View Full Version : Interview Tips

19-08-2008, 04:12 AM
I went on to Aerotek's website and found these tips. They actually found me my current job. :)

Tips for Technical Interviews: Beyond the Xs and Os

This quick guide provides you with two tips to help you appeal to these managers by weaving business topics into your technical discussions during a technical interview.

(1) Understand (and be interested in) their business

Many interviewers are seeking technical candidates with a seemingly genuine curiosity about their company, their products and services, and their plans for the future. Knowing this, research the organization before your technical interview and know at least the following:

* The industry or industries in which the organization operates
* The main product / service lines
* When the company was founded and by whom
* The firm's primary competitors
* The overall size and health of the firm, including revenues, growth and size
* Any major industry news or trends

Armed with this information, accent your interview responses with tidbits about the organization; doing so can really set your answers apart from the typical technical candidates.

(2) Ask questions about how their business decisions impact (and are impacted by) technology decisions

It naturally follows that if you are genuinely interested in a job, a company and an industry, you are going to want to know more about each of them. The best way to express these interests is to enthusiastically ask thoughtful questions whenever appropriate during your technical interview.

It can be difficult to segue from technology discussions to broader business discussions, and you certainly don't want to veer off course or appear evasive- it is, after all, a technical interview. You can, however, skillfully craft questions and responses that exhibit your curiosity about the position and the business, show that you've been paying attention during the interview, and show your technical talents.

And nothing demonstrates your eagerness and inquisitiveness like well-crafted follow-up questions.

Here are some sample questions that firmly illustrate your curiosity while relating directly to the technical interview dialogue:

* You mentioned that your company is acquiring another organization this fall and integrating their HRIS into yours. How will this initiative affect the launch of the applicant tracking system on which I'd be working?

* You mentioned your upcoming product launch and its potential impact on your web severs. What was your last major product launch, and did you see a significant affect on system volume then? Did the systems perform well?

Eight Telephone Interview Tips

* Avoid distractions. If you are currently employed, try to arrange your telephone interviews for the early evening or at a time when you may speak openly and freely. When interviewing from home, be sure to be in a quiet place free from background noise and interruptions. Be sure to disable call waiting and turn off any other telephones or pagers.

* Use a landline. The sound quality is far better on a landline, especially a corded landline, and clarity is vital to communication during telephone interviews. In addition, cell phone signals may drop causing an annoying interruption to the conservation.

* Prepare notes! The single biggest advantage a candidate has during a telephone interview is the ability to rely more heavily on notes compared to an in-person interview. Prepare notes for questions you anticipate being asked, as well as for questions you plan on asking. Do not write complete sentences; the interviewer will know you are reading them. Instead, jot down keywords that will jog your memory.

* Speak slowly and lively. A frequent side-effect of nervousness is rapid speech. Deliberately moderate the pace of your words and speak markedly louder than you would normally, with the telephone handset at least two inches away from your mouth. Always pause after each thought or idea to give the interviewer an opportunity to respond. Also remember that the interviewer is probably taking notes on your responses so give him/her a chance to record your answers!

* Address the interviewer(s) by name. One of the drawbacks inherent in conducting any business over the telephone is the overall impersonality of the medium. One of the best ways to overcome this hurdle is to recognize and address any and all voices on the other end of the line by name. If you?re ever unsure who is speaking to you, it is always okay to ask; they will appreciate that you care enough to know who is addressing you.

* Exaggerate your vocal patterns. Non-verbal signals are an important part of overall communication and you will be without them during a telephone interview; you need to compensate by making your intentions crystal clear using your voice. If you have a question, for example, the interviewer will not be able to see your facial expressions, hand gestures or expressive movements. The only method you can employ to make it clear that certain words or phrases are inquisitive is to exaggerate the rising intonation of your voice.

* Do Your Homework. Too often job seekers fail to properly prepare for telephone interviews because they feel as if they can 'wing' certain common questions. In fact, answers that lack detail or depth may come across as more hollow on the phone than they might in-person despite the confidence of the job seeker! A good rule of thumb- spend at least 3X more time preparing for an interview than the interview itself is scheduled to take.

* Finish strongly. Your parting words will linger with the interviewer more than your opening words will, so choice them wisely. If you have remained interested in the job opportunity as the telephone interview winds down, be certain to ask what the next steps in the hiring process are. You may even ask when you can meet in-person with the interviewer and suggest a date and time. Never hang up without thanking each person with which you spoke; thank them for their time and reiterate your interest in the position.

