Top Executive Recruiters Agree that All Interview Questions Boil Down to Three Critical Questions:
Can you do the job? (Background, skillsets, leadership style)
Do you want the job? (Motivation and level of enthusiasm)
Do we want to work with you? (Personality and cultural fit)
1. Can You Do the Job? (Do you have the experience and technical skill set to be a top performer?)
Matching your work experience with the job. Usually, the minimum job qualifications are included in the job posting. The minimum qualifications are simply that: the minimum experience you must have for your application to be considered for the position. In all cases, the employer is looking for applicants with qualifications that exceed the minimum qualifications. The employer is seeking the best candidate for the position and will be attracted to those applicants with exceptional skills and experience. Your resume should reflect the exceptional skills you have to perform the job.
Past performance is an indicator of future performance. . Employers are interested in your past performance and previous successful accomplishments as they relate to the position being filled. Employers want to know how you managed past circumstances and want to know that you will bring to their organization the same successful performance you demonstrated with past employers. Be prepared to share the way your past performance will benefit a new employer.
2. Do you want the job? (What is your motivation and level of enthusiasm for the position?)
Is this a job that you really want at this time of your career? Some people take jobs they hate; some take jobs they don’t hate, but they don’t really love. Some people are fortunate to take jobs they really love. This is not by accident. By knowing the job expectations and comparing them to your knowledge, skills and abilities, you can be one of the fortunate ones. Stretching yourself professionally can be beneficial and keep you engaged and growing but overreaching will not make you or your employer successful. Take the time before you apply for a job to consider what job makes sense as the next step in your career and think about how the job you are considering will help you achieve the ultimate career position you are seeking.
Research the company. Employers want to know that you want THIS job at THIS company, not just any job at any company. Learn as much as possible about the company, the position and the culture. There is a great deal of information available on the web about companies, that you would benefit from if you dig deeper. Do you know anyone who works there or someone who knows someone who works there? Perhaps a consultant to the company or a customer? Are you familiar with the community where you would be employed if you are selected? What do you know about it, the cost of living and things to do? Employers are impressed when applicants have done their homework and show initiative.
Be prepared to ask questions. If time allows in the interview, ask questions that show your interest in the company. Asking questions also shows the employer that you have researched the job and the company. Asking insightful questions lets the employer know that you have given thought to information you discovered about the job and the company as well as showing the confidence you have in your abilities. Asking questions does not typically involve questions about time off, vacation time, salary or benefits unless these subjects were brought up during the interview. These subjects are usually part of negotiations if you are selected for the job.
Your Cover Letter can make you shine. Often resumes do not lend themselves to adequately showcase your experience since titles vary from company to company and from industry to industry. The cover letter allows you to highlight accomplishments that match what the employer is looking for. In the cover letter, describe your experience using key phrases found in the job description. This catches the employer’s attention and may lead to an interview. To make your cover letter stand out amongst the many other cover letters, consider including a link to your own professional recorded video snippet that answers the three (3) questions that employers want to know before they hire. Statistics show that hiring managers would rather watch a short video snippet than read a résumé or written response to questions.
3. Do We Want to Work With You? (Is your personality a good cultural fit?)
Know yourself and your personality traits. What comes naturally to you and what requires more energy to accomplish? Personality assessments help you better understand your own behavior and also help you know if you are applying for the right job that you will love. Click Here.
Good communication skills are needed in practically every job. Being able to get your message across is one of the top skill sets requested by employers at any level. Practice, practice, and practice some more. You should be able to anticipate and answer any interview question. Some people are naturals at interviewing. If you are not, or have not interviewed for a long time, you can improve by reading ‘How to Interview’ or “Public Speaking” books and articles, or even better, you can record your responses to a wide variety of timed, self-guided interview questions with as many retakes as needed for your own review. It is better to practice before the interview than at the interview! Check out our interview practice tool. Click Here.
Body language is vital, especially eye contact and handshakes. Because eyes are one of the best attributes of human expression, it is important to look interviewers “in the eye”, whether in-person or via the computer camera if you are being interviewed online. Eye contact shows respect, interest, appreciation, focus and confidence. And, speaking of confidence, a good firm handshake (but not crushing) is a universal sign of strength and assuredness which is why everyone should have one when they go to an interview.
A friendly smile and sense of humor go a long way. While a smile is part of body language, this is so important that it is mentioned separately. An unsmiling face that is as serious as a heart attack most likely will not win the job, no matter how experienced. (That answers the question, “Do we want to work with you?”)
Attitude, Attitude, Attitude. You’ve heard it since you were a kid, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything.” The fastest way to raise a red flag with a potential hiring manager is to talk negatively about your company, your boss, your team, or your peers. When people are interviewing for a new position, they typically put their best foot forward. If you are negative during an interview, potential employers expect you will bring your negativity with you where ever you are. Having a positive attitude is critical. We are strong believers that what you put out comes back.
Listen. One of the most common interview mistakes is not listening to the question and not really answering the question that was asked. When you have answered the question, stop. No rambling and repeating. If you really listen to the question, you will know when you are finished. Good listening skills are imperative for interviews and building lasting relationships.
Best of luck to you in getting the interview and “crushing it”!
Note: Some of these topics are repeated in other sections because they are critical to your success.