Most engineers have had limited training in taking a job interview. Yet, in the current market it may be the single most important factor in locking in a new career opportunity.
With today's information technology a candidate has the ability to do some initial research on a given company through their website and glean a sizable amount of information which could be useful in interviewing planning. By acquiring information on an organization's products, executive team, patents, press releases, and history, a job candidate can enhance his/her abilities to discuss specific skills and accomplishments that would be relevant to a company's specific needs.
The first step in the preparation phase is to draft what I call a set of Inventory Sheets that can be taken to the interview to be used as cue cards similar to what one might use in public speaking. These sheets would consist of employment, educational and miscellaneous information about you which can be used as an outline for discussions. Used properly, these sheet will help put your strengths in the best light, describe the results you've obtained in previous positions and allow you to be much more confident in the interviews.
Most candidates are under the impression that a prospective employer is the party that should control an interview. My own experience as a recruiter " and coach " suggests that the job candidate is actually in the best position to determine if there's a match. Interviewers who take part in the process actually do so as a very small part of their day and they are often interrupted by phone calls, office drop ins, etc. A job candidate, on the other hand, has the sole mission to sell himself and evaluate any opportunities presented based on their merits. Most interviews, you'll find, involve a series of one-on-one conversations with a number of people that will ultimately influence any copy hiring decision. From a strategic perspective, it is vitally important to any candidate that he/she be able to convince each interviewer that they are a good candidate for the position they're trying to feel. What is most important to understand is that each of the interviewers may be looking for a different set of skills or strengths. In order to increase the chances of selling one's abilities it is critical that a candidate quickly determine the individual interviewer's focal points.
As part of the Inventory Sheet preparation what is most important is to identify and list past accomplishments and achievements and be able to specifically show how those accomplishments translated into tangible results for previous companies. Many candidates' resumes for example are feature oriented describing nothing more than previous responsibilities. A hiring official must then be able to bridge from these previous positions that there is sufficient reason to believe a candidate can perform the required tasks and derive his expected results. It is much more desirable to be in a position where you can discuss, at a moments notice, the previous accomplishments and subsequent results in previous positions thereby helping the interviewer come to a positive decision.
A strategy for interviewing can be very useful for both candidates and interviewers alike, and (in my hands) might differ to some degree from other recommended techniques. By following this strategy candidates and their interviewers will increase the likelihood of an intelligent decision for both the company and the candidate. As an interviewee you must understand that each interviewer will in all cases have to issue a hire/no-hire decision to the hiring manager within a short time after an interview " yet " each interviewer may have a different set of criteria in determining their decision. Here's the punch line: as a candidate you should ask the interviewer a key question, as early as possible in the conversation. It might sound something like this: "Mr. Employer: It's my understanding that we will spend 45-60 minutes together (not a lot of time). To help both of us, can I ask that you describe to me what skills you feel a prospective candidate should possess, what are you looking for this person to accomplish for your company, and in what time frame might you be seeking these results"?
I have found that most interviewers will then essentially describe what critical skills they're looking for, and what their expectations of a potential candidate are most important to them personally. At this stage, a dialogue can begin, and this will allow you as a candidate to speak in terms of skills and accomplishments that will be most relevant to the interviewer's "Hot Buttons."
Interviewers are chosen for several different reasons. Some may be assigned to do a technical screening; others may simply interface with the new hire and therefore are involved in determining a good personality match or team player skills. Executive or Management staff may be looking to determine the upside potential of the candidate. The conclusion of the interview is as important as the beginning. As such you do want to ask the final question, which will help, determine if the interviewer has any concerns.
There are only two types of concerns; real or imagined. It is vital to at that moment address them so that should any of the objections be a perception vs. reality you can clarify any information. This clarification can change the interviewers conclusion. It is far harder to change a person's mind after a hire/no-hire decision has been made. It is also in the interest of the company to be able to make an accurate hire/no-hire decision based on solid real data vs. simple inaccurate perceptions. You might structure the last question something like this "Bob, do you mind if I ask one final question? We have been together for 30 minutes and based on our conversations do you have any concerns about my abilities to succeed within your pre-determined time frames? If so, do you mind sharing these with me"
You may find that you and he miss communicated on a given skill that you possess and in clarifying this with additional information you can turn a potential no into a yes. At the conclusion of the series of interviews you are also in a position to report any concerns whether real or imagined directly to the hiring manager which provides an opportunity to present your counter points to the key person in the hiring chain. The one thing that I would suggest is that it is generally impossible to determine which member of the interviewing staff has the highest percentage of the hire/no-hire decision. At least however utilizing this technique you can improve your chances of selling yourself to everyone equally.
I would strongly encourage you to visit our website and view the "Interviewing Tips" section under Candidate Information and follow these time tested methods to help achieve a solid offer. The link is
or simply go to www.analogsolutions.com and click on the Candidate button.