Dressing for an Interview?
What a Man Should Know

Interviews aren't the time or place for fashion trail blazing. Deviating from the long-established attire standards may prove deadly. Follow these simple tips, and leave your sense of fashion adventure in the lobby.

The Suit
Colors: Interview suits should be navy blue or charcoal gray. Some brown suits are acceptable depending on the pattern and the shade (and, of course, the environment of the interview), but should generally be avoided; they aren't worth the risk. Earth-toned colors, like tan, light gray or olive green, aren't formal enough and shouldn't be worn no matter how expensive or trendy they might be. Black suits are plenty formal, but may be inappropriately flashy. You have always two safe choices: navy blue or charcoal gray.

Pin Stripes: Pin stripes are permissible, but only if they are subtle. VERY subtle. They add a touch of flair and can liven up a gray suit nicely.

Style: As with color, you aren't given a lot of latitude here. You should wear a two or three buttoned, two-piece suit. Four buttoned suits may be seen as too trendy, and three-piece suits may be viewed as out of style or, worse yet, ostentatious.

Fit: Suit jackets should fit so that they can be easily buttoned without any significant tug marks across the fabric. The arms should be long enough so that about a half an inch of your dress shirt can be seen beyond the cuffs when your arms are relaxed by your side. If you have a "normal build" (a typical shoulders-to-waist ratio), then your ideal suit size is your chest size. If you have a "distinctive build," then you'll definitely want to get measured by a tailor.

The Shirt and Tie Color and Collar: White shirts are the safest and most conservative. Cream, almond and pale-blue shirts are also acceptable as long as they are solid without any stripes or patterns. Point collars are recommended for an interview, but spread collars are fine as well. Avoid cotton-blend shirts, polyester shirts, or any shirts with a shiny finish such as rayon. Shirts should be 100% cotton.

Tie Color and Size: Wear a tie between 2-3 inches wide. It should feature a traditional pattern and be made of pure silk. Don't wear trendy ties or ties made of anything besides 100% silk. Your tie should reach, but not exceed, the top of your belt buckle. (At some point, in the late 90s, some college men got the idea that ties should reach the crotch of their pants, far exceeding their belts. This is not an accepted, professional practice.) And please, do not wear a bow-tie to an interview. Ever.

The Knot: Windsor knots are generally preferred at job interviews as they are arguably the most conservative. Four-in-hand knots are fine as well. Knots should be neat and fit within the space created by your choice of collar. If you insist on wearing an alternative knot style, such as a Shelby, you'll want to choose a white dress shirt with a spread collar that will accommodate it. Lettered tie-tacks are fine, but avoid any religious or political insignias.

The Shoes and Belt
Shoe Color and Style: Interviewees should wear black, oxblood or brown leather shoes. Black shoes are strongly recommended as they match almost with any suit, and are easy to coordinate with a belt. Rubber soles are acceptable if they are low profile (that is without noticeable treads). Loafers are forbidden.

Belt: Your belt must always match your shoe color. Large or flashy belt-buckles aren't permissible, but suspenders are, provided that they fit properly.

Socks: Socks should be dark and complement your suit. They should be long enough, at least mid-calf length, so that no one can see your leg when you are seated.

Jewelry: Only wedding rings are universally permissible for men. It's recommended that you remove all other jewelry, including earrings, for an interview. College rings are typically acceptable for younger interviewees. Cufflinks, provided that they are small and conservative, are fine.

Briefcases: A small leather briefcase or portfolio is recommended to carry your notebook and resume. Do not bring a large briefcase or everyday bag with you.

Cologne: Be careful! Remember that you'll probably be interviewing in a small, stuffy conference room. Use little cologne, or none at all.

Hair: Hair should be clean and well kept. Shorter hair is generally considered to be favorable. Facial hair is discouraged, although well-groomed mustaches are usually acceptable.

Dressing for an Interview?
What a Woman Should Know
By Diane Zappas of The Torrenzano Group
Don't try to distinguish yourself by way of your attire; that's more likely to be harmful or distracting than helpful. Stand out by polishing your interviewing techniques, brushing up on corporate and industry knowledge, and by arriving punctually, well-rested and well-groomed. It's important that you never let your clothes, for better or for worse, upstage your performance.

Skirt or pantsuit?
Skirts are traditionally preferable to pantsuits as they are more formal.

