Problem Solving and Thinking Skills – Express that you have the ability to solve job-related problems and anticipate what needs to be done. (Elaborate)

8. Management and Organizations – (If going in for a management position). Let the interviewer know that you have the ability to persuade and motivate others. Team leadership is a component of both management and personality. Share management ability and style, and organizational skills.

9.Team Leadership – (If going in for a management position). The ability to persuade and motivate others. Explain how you motivate your immediate subordinates and people who work in different departments.

10. Character: Values, Commitment and Goals - Summarize your integrity, honesty, responsibility, openness, and fairness in dealing with others. Express your commitment to the organization, and have a plan as to what you can do for the Company. THIS TOPIC SHOULD BE SAVED FOR THE END OF THE INTERVIEW, OR WAIT FOR THE SECOND INTERVIEW.

11. Watch your body language. Maintain good posture, leaning slightly forward indicates interest. Maintain eye contact. Leaning back could give the impression of a lax attitude. The interviewer gives body language as well. You can determine if you are keeping the interviewer’s interest by reading his or her body language. This holds true to some extent for a telephone interview as well. Although you cannot see the interviewer, you can detect from voice inflections whether you have his or her attention. If the interviewer is on a speakerphone and you hear their voice fading in and out, it means that he or she is probably walking around the room and you may not have his/her full attention. If that happens, ask the interviewer to pick up the receiver as you are having difficulty hearing and don’t want to miss anything he or she says. At that point, you will again have the interviewer’s full attention.

12. On your pad, have a list of your strengths. Let the interviewer know why you are the perfect fit for the position. EXAMPLE: If interviewing for a supervisory position, one major weakness may be the tendency to “do everything yourself.” This is a very common problem that indicates a lack of willingness to delegate work. The best way to overcome this is to step back from your desk, look at the project you have for the day and determine which REALLY requires your personal attention. Anything that can be delegated should be given to subordinates who can then use them as a learning tool while your time is freed up to attend to the more urgent and sensitive issues. What you have done at this point is turn a negative into a positive.

One of the toughest interview questions that you can be asked is “Tell me about yourself.” Rather than guess where the interviewer wants you to begin, use this very simple response: “I’d be happy to. Where would you like me to begin?” Once you have the interviewers reply, you have a point of reference and can begin answering the question.

13. STAY POSITIVE! Even if you decide that you don’t feel the position is right for you, never communicate that during the interview. Once you get home, you may change your mind. After you have considered it, if you still feel the position is not a good fit for you, let us know and we can withdraw you gracefully, but keep the door open for future consideration.

14. VERY IMPORTANT! At the conclusion of the interview, state that you are very interested in pursuing this position, and then ask, “Where do we go from here?” or “What is the next step?” If you really think you hit a home run, ask: “When do I start?” What you are doing is asking for feedback on how well you did. Another excellent “closing” question would be: “Is there any reason that you could not offer me this position (job) today?”

15. Do not discuss salary or benefits. If asked about your current salary, advise what it is but indicate that you wouldn’t want to comment on the salary without knowing all about the opportunity. Just like you wouldn’t want to buy a car without knowing all about the options available, you wouldn’t want to commit too early on your “price”. You might say: “Compensation is extremely important to me, and I will consider your best offer, but frankly what is most important at this point is what I can offer your company and what the future will hold for both of us in a long term relationship.”

16. Have available a list of references that you can present if requested. These references should include names of former supervisors in previous jobs who would be willing to discuss in detail your work performance, usually for positions covering only the last five years. Be sure that you have checked your references thoroughly so that you can be assured that they will provide positive feedback to the inquirer. If you feel it may be necessary, have a friend call them to see what they will say about you. If desired, your recruiter can call your references and provide you with feedback on their responses.

17. Bring two to three additional original copies of your resume, each in presentation folders (the number of copies depends upon how many people you are going to see). This has the effect of setting your resume out above the others. In addition, bring a copy of your most recent performance review (if applicable) and a sample of any written material prepared by you in the course of performing your duties (again, if applicable). Take care to make sure that the write-up does not contain any proprietary information such as names of the customer or any other items that may lead to the customer’s identity.

