Interview Tips

Interview Preparation Overview

IMPORTANT QUESTIONS TO BE PREPARED FOR:

  • Tell me a little about yourself.

(Refer to your list of strengths)

  • Why are you looking to leave your current position/company?

(explain why you are looking but also why you want this role)

  • Why do you want to work for our company?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?

(I try to be too perfect, or I cant say no to people, or I need to prioritize better, are standard answers – show specific examples on how you are improving any weakness)

  • How can you relate your present position to this one?
  • What do you expect to gain from this position?
  • What salary are you looking for?
  • Where do you hope to be professionally in five years?
  • Give an example of a difficult situation/boss/client/coworker/project and how did you resolved
  • Give an example of where you implemented an idea
  • What kind of boss do you work well with?
  • Give an example of a time when you had to be quick in making a decision.
  • Give an example of a time when you had to explain complex financial data to a person with limited financial knowledge and how you handled the situation.
  • Tell me about a systematic or repeated error you encountered, whether a report, analysis, or forecast, and how you were able to resolve the problem.
  • Tell me about a situation in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or co-worker.
  • Give me an example of when you had to show good leadership.

IMPORTANT QUESTIONS TO ASK:

  • Tell me about the company – what changes are planned for the future?
  • Ask appropriate questions to find out about the role/dept/customers/clients/company
  • Why is position open?
  • Who will I be reporting to? What is that person’s background?
  • Who are others I will be working with?
  • What is your and/or the supervisor’s management style?
  • If/when I do a good job in this position and prove myself and have more time to take on other duties then what additional contribution can I make in the future?
  • Don’t ask any salary/benefit/ or work hours questions during initial interview. You will have an opportunity to ask and/or hear what they can do for you after you first demonstrate what you can do for them.
  • Do not run out of questions – Very important. If you meet several people there is good chance that first few will answer all your questions.  The last person may be the most important, and he/she does not want to hear that you do not have any questions.  Just continue to ask the same questions that you already asked the others.

HOW TO END AN INTERVIEW

Very important to end interview on right note. Remember 4 letters-T I Q W

  • T Thank you for taking time to meet with me.

 I          I am very interested in this opportunity – this is the opportunity I have been looking for.  This would be a great career move for me.

Q         I am qualified for this position, based on my education and experience, and I am confident I can make a strong contribution.

W        What is the next step? I would like to take this to the next step, what do I need to do?  Would you like to check my references?

When employer is wrapping up interview you need to make this speech.  You will only be asked back for 2nd interview and/or made an offer if they are confident that you are interested and enthusiastic about the role, people, and company.  Same points should also be covered in a follow up email 1-2 days after interview – this is their first chance to see your work and better to write no follow up then a poorly written follow up.  Don’t use iffy words like “I think, feel, or believe”, but say “I am confident, or I expect”.  Short and simple is best, and make sure you proofread and not to rely on spellcheck.  Feel free to email a draft to your recruiter, as this has helped A LOT with past candidates.

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SALARY AND OFFERS

Some employers will use the recruiter to act as a salary liaison between candidate and employer, while others will prefer to talk salary directly with candidates. We most always pre-close both sides on a general range before setting up the interview, and normally there are no huge surprises once the candidate gets to the offer stage, but there normally are issues to be dealt with and most great employment matches start off with some anxiety about making the change.

Normally we know if an employer will talk salary directly, but sometimes we do not, and always best to be prepared.  Employers who talk directly with candidates use this as not only to discuss the offer, but also to learn about a candidate’s genuine interest in the role, their negotiation skills, and communication/personal skills and ability to be “diplomatically direct”.   

If asked about your salary requirements, normally best to say “I am very interested in this opportunity and am open to your best offer.”  They will likely want more info, and then say “ I am currently making __, with an expected bonus of____, with a raise due __, and I am looking for a competitive increase, and I will consider the total package and long term opportunity.” If they still want more info then use phrase “I am shooting for/hoping for ___”(give a range, like mid 50’s, or mid to upper 50’s). Don’t give any specific salary requirements or numbers – normally 8-12% above your current package is a realistic request, but this depends on specific situation. Back up any salary expectation with a quick overview of your experience and education and contribution you expect to make. Some will end conversation here and get back to you/us later.

If employer proceeds to ask “what would you think about $xx?” and it is clearly too low, then restate your qualifications/education/expected contribution, and say “I was hoping for more, and is there any room for improvement? You can say this even if initial number is acceptable, depending on how brave/confident you are.  Say/show that salary is not your #1 priority in making this move, but that it is high on the list, and you need to be fair to yourself and family.  Is best to already know if you would accept the position for a specific amount, as otherwise negotiating is a waste of time. Be very friendly and diplomatic in your style.  It is normally best to not justify your expectation with salary data/surveys or what your friends/coworkers were offered, as each situation is unique and employer is focused on only your situation. If you have pre closed yourself on this opportunity then can help to say “I would accept right now for $xx”, as employer is much more likely to increase an offer if they know you are committing yourself and not just shopping offers and/or will take long time to think about it.  Most employers will allow a few days/weekend to think about an offer, but likely have a backup candidate so they may not want to risk waiting too long.  Most employers will extend a written offer about a day after extending a verbal offer.

If asked about start date tell them “upon 2 weeks notice” or ASAP if possible.  Employers tend to be flexible on start date to allow the candidate to make a smooth transition. Normal issue with most job moves is a pre planned vacation, so if you have plans during next few months then best to mention this, and normally is not a problem.

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