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How to Conduct an Effective Job Interview

By Jeff Wuorio
Orginally published November 05, 2012
Business on Main


Don’t bore yourself and candidates with a generic interview. Learn how to ask thoughtful questions that help you hire the best possible employees for your business.

Everyone looking for work prepares extensively for a job interview.

As a small-business owner looking to hire a new employee, your homework should be every bit as thorough and thoughtful — particularly with regard to the interview questions you ask.

The cost of a poor hire is both emotional and financial. Not only do you have the unpleasant task of letting someone go, there’s the expense of recruiting, advertising and other costs.

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Smart Job Seekers Do This…

How to Get Hired for Any Job

Let’s face it — Getting hired for a job is not easy.

Some people seem to be better at it than others. So what are some of the key characteristics that make up the elite group of successful job candidates?

What are they doing that makes employers want to hire them?

1. They show relevance
They clearly demonstrate to interviewers how their background and career goals are consistent with the requirements for the job. When your background and experience matches the job description, that makes it all the easier for employers to want to hire you.

Make it easy for them — connect the dots and show them why you are the right person for the job.

2. They show consistency
All of their recent work experience is consistent with the requirements for the job. Their resume is consistent with the job description. When employers talk to them, their conversation is consistent with their resume.

The Resume Masterpiece shows you exactly how to write your resume so it’s consistent with the job description.

When employers search them out on LinkedIn, their profile is consistent with their resume. In short, their whole career profile, both off-line and on-line is consistent and comes around full-circle and your resume is a very crucial element in this circle.

There are no dead ends — they know exactly what they want, and thus are more likely to get what they want.

3. They practice how they’ll answer interview questions
You can’t walk into an interview cold. You have to practice how you’ll answer common interview questions, like: why do you want to work here, tell me about yourself, how does your background fit in with our department, etc.

4. They are always planning their next move
Successful candidates are always thinking ahead. They are planning out what they will say and do based on how their interview goes. If the employer says, “we’ll get back to you,” they’ll say, “when can I expect to hear from you?” or “do you mind if I follow-up with you in two weeks?”

It doesn’t end there – they know exactly how to drill-down into employers to poke and prod them for useful information that will aid them in navigating their candidacy towards a job offer.

This is a complicated strategy, no doubt about it, and having a strategic job coach guide you through this maze can make all the difference in developing a sound strategy that is certain to close the gap on landing your dream job.

Following-up – never take silence as a sign of disinterest

One of my coaching students just asked me about following-up after his interview.

He said he had an interview last week with a two person panel and followed up with a separate thank you email to both of them.

Several days go by and he doesn’t receive a response from either person, but during the interview, they mentioned holding second interviews later in the week.

129 Sample Questions and Answers You Can Use to Get Hired for Any Job

He was concerned that by not hearing back, that this was their way of saying they had no interest in him.

My response to him: “Never take silence as a sign an employer is not interested in you.”

When you don’t hear back from an employer, pick up the phone and call them. Email is easier, but it’s both cheap and easy.

Picking up the phone and calling takes more effort and conveys your intentions on a completely different level.

How to Write a Resume that Gets Employers Excited!

Anyone can send email, but calling says that you really want to work there and you are very interested.

So my advice to you is to NOT sit and wait, but to be proactive and reach out to them when they appear silent to you.

101 Examples of the Best Job Interview Thank You Letters

How to use one job offer to get two offers

One of my coaching students just received two job offers!

But the offer he really wanted didn’t come in yet.

My student doesn’t want to pass on the two active job offers because he’d rather have a job, than no job at all.

But he really wants to work for the other company.

Best Way to Answer Behavioral and STAR Questions

This sort of scenario happens all the time. And in cases like this, you can use your active job offers as leverage to try and force the other company to give you an offer.

The technique works well, but you still need to play it with caution so you don’t anger or insult the people at the company where you really want to be.

Here’s what I told my student:

“Play it wisely. If you really have another offer on the table and you want to use that as leverage to make the other employer move faster, then call them up and explain your dilemma.

How to Write a Resume that Gets Employers Excited!

Tell them you have another offer on the table, but you would rather work for them because….[blank]. You need to fill in the blank with your reasons for why you want to work there verses somewhere else.

