Interview Preparation

Posted on: July 18th, 2011 by
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Here are some stories from Christina and Matthew, about some critical mistakes that can be avoided before and during a job interview:

A MISSED OPPORTUNITY

  • Situation: A colleague resigned from his job to go work for a different company making the job of my dreams available. I was taken by surprise, but in a selfish way, I was thrilled to have an opportunity to move up.  Little did I know that I was considered a really good fit and that they would interview me, without any notice, the same week.

  • What did I do? I was flattered to be the first person to be interviewed for the job. I spoke from the heart making sure he understood how important this opportunity was for me, how my academic and professional experience meshed with the job requirements, so on and so forth. However, I did not have an updated resume nor did I provide him with my measurable results. I hadn’t taken time to understand the challenges that came with the job, nor did I ask him what it was that he expected me to do in that position.  I spoke from the heart and not the brain.
  • What happened? I followed up with a resume.  I was sure I did all the right things, especially considering that it was an impromptu interview.  A month later, I found out that I didn’t get the job.  Lesson:  Keep your eyes and ears open all the time, ask yourself the questions that others might ask, always be prepared, update your resume and please, don’t forget to mention your results: That you grew sales by 5% this year or you saved the company $$$, or that the marketing campaign that you were part of resulted in a 3 points market share.
Cristina in Virginia
(My Greener Future core rule:  Always focus on your results, not activities, Take nothing for granted until you get a Job Offer)

LISTEN CAREFULLY

  • Situation: I had an interview for a mid-level position with Xxxxxx (a large retail food store chain).  The interview was going well until, I realized later, I misunderstood a very simple but crucial question. The question was “What does customer service mean to Xxxxxx?”  What I heard was – “How important is quality customer service to Xxxxxx?”  I wasn’t listening carefully enough.
  • What happened: I went on to answer the question that wasn’t asked:  About the rise in the number of gourmet supermarkets; the need to compete on differentiation through customer service, not to compete on prices.  I listed other strategic reasons and thought that I had nailed the question.
  The interviewer gave me a bit of a confused look and I should have stopped and said “Did I understand the question correctly”, but didn’t. After leaving the interview I realized that what she meant was simply – “What types of customer services do we currently offer that are most important to us?”  I knew the answer to these simple questions because I was a current customer.  They always throw out fruits and vegetables that are anything less than perfect, and offer the newest products, have lot attendants etc.

  • ResultI blew it! The lesson, of course, is what we all know but easily forget.  If there is ANY ambiguity about a question always ask for a clarification.  Most importantly though, be careful of trying to impress with complex answers, as insightful as they may be. TAKE YOUR TIME. Process each question before beginning your answer and repeat the question in your mind before answering.  Make sure that you completely understand the question being asked of you.  Confusion about a question is not intentional. They want to hear you create and articulate an answer to the question they intend, not to a question you think they want to hear.
Matthew in New York
(My Greener Future core rule – Always clarify the question by repeating it back to the interviewer)



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