Past Issues

March 08, 2010

Interviewing to Take Home the Gold

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Interviewing to Take Home the Gold

By Chandra Fox, Vice President, e-resume.net

Interviewing is like being selected to compete in the Olympics: you have outperformed hundreds or thousands of competitors and are down to the final round.

You are now competing with the best of the best. How can you leave with the gold? Here are keys to making your interview a day for the champion.

Research your company. How can you convincingly show interest in a position that will take approximately 25% of the hours in your week with no knowledge of the general job description, the company, its goals, or its current events? You can't. Here is how to understand the company with which you will be interviewing:

  • Get the company's annual report from its website.
  • Visit its website to read about the direction of the company and any current media coverage
  • For smaller companies, call the city's Chamber of Commerce.
Prepare yourself but do not memorize. If you try to memorize a response to the question, "What is your biggest strength?" you will blurt it out, privately congratulating yourself on your memory while the interviewer stares in disbelief at how quickly you answered that question without seeming to give it much consideration. Instead, think of some challenges in your work background -- positive and negative -- and tie your answer to those challenges, your response, and the results.

Have questions for the interviewer. Here are some good ones:
  • How does my job fit with the mission of the organization, corporate performance, or profitability?
  • What will I be contributing to the organization?
  • What is your corporate culture?
  • What differentiates your company from your competition?
Mental Preparation. As you arrive early for the interview (at least 15 minutes), and you are waiting to be called in, mentally prepare for your interview. Picture the interview going smoothly, the interviewer asking questions, and your answering them perfectly. Imagine the interviewer telling you that you seem perfect for the job as you leave even more excited about the position. Avoid thinking, "What if they don't like me?" or "What if I get stumped?" and focus instead on relaxing.

Close of the interview. You are ahead of the competition and on your way to the gold medal, but you get a cramp. Do you stop? Not a chance. You have to cross the finish line, just as you have to close the sale of yourself in the interview. The end of the interview is your time to close with "a positive, very interested in what you have learned" close.

When the Interviewer is closing with "Well, if you have no further questions, then we are done," that is your cue to say one of the following:
  • Actually, I'd like to know how I should proceed from here. Should I contact you or will you be in contact?
  • How soon will I hear from you?
  • What is the process from here?
  • What would distinguish one potential candidate joining your company from another?
  • How do I prove my commitment to the organization?
Follow-up. You leave the interview and feel good about the position. Now go to your car and write down what just happened. This will help you write a thank you letter that shows both your interest and that you are a perfect match for the position.

There are, of course, as many ways to succeed in an interview as there are Olympic gold medal winners. The best advice is to relax and be yourself. Be as prepared as possible for your interview. And remember, it takes preparation and knowing how to play the game with strategy and excellence to win!

Chandra Fox, author of Interviewing to Take Home the Gold, is Vice President of e-resume.net, a national resume writing service. e-resume.net combines personalized attention with the speed of the Internet to deliver professional resumes, cover letters and other documents essential to clients throughout their job search.

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