Here are three possible responses you could get from them:

1. Okay, thank you for letting us know and we’ll consider that.
2. We’re very pleased with what we have seen from you and we’d like to extend an offer to you.
3. We’re not ready to move yet, so you might want to consider the other offer.
If the latter, now you are in a tricky spot. If you really have another offer then take it, but if not, now you have nothing and you can’t move forward with the job you want when they are ready to make a hiring decision.”

This technique is a great way to get employers to budge who are slow to make you an offer. Just consider all angles before you do anything because one wrong move could cost you a job opportunity.

3 Things You Should Never Say In A Job Interview - Check Them Out!

When to write a thank you letter

By now, you already know that you should be sending out a thank you letter after your job interviews, right?

But have you considered writing your thank you letter ahead of time?

…like before your interview?

Usually, you can get most of your letter written before your interview.

Then after your interview is over, you simply make a few tweaks to your letter so it’s relevant to your interview and then it’s ready to be sent.

This strategy works best if you are emailing your letter.

Best interview follow-up tactics

One of the most common questions I get asked is about following up… and this one just came in yesterday from Andrew.

He asked…

“How do I send a thank you letter when I don’t have the interviewers contact information?”

Well the truth of the matter is, you can’t. You need their email address.

But let’s backup a bit.

The best time to ask for this information is at the close of your first interview, whether that be a phone interview or face to face.

You always want to close your interview by asking them, “Do you mind if I follow-up with you in (x) amount of days?

They will certainly tell you “YES” and then at that point, ask them for their email address.

Now you have their permission to follow-up, in fact they will be expecting your follow-up.

Then when you get home from the interview, you can send them a thank you letter without searching all over the Internet for their email address.

Make sense?

You can also ask for this information when they first contact you for an interview, that way you’ll have it ahead of time.

Now all you have to do is craft a nifty thank you letter that shows them how much you care about this job and how you are looking forward to hearing from them real soon.

I have over a hundred different thank you letters in my latest book called Perfect Thank You Letters.

3 Best Tips for Job Interview Success

1.) Quantify your results when speaking of accomplishments: By quantifying your results and saying exactly what you will do when they give you the job, you are clearly separating yourself from your competition and connecting with prospective employers by telling them exactly what they want to hear.

For example, if a candidate said: “If I’m chosen for this position, my goal will be to meet and exceed the position requirements; and if that leads to more opportunities down the road, I think that would be great for all of us!”

But that is a weak statement.

129 Sample Questions and Answers You Can Use to Get Hired for Any Job

Instead you want to say what you will to and how you will do it and use numbers to quantify your results

Best of all, your forward thinking shows you have a plan for this job.

2.) “Never take silence as a sign an employer is not interested in you.”

When you don’t hear back from an employer, pick up the phone and call them. Email is easier, but it’s both cheap and easy.

Picking up the phone and calling takes more effort and conveys your intensions on a completely different level.

Anyone can send email, but calling says that you really want to work there and you are very interested.

So my advice to you is to NOT sit and wait, but to be proactive and reach out to them when they appear silent to you.

How to Write a Resume that Gets Employers Excited!

3.) Enthusiasm:

If you’ve taken the time to demonstrate your worth and to do homework on the company, you’re probably in good shape.

So how do you demonstrate enthusiasm?

It’s hard to teach enthusiasm and you can’t fake it. It’s your own level of interest in the company, how excited you are to be there, the expressions on your face, the tone of your voice, your attentiveness – it’s all those things and more all rolled into one.

But I think the root of enthusiasm is the confidence you have in yourself. When you are confident in yourself and what you are doing, enthusiasm shines through.

3 Things You Should Never Say In A Job Interview - Check Them Out!

The ultimate test of your presentation skills

How to do a whiteboard job interview if you are an IT professional.

A white board is most likely going to be twofold:

1.) a test of your presentation skills and

2.) a test of technical knowledge.

This whiteboard session will give them an in-depth look at your thought process. It will also be a demonstration of how you teach. (very important) even if you are weaker on technical skills, but strong on presentation, you will score lots of style points because technical skills can be taught, but teaching presentation skills is tougher.

129 Sample Questions and Answers You Can Use to Get Hired for Any Job

A couple of things to keep in mind. While you are at the whiteboard, make sure whenever you speak, that you don’t look at the whiteboard, but turn around and face your audience and this will demonstrate your presentation skills. Plus, they will not hear you otherwise.

