A Bit about Preparing Yourself for Interviews

When preparing, it's important to know that Interviewers Often Speak in Code

Read below to decipher the code.

Questions are often not straightforward. If you're finding you're not on the same page with employers, let us help--before you blow the next interview.  

Consider the Tell Me About Yourself Question. It sounds like the boss wants you to talk at length about:
  1. The great companies you've worked for;
  2. How you are a fabulous, results-oriented, bottom-line kind of guy/gal;
  3. The impressive schools you attended; and
  4. The way you spend your free time with your lovely family.

Wrong! (Correct answer is below).

In order to successfully show the interviewer you're the best person for the job, you need to first understand three things...
  1. What is the employer really looking for?
  2. What is the interviewer really asking?
  3. And how can I best communicate that I'm what they want?
Job interviews consist of four basic questions and one statement. Each one of these has to be nailed in a job interview. Each has a different strategy to answer it. Winging it doesn't work. Here are the keys to answering these questions:

1. Tell Me About Yourself
Meaning behind the code: How can you contribute here?

Prepare specific one-minute illustrations of your problem-solving and money-making abilities with quantifiable results. Remember, people won't be impressed just because you've had responsibility. The Boss in the Dilbert comic strip has loads of responsibilities, BUT he's an idiot! Show how you made a difference.

2. Why do You Want to Work Here?
Meaning behind the code: Are you going to work out or will I have to re-hire in a few short months?

This includes all questions concerning your knowledge of the company as well as your long-term career goals. Make sure you know enough about the company to make a credible assertion that you'd rather work there than for one of their competitors. Ask enough questions of the employer to ensure that the job, management style, culture, and other factors are a good match for you and your career goals.

3. All "Sensitive" Questions
Meaning behind the code: Are you a toad? Will I regret hiring you?

This category includes the most feared questions:
  • "Why were you fired?"
  • "Why are you job hopping?"
  • "How come you've been out of work so long?"
  • "Why aren't you farther along in your career?"
  • Why did you spend so long at your last company? (Remember when longevity was a badge of honor?).
Know and rehearse brief answers to any sensitive questions. Use positive information about your past and turn previous mistakes into lessons and defects into virtues. Key: Ask a question to artfully re-focus the interviewer on how you can contribute and focus attention on ensuring the job is a good fit.

4. How much were you making on your last job? What are your salary requirements? Meaning behind the code: Can I afford you?

or How good are you really?
or sometimes, How Cheap can I get you?

You want to avoid getting screened out over money, and STOP getting paid less than you're worth. Usually, but not always, the best strategy is to avoid any conversation around money until after you have an offer, and let the employer be the first one to mention a dollar figure.

Then, you need to ask for what you want. A recent study suggests that while it is true that women are paid less than men for doing the same work, the problem isn't always with the employer. This study found that many times, men and women were made similar offers, but the men asked for more. The women didn't.

5. "Is Anybody Home?"
These are questions you ask to set up a structure for communicating with the employer after the interview. Don't put yourself in the position of having to wait for the employer to call you. Use a structured follow-up to make sure you can be in touch with the boss after the interview, without being a pest.

Ready to make sure you nail the next interview?