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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Corporate Hustle! Top Interview Skills Needed to Land Your Dream Job in Any Economy

My younger brother recently graduated from Florida A & M University with a degree in Computer Information Systems and he is on his grind trying to apply for as many jobs as possible.

“It’s a numbers game, my father, the consummate sales professional, would always say. While I totally agree, there are a few things that you can do to increase your chances of getting the coveted call-back for a second interview, namely be OVER prepared for the first interview. Here’s how.

There are a few interview questions that are ALWAYS asked. Have your responses prepared and perfected. If you’re in the interview stumbling over theses simple questions it does not show you in the most positive light.

If the interviewer feels that you aren’t skilled at interviewing, it seems as if you are not an optimal candidate. If no one else has called you for an interview, or seriously considered hiring you for that matter, why should they? Think about it.

Before you walk into an interview consider the following questions that are almost ALWAYS asked during the first interview:

  1. Tell me about yourself?
  2. Why IT? (or your profession)
  3. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  4. What are your strengths?
  5. What are your weaknesses?
  6. What has been your greatest challenge personal or professional? How have you overcome this challenge?
  7. How have you overcome working with a difficult peer or supervisor?
  8. What do you know about the company?
  9. What do you know about the position?
  10. Why this company?
  11. If someone did not know about an IT professional (or your profession) what would you tell them as an overview?
  12. What did you learn/ like the most in your internship (or last industry job)?
  13. Do you have any questions for me? <-- ALWAYS answer YES!

Remember you are interviewing the company just as much as they are interviewing you. Interviewers are trying to determine if you are a good fit for the company. You do the same. Consider asking the following:

  1. Can you give me some insight into the corporate culture?
  2. Who will be my direct supervisor? What is their management style when things are running smoothly? What is their management style when the department is under a little pressure?
  3. What is a typical day of an IT (or your industry) professional in this position?
  4. What is the greatest thing I stand to learn from this position?
  5. Are there growth possibilities for this position?
  6. What is the typically time frame and perfected skill set before there is growth in this position?
  7. What will be the primary projects/ responsibilities of this position?
  8. How many people on the team? How many people doing my same position?

Other important tips:

  1. ASK to present your credentials in person, if interviewing by phone.
  2. ALWAYS be ten minutes early for the interview.
  3. ALWAYS bring 2 extra copies of your resume and cover letter.
  4. FIRM hand shake. GOOD eye contact.
  5. DON'T divulge too much personal info.. it almost always shows you in a negative light.
  6. ASK for the job.
Also, here's a list of Behavioral Interview Questions that may be asked during second round interviews.

Between you and I, if you just think of ONE good story and refer all your answers back to that story/ situation you should be straight, especially if you are entry level.

Interviewers are not expecting you to have a unique story for every one of these questions. They just want to see you "think quick". 90% of thinking quick is preparing before hand in addition to any first-hand experience you can draw from.

If you don’t have the first-hand experience, preparation is key.

Happy Hunting!

Kelliann McDonald is an award winning marketing and public relations strategist, personal branding coach, rainmaker and community advocate. A recognized brand motivator, McDonald connects people and ideas by designing tailored and engaging marketing communication campaigns for businesses looking to create a competitive advantage in today’s ever-evolving marketplace.
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