The Suit and Blouse Suit Color: Women should choose a dark suit in black, navy blue, or gray for a job interview. Avoid patterned suits other than those with subtle stripes. Ideally you'll want to own at least two interview suits of varying colors. You can, however, simulate a second suit by simply using different blouses underneath the same one.

Blouse: While white or ivory are always safe bets, any light tone that matches your suit is appropriate. The fabric should always be natural?either silk or cotton.

Style: Skirts are traditionally preferable to pantsuits as they are more formal, but in all the most conservative of environments either are acceptable. Your suit should be comfortable, but not casual or sporty in appearance. The climate may factor into your decision; a skirt is preferable in wet weather since pants may get damp, but wrap-around skirts can be tragic on windy days.

Fit: Avoid tight-fitting suits! Suit jackets should fit so that they can be easily buttoned without any noticeable pull marks across the fabric. Skirts should at least reach your knees.

Accessories - The Shoes, Purse and Belt

Shoe Color and Style: Interviewees should wear dark, polished, closed-toe leather pumps that match the interview suit or are one shade darker than it. The heel should be one to two inches high, according to your height. Try not to wear a brand new pair of shoes since walking may be awkward or uncomfortable at first. If necessary, break new shoes in at home before your interview.

Belt: If you are wearing a belt, choose a small, conservative, solid-colored leather style belt with a simple buckle. It should match your shoes and purse.

Purse: Your purse should be small and plain, matching your the shoes and belt. Avoid using an everyday purse for an interview, especially if it is filled with belongings. If you are carrying a cell phone or pager in your purse, turn it off before you begin your interview!

Finishing Touches
Make-up and Nails: If you wear make-up, be sure to use light shades for an interview. Apply it in a bright room to simulate the lighting conditions in most offices. Nail polish should also be of a light shade or clear. Of course, make sure your nails are properly manicured and are clean.

Stockings: Wear plain stockings that best match your skin tone. Keep a spare pair tucked away in your purse for emergencies.

Jewelry: Jewelry should be kept to a minimum. If you wear earrings, plain studs are the most cautious. A single necklace is acceptable, as is a watch and a ring or two. You may wish to add a pin to your suit jacket to add color and pizzazz, but be sure to shy away from any controversial insignias.

Perfume: Use only a little perfume, or none at all. People can be allergic to certain perfume scents, plus you'll probably be seated in a confined space.

Hair: Your hair should be clean, dry and neatly combed. Women with longer hair should wear it back so it doesn't become a distraction. Dressy hair clips should replace more bulky, everyday clips. If it is damp on the day of your interview, take this into account and adjust your hairstyle accordingly to avoid frizzing. Always carry an umbrella if there's even a remote chance of rain or snow.

Dress for Success is a terrific non-profit organization that helps low-income women obtain interview suits. To learn more, including information on how to donate clothing or make a financial contribution, visit their website at www.dressforsuccess.org (http://www.dressforsuccess.org).

Avoid Pre-Interview and Post-Interview Blunders!
Six Important Tips

Even to the most seasoned veteran, interviews are by their nature unpredictable; you simply cannot prepare for every possible question you might encounter, and you are ultimately at the mercy of the selection team.

Tip #1: Eat Smart
Tip #2: Travel Light
Tip #3: Pass Clothing Inspection
Tip #4: Do Your Homework
Tip #5: Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!
Tip #6: Exit Gracefully

Tip #1: Eat Smart
Give yourself an advantage before you even walk into the lobby by eating a smart meal, ideally an hour or so before your interview. Try to include a balanced combination of sugars (such as orange juice), proteins (such as meat or dairy products) and carbohydrates (such as bread or rice). Avoid meals disproportionally rich in any one of these three areas.
If your body is accustomed to caffeine, indulge in your normal amount but avoid overdosing; you'll probably be nervous enough!

Tip #2: Travel Light
Pack only a small bag or portfolio the night before your interview. Include a pen and notepad, multiple copies of your resume, reference lists or recommendation letters, examples of your work (if applicable), and something appropriate to read while you are waiting to be called. If you bring a cellular phone or pager, turn it off before you enter the building.

Tip #3: Pass Clothing Inspection
Prior to your interview, consider conducting a dress rehearsal and ask for the opinion of a trusted friend. Style your hair the way you plan on doing so for the real interview, and wear the same jewelry, shoes, and other accessories. An honest friend will help you identify potential problems so that you may correct them before any harm is done. (Click here for more information on proper interview attire for Men and Women.)
When your meeting arrives you want to be concentrated on the interview itself and not be wasting your energy worrying about your clothing.