Since this is a measure of your thought process, make sure you walk them through and verbalize everything you are doing while speaking clearly, confidently and looking directly at them. Pretend you are teaching them, like a school teacher. Forget that they know anything. Teach them like you would if you were mentoring junior network administrators.

All of the above will demonstrate your presentations skills.

Next, focus on technical your knowledge.  They might ask you to diagram a simple network on a class C network, or they might ask how you would diagram a network that has 500 users and how would you provide ip addresses to all of them.

They might want to see how you would design a server backbone on a switched network with network load balancing. There are just too many technical scenarios to cover, so I think you would do best to allow your presentation skills to pull you through any technical scenario. Hopefully, they will give you a few minutes to collect your thoughts and then ask you to present them on a whiteboard.

How to Write a Resume that Gets Employers Excited!

Don’t get frustrated. A whiteboard is a place to make mistakes, so it’s okay to erase and redraw. The way I like to create networks is to first create the large picture. A framework so to speak, then I go in and fill in all the details. It’s much easier that way.

Talk about everything you did to ensure a successful migration and let them know you followed Microsoft Exchange best practices and state what those were.

But don’t forget your presentation skills are a big part of this test and how well you explain things.

3 Things You Should Never Say In A Job Interview - Check Them Out!

How to stand-out in a job interview

What can you do for us that no one else can?
This is a pretty open ended question and may or may not get asked directly, but some variation of it may come up. There is no right or wrong answer. The interviewer wants to see what you believe are your best strengths and that you can differentiate yourself from everyone else. If you trip up on this question, it does not mean the end of the interview, but if you trip up on a few of these types of questions, you can probably expect that you won’t go any further in the interview process.

Best Way to Answer Behavioral and STAR Questions

This is a time to talk about your job skills, training, and project experiences that make you better than everyone else. Describe your role and how you have contributed to the company and projects on past jobs.

Don’t give a straight out answer, but now is a good time to brag about yourself and your abilities. Make sure you mention that you have the skills, training, and experience that are required for the job and describe how they will benefit the company by having you instead of anyone else. Differentiate yourself.

Best answer:

1. “I am a well rounded individual with a very unique blend of skills. Past training and job experiences have allowed me to take on and complete projects and assignments of high importance and increasing difficulty while on time and under budget. And now, I want to be part of your team and solving problems for you.”

How to Write a Resume that Gets Employers Excited!

2. “I believe that my unique blend of experience, problem solving skills and people skills differentiates me from most other candidates. I am motivated, disciplined and focused and am willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.”

3. “I have a great deal of experience in working with database products. In my past jobs, I have rebuilt databases to make them faster and more efficient, and as a result of my efforts, our sales department was able to run their daily and weekly reports 52% faster than they were before thus saving them a great deal of time that could be better utilized making more sales than waiting for reports to run.”

4. “In my last job, I helped increase third quarter sales by 30% and this increase was a direct result of my ability to work with our customers to find out what they need that we as a company were not providing to them.”

101 Examples of the Best Job Interview Thank You Letters

Likely HR questions you will face on your next interview

possible HR human resource questionsJob interviews can be a stressful process and you need to be prepared for anything an interviewer throws at you.

Ace Your Job Interview With This Little Trick

You’re calm and relaxed, mentally ready for a challenge, and even looking forward to the chance to shine.

Use each interview as a learning experience and don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t go the way you had hoped.

On this page, you’ll find HR Interview Questions to help you get prepared.

Depending on the company, you will either interview with a person from HR or the manager you would be working under. It’s good to know this beforehand because HR interview questions are generally much different than with a hiring manager.

Hiring manager questions tend to be more geared towards your experience, while HR interview questions tend to be more general in nature.

How to Write a Resume that Gets Employers Excited!

Here is a list of questions you can generally expect to be asked by someone interviewing you from a company’s HR department.

1. Why do you want to leave your job?
There is no right answer to this question, only wrong ones. You don’t need to make book out of this answer, just something short and positive is best. After all, it really does not matter to the interviewer, as long as you don’t say something foolish.

The point here is to convey to the interviewer that you are not leaving because you are mad, tired, bored, overworked, underpaid, or job hopping, just that you are leaving your job on because.

“I do enjoy working at my current job. The culture and the people make it a great place to work. But I’m looking for more responsibility with new and fresh challenges. I have worked on and successfully completed several projects, from start to finish during the past two years. Currently, advancement opportunities are scarce at my current job.