18. Call your recruiter as soon as possible right after the interview to advise of how things went. We will then call our client for their feedback and advise you of their impression.

Remember: Preparation is Everything

As soon as you can, write down what happened in the interview. Note such things as what was discussed, who you met with, what strengths/weaknesses of yours were discussed, what positives/negatives about the company and position you perceived and anything else you see as being relevant. This will come in very handy if additional interviewing is required.

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You should now be prepared to Follow Up the interview.

 

Follow-up

Upon completing the interview, you will need to follow up. This will reconfirm your interest and qualifications for a position.

This is a very simple but very important part of the interview process. Send a personal but professional letter to each person that you interviewed with. Make each letter different because the people you send them to will compare them. This is a great opportunity to again express your interest in the position and the company. Include a brief interview summary. If you are interested in the job, tell them again. Also be sure to follow up with your recruiter immediately. He or she will need to know your perception of the interview before talking with the company.

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If the interview and follow up have gone well you need to prepare for an Offer.

      

The Offer

Hopefully everything went well and the company is ready to extend you an offer.

For the most part, it will have been determined by this point what an acceptable offer will be. Often times an offer is made over the telephone. If the offer does not include everything you need, do not react negatively. Let the company know that you would like some time to consider their offer. Some time does not mean a week. Let them know you will have an answer for them the following morning. It is at this point in the interview process where a recruiter becomes very effective. Let the recruiter know what additional needs you have. These needs can then be relayed to the company. If you are not using a recruiter let the company know what you need. There is usually room to maneuver an offer into an acceptable one.

If the offer is acceptable, don't play games. Accept it! From that point you will be able to formulate a plan to begin working with the company. One thing you do need to do is thank them. This may seem a bit overzealous, but it will serve you well to write thank you letters to the people who had a direct part in hiring you. This will not be forgotten later.

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Now that you have accepted an offer the hard part begins, which is Resignation from your current position.

 

Resignation

Resigning can be the most emotional and difficult part of making a career change. Through these preparation methods this task will be made easier.

Your goal in the resignation process is to keep it clean and simple. Write a very concise resignation letter to present to your immediate supervisor. You can view some sample resignation letters at the bottom of this page. When you go to resign do it at a slow time during the day. Do not resign in an antagonistic manner. Be clear as to what your intentions are. Use phrases such as "I have accepted a new position and will be starting there on (date)". Give your former employer the option of having you work out a two-week notice. If you are going to work for a competitor in the same market, your current employer may let you go immediately. A two-week notice is recommended, but keep in mind it is not required. This is a professional courtesy. If you feel that you would not be, or will be made to be uncomfortable for this time leave as soon as you feel satisfied that your services are no longer critical to operations. The idea behind a clean, concise resignation is to discourage any Counteroffers. A proper resignation also leaves a favorable last impression with your employer. (Whose reference may be helpful to you at a later point in your career.)

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Sample Resignation Letters

The following letters are simply templates that make your intentions to your current employer clear and discourage any Counteroffers.

 

Sample 1:

Date

Name
Title
Company Name
Address

Dear:

This letter and the decision it represents has not been an easy one. At this time another employment opportunity has presented itself that I must take advantage of. This in no way reflects how I feel about (Company Name) or its treatment towards me. Therefore at this time, I am submitting my resignation. My last day will be (Date). I will be happy to assist with any transition of responsibility that you feel is necessary.

Thank you for the opportunity to work with (Company Name). It has been a pleasure.

Sincerely,

 

Sample 2:

Date

Name
Title
Company Name
Address

Dear:

It is with regret that I am submitting my resignation effective (Date). My affiliation with (Company Name) has been a fulfilling and rewarding experience. However, I have accepted a job opportunity that will allow me to accelerate my professional growth and realize my career goals. It is in my and my family's best interest to pursue this opportunity.

Again, I thank (Company Name) for a rewarding professional experience.

Sincerely,   

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Counteroffers

Consider the following before you decide to accept your employers' counter-offer:

Your employer offers an increase in salary to counter an offer made by a competing firm. Many employees will entertain, and a few will accept the (counter) offer. Those that accept a counter-offer often do so because they will not have to address the emotions of leaving their "comfort zone" (current employer), and entering into the unknown of joining a new company. But, what are the dangers of accepting a counter-offer?