Tip #4: Do Your Homework
Try to find out in what type of interview format you'll be participating. If you anticipate a group interview, for example, prepare accordingly by focusing on traditional group interview inquiries and multiple follow-up requests. If you'll be involved in a behavioral interview, read up on the variety of behavioral questions with which you might be faced based on the particular job opening.
Always, of course, arrived armed with a basic understanding of the organization, their history, industry, and competitors. Also learn as much as you can about the specific position for which you are applying.

Tip #5: Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!
While it's probably true that sending thank-you cards will not land you a job, failing to send them may cost you one.
You should walk out of your interview with a business card from not only all of your interviewers, but also from every other person you spoke with who either spent any significant time with you or may be involved in the hiring decision process.
Write out a thank-you card for each person from whom you received a business card. Do this the same day as your interview, and mail them within 48 hours.
Avoid group thank-you correspondence unless a large group interviewed you and only some members were involved. Email thank-you messages are not as impactful as traditional ones, but are certainly better than none at all. In the information technology field, they are fine or even preferred.

Tip #6: Exit Gracefully
In reality, your interview begins the second you set foot into the lobby and ends the moment you leave. Don't let your guard down as you gather your belongings and are escorted from the interview room! Continue to set forth a positive and professional posture. Refrain from chewing gum, using your cell phone, or engaging in any other activity in which you wouldn't practice before or during your interview.
Don't assume that your casual remarks, as you walk out the door, are off the record; they probably aren't.

"Any Questions?" What you should ask your Potential Employer during the Interview
Candidates are encouraged to ask questions at the conclusion of their interviews. How they respond to such requests may leave strong impressions on the interviewers, especially considering that these questions and answeres are often the final words exchanged at the very end of the interviews. Read on for some sound advice on what to ask and what not to.

As a candidate, your questions should come from two sources: questions that you've prepared before the interview and questions that you develop during the interview. It's a good idea to mix in both types of questions, helping to show that you are both prepared (by asking prepared questions) and engaged in the interview (by developing new ones based on the conversation).

When researching a company, start with the organization's web site. Most companies have an About Us (or similarly named) link- this information can be very helpful. Also, browse for press releases on the firm's site, search Yahoo News, and use company background resources like Hoovers.com or local newspapers.

Quite often, questions you plan to ask at the end of the interview are answered during it. Anticipate this happening! Draft more questions than you'd ever actually ask so that you'll have plenty of extras should some of them be spoiled.

If you are genuinely interested in a particular prepared question, but it's answered during the main part of the interview, you can still use it! You can communicate your interest in the topic and salvage the question by offering to the interviewer the question along with the answer you learned during the interview. This technique not only gives you the opportunity to present your favorite question, but also lets the interviewer know that you were listening to him or her during the interview as you were able to repeat the answer.

What to ask your Potential Employer
1. The Company
Sample question: "I'm familiar with your company's overall goals and unique services, but would you mind giving me additional information?"
Although you should have the basics covered (e.g. history of the company, main divisions, products/services) asking questions about the goals and objectives of the organization are key. Most companies spend a great deal of time and money developing them and are eager to explain them to anyone who'll listen. You can follow this question up with more questions about departmental objectives, which will often lead into a discussion about the objectives for the individual position for which you are applying.

2. Vacancy of position
Sample question: "How long has the position been open and what are you looking for in the right candidate?"
Inquire as to how the position came to be vacant and how long they have been looking. This interesting question can also be followed with an inquiry as to what the employer is looking for if it's been open for sometime. Additionally, this can spur numerous points of conversation (and subsequent questions) about departmental hierarchy, career paths and other topics of interest.

3. Environment
Sample question: "How would you describe this company's work environment?"
Ask about the organizational culture and its affect on the work performed there. This multifaceted question can lead to many successive discussions about workflow, employee satisfaction, job empowerment and enrichment and dozens of other areas.

4. Performance Evaluations
Sample questions: "Can I expect to be evaluated periodically? On what? By whom?"
Request information on performance reviews. Ask how performance is appraised, how often, and by whom. These questions imply that you are confident in your performance and that you welcome the opportunity to have it evaluated.