101 Examples of the Best Job Interview Thank You Letters

I don’t mind a slow down in pace from time to time, but it’s important to me to keep my career continually moving in a forward direction that is consistent with my career goals.”

2. Tell me about yourself?
What do you want the interviewer to know about you when you leave, your work experience or your personal interests? I’m confident their hiring decision will be based on your work experience, save your personal interests for the water cooler after you get the job.

Briefly talk about your current employer.

Discuss 2-3 of your most significant accomplishments.

Talk about a few of your key strengths as they relate to the job for which you are applying and how they can benefit from your strengths.

Then discuss how you see yourself fitting into a position at their company.

3. How do accept criticism?
This is a team player question and is asked to see how open and willing you are to being asked or told what to do. Are you someone who can follow directions? Can you accept criticism? Or, are you the type of person who does not like being told what to do or being criticized?

129 Sample Questions and Answers You Can Use to Get Hired for Any Job

“I openly accept criticism without taking any offense and politely thank the person for their comments.”

4. What are some of the things that bother you?
This is a common question, but don’t dwell on it. The interviewer is looking for a job related answer, more like “what bothers you about your job or the people you work with?” If you dig deep and think of what really bothers you, you’ll find that it’s other people and their ideas, right? But don’t tell the interviewer that, you can be more clever than that.

“It bothers me the most when other people I work with don’t meet their deadlines or deliver what they promise.”

5. Do you prefer working with others or alone?
Basically, the interviewer is asking if you are a team player. If your answer is with others, then the interviewer will think you can’t work alone and if you answer alone, then the interviewer may think you have some personality issues working with other people.

Ace Your Job Interview With This Little Trick

Your response needs to show that you can work well in a team atmosphere and still shoulder individual responsibility, as well. Before you answer, make sure you know if the job requires you to work alone or not.

“I enjoy working alone when necessary as I don’t need to be constantly reassured of my work. But I would prefer to work in a group as I believe much more work can be accomplished when everyone is pulling together.”

6. How do you get along with different types of people?
The workplace is loaded with a variety of different people with varying personalities and the interviewer wants to know how you think you will fit in.

When answering interview questions with HR, you want to show your interviewer that it does not matter what kind of people you work with – just that work gets done. This shows the interviewer that you are more concerned with outcomes than personalities.

Best answer: 1. “I work well with anyone who delivers what they promise.”

What are some of the things that you and your supervisor have disagreed about?
Though it may sound like it, this is not a time to bad mouth your supervisor. Let’s take what is expected to be a negative answer and turn it around.

How to Write a Resume that Gets Employers Excited!

“Shifting priorities is usually the main reason for any type of disagreement. I may be working on a project that has a tight deadline and my supervisor may pull me from that project to work on something else. It can be frustrating to stop working on a project after I have built up a great deal of momentum only and to switch gears on the fly and start on something completely different.”

7. Would your boss describe you as a go-getter?
Share with the interviewer an example of a project that you worked on, perhaps you had to put in long hours and time on the weekend to meet a deadline and that in the end you completed the project or task on time and under budget and made your department or company look good.

“Yes; absolutely. It is not uncommon for my boss to tell me that I am one of the most reliable employees he has. He even makes such remarks on my evaluations. I believe he thinks so because I am dependable and I just get things done without having to be supervised and in the end it just makes him look good.”

3 Things You Should Never Say In A Job Interview - Check Them Out!

8. Why did you choose this particular career path or what led to your chosen profession?
When answering HR interview questions like this, you need to be specific and tell the interviewer what inspired you to take this career path while keeping your answer short and to the point. If you can, try to direct your answer so that it shows a logical progression between your profession and the company you are interviewing with.

You really want to convince the interviewer that you are the right person for the job and that your education, dreams, and career goals match your profession. Describe your thought process.

Don’t say that you majored in English because you thought it would be easy. Be specific and justify your answer. I chose .. because .. “I chose architecture because I have always admired beautiful buildings” or “As a child I was truly inspired by a certain TV show doctor which ultimately led me to pursue a career in medicine.”

129 Sample Questions and Answers You Can Use to Get Hired for Any Job

“I chose medical school because I have always enjoyed helping other people.”

You have just read a small fraction of what is inside the Complete Interview Answer Guide. Each of these questions is answered in extreme detail in my guide and there are many more questions and multiple answers to each question in this guide.

129 Sample Questions and Answers You Can Use to Get Hired for Any Job