1. In the mind of your manager (employer), it is never a good time for you to resign. "I'm short-handed, I'll miss my vacation, it affects the morale of the (my) department, this makes me look bad to my boss", etc. Your manager (employer) needs to buy time to find your replacement.

2. Why did you have to resign in order to get a raise? If you are worth the counter-offer dollars now, why didn't you receive an increase in pay before now? Did you have to blackmail your manager into getting a raise?

3. Your annual review is coming up in a few months. Are you just getting an increase in your pay early?

4. In your manager's (employer's) mind, you are no longer a loyal employee. No longer within that "inner circle" as a trusted employee. Often, as soon as your manager (employer) finds a replacement for you, adios! Or, perhaps you may be passed up for the next promotion.

Statistics show that if you accept a counter offer, the probability of voluntarily leaving in six months or of being let go within one year is extremely high. Statistics compiled by the National Employment Association, confirm that over 80% of those who accept a counter-offer are no longer with the same company six months later.

Accepting a counter-offer can influence the decision of a future employer from making you an offer to join their company. In effect you may have "blackballed" yourself.

Remember the reasons you had for making a career change. Sure, part of it may be compensation. However, there were probably other motivating factors such as, upward mobility, challenge, geographic location, and so on.

Once you have made the decision to make a change in your career path, make a plan, follow your plan, and stick to it. Don't allow yourself to be "futured" into staying with your current employer. It is not worth the risk.

INTERVIEW TIPS

Dress for the Interview

Always dress according to the occasion & going for an interview demands Formal Dressing. Make sure you are wearing tidy clothes. Dressing Conservatively helps.

Be there on Time

For a any interview always keep a few minutes spare & reach well before time. Try and use the washroom & freshen yourself up before walking in the room.

Entering

Always seek permission of the interviewer while entering the room. Make a firm hand shake and wish the interviewer. Radiate your confidence with smile. Be prompt while answering the questions with aplomb.

Body Language
Take the sit thanking the interviewer. Sit erect & alert. Maintain soft eye contact with the interviewer. Speak with confidence and assurance. Be enthusiastic and responsive.

Be precise & upfront

While answering questions, be precise. Hit the nail on the head. In minimum words, let the interviewer know that you know what he is asking . Avoid lengthy argument or discussion. If you do not know a particular thing, best be upfront. Beating about the bush with a good interviewer will get you nowhere.

Show your interest

Give due respect to the interviewer & constantly keep yourself alert & interested. Do not smoke or chew gum during interviews. Do not slouch in the chair, tap your feet, play with eyeglasses, pencil, or fidget nervously.

First things first & Last things Last

While asking questions, do not ask direct questions about salary or other benefits at the beginning of the interview. Rather ask questions on Job profile, responsibilities, growth prospects initially.

Do your homework before the interview

 Learn about the company as much as you can. Visit their site, see the products, name of founder etc& then relate to the job requirement.

Don't forget the basics

Prepare and rehearse common questions and answers. For example - Tell us something about yourself? What was the nature of your job? What can you do for this company? Three reasons, why should we be hiring you? What special skills did you acquire? What where your Targets? What did you achieve? What was your day was like on your job? What were your strengths? Weaknesses? Why are you considering leaving your present job? Why are you interested in this company and how can you contribute? AND lastly but not the least Industry References. Have the names & contact numbers handy.

Talk about your achievements

If you have done better than others, worked hard, make it count. Highlight your achievements. If interested, show it.

If you are keen for the job, let the interviewer know that you are keen for the job. That way he will surely give you a priority & over others who he is not sure of.

Always keep your option open

Even if you feel not interested in the job, do not tell it to the interviewer. Be courteous. It will only help you. You can thank him & tell him that you will need to sleep over it & will revert soon. Who knows you may actually change you mind the next day.

Say THANKS

While concluding the interview, thank the interviewer for the time and consideration given you. Ask when you should meet again to discuss the position further. It often takes several interviews to obtain the job offer. Ask for a business card and give yours in return.

Don’t show Desperation
Never show your desperation for the job. You may lose the job & even if you get it, you will definitely lose your negotiating power. Besides the company is looking for achievers & not beggars.  

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