5. Objectives of the Position
Sample question: "Can you describe an average day for the individual who holds the position?"
Ask about the day-to-day responsibilities of the job for which you're applying. Inquire specifically about the tools you'll be using, the other employees with whom you'll be interacting, and the detail to which your work will be predefined. You'll need this information to help you decide whether or not to accept the position if it is offered to you. The failure to ask these questions may set forth an air of desperation.

Types of Questions to Avoid
1. Salary and Benefits
It's difficult (and often frustrating) but shy away from questions best left for human resources, such as specific salary and benefit questions or general office policies. Not only might your interviewer not be able to answer these types of questions, but also you may send the message that you are more concerned about yourself than about the organization with which you are applying.

2. Simplistic Questions
Avoid questions to which you should already know the answers! It is expected that professional job applicants do at least some organizational research before their interviews. While it's okay to ask for commentary or additional information about an organizational event (such as a recent merger or a major product launch), never ask a question that indicates that you haven't done your homework. For instance, you wouldn't interview with America Online and ask something like, "So you guys merged with a cable company. Time Warner, right?" Simplistic questions like this could hurt you! In a nutshell, don't ask questions just for the sake of asking something. Do your homework. Walk into the interview prepared and confident!

Plotter Guy
16-09-2008, 08:48 PM
Those are good tips Archi, but the NUMBER 1tip is left out DO NOT LIE in an interview , You WILL get CAUGHT!!!!!! Seriously I looked for an asst to takeover for me for 1 1/2 year, and you'd be amazed how some people will look you right in the eye and LIE to you about their skill set, then try and BS their way though! and I always love the Well I used acad 2004, but I've been drawing for 5 years and 2002 is too old for them. I love it when it's the machine's fault :) :) :) :)

16-09-2008, 09:01 PM
I've found this to be true 98% of the times...

when posting a position to fill... (as the employer)
its best to post the next rank up...

This is due to the fact that most do lie...
So to work with the liars out there...

If i need a junior draftsman.... i would post for a senior draftsman...
chances are - all applicants will be juniors trying to move up a rank and salary....

in the end... I'm only lying... to liars anyway...
so its a wash in my eyes

And its not like the canidate will know the operations in my office...
In the end - I've accepted everyone lies so why bother believing someone will come in honest....
Money makes many people do less than admirable things.

so far everyone that's followed that advice... has never been more happy with the applicants that come in....


16-09-2008, 09:46 PM
Its a different interview culture here in the UK.

Most of the advice given above still applies, but we seem to be a bit less formal both when interviewing and when being interviewed.

I would not expect a candidate that I was interviewing to know very much about the company, especially not when it was founded and its revenues.

As long as male dress is smart and not flamboyant or scruffy a suit is not necessary.
The same applies to female dress with makeup and jewelry being an extra consideration, keep it toned down.

Telephone interviews rarely happen in the UK.

The questions you should ask an interviewer are roughly the same.

Whenever I have been interviewing the attitude of the interviewee has always been a major consideration- dont be too chatty, dont be too quiet, dont try to bulls--t me, dont apply for the job if you dont know how to do it.

Overall just be yourself - thats what you will be when you get the job.

Plotter Guy
16-09-2008, 11:07 PM
Well said Nuke, but in a professional environment, like when I was still doing Corporate IT, I'd never hire a Woman in Pants any more than I'd hire a Man in a Dress. as far as I'm concerned If I have to wear a Tie and a Jacket, I expect my Juniors to as well! and this may be way out of line and dated, but if a lady is unwilling to dress like a LADY, how can I be sure she'll act like one! Plus Nothing Says I'm going to be a problem, or I'm going to rebel against the Status quo like Non Traditional Dress in a Business/office environment. now here in the Shop, I expect my Helper to wear jeans and T-Shirts, but she also keeps a nice Conservative Dress in the Storage closet next to MY Shirt and Jacket for meetings with Large Customers. I once worked at a World wide Drink manufacturer, and my admin would come to work dressed like a HOOKER, and when I told her she needed to dress more like a lady, THAT WAS SEXUAL HARASSMENT, and I got to go to "Sensitivity" Training for all of one day before I asked the Woman Running the class if it was acceptable for me to come to work in a Mini Skirt and a Midriff Blouse. :) thank god I had an open offer from a local Software Development Company. but Like I say I believe in the Status quo, and I'd rather hire some one Who knows nothing and has a willingness to LEARN, over the Guy that thinks he knows it all and can't t produce! I think more and more employers are willing to take a chance on some one Keen to learn, over the "SUPER GUY" who knows it all!