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Preparing for Employment Interviews

DOWNLOAD: Worksheet 10.1 – Preparing for Interviews

Executives in transition often think preparing for employment interviews relates both to when they are networking for employment and to when they have a formal interview with an employer. Here are the differences between the two:

Networking for employment

A significant part of your career search should be meeting people who can help you achieve your objective of finding another opportunity. People often hear the phrase, Networking for Employment, and think it means networking interviews.

When you are networking for employment, you are not interviewing. You are conducting Research.

Research means you have a specific objective or longer term goal in mind and you are connecting with others to obtain something of value that can help you to achieve your objective or goal. When you think of networking as research it will have a dramatic change in the dynamics of your conversations.

To learn how you can be more effective when you are networking for employment, click on the link: Employment Networking.

Employment interviews

Employers conduct interviews only when they have a position they want to fill. The position may be open because it is a new position or the incumbent has already left the company. Sometimes, the incumbent is still in the position and the company is looking to replace that person either because they will be leaving on their own (e.g., for another job or they are retiring) or they will be leaving for other reasons (e.g., performance or other issues).

Your success at interviewing with potential employers depends on how well you are perceived by the employer. Since employers typically ask questions that are similar to what other employers will ask, you can improve your success at interviews by being prepared for those questions you are most likely to be asked.

When I led an executive search firm, all our recruiters were senior-level seasoned executives. This enabled us to develop interview questions based on our own prior experiences as well as what we knew our clients would be asking. Interviewers usually focus on asking behavioral-type questions, which ask interviewees about their personal experiences (e.g., “Describe how you handled…”) rather than hypothetical situations (e.g., “Describe how you would handle…”).

Experienced interviewers will want to assess whether you have the skills and experience to do what they want you to do. Even when they do not have a specific position in mind at the moment, they will want to know the skills and experience you can bring to them that they need.

Interviews are two way conversations. Use a balance 60% / 40%. You talking 60% of the time and the interviewer answering your questions 40% of the time. Never exceed 2 minutes in any reply.

When you attend an interview for potential employment, the interviewer will be looking to decide on the following three questions:

  1. Can you do what we want you to do? (e.g., Do you have the skills and experience we think you need to do what we want?)
  2. Will you fit in with the profile of our current employees? (e.g., employee assimilation and culture.)
  3. Do I like you? (e.g., Do I think you have you been candid and forthright and do I feel we have established a good relationship?)

If you pass the first question, they then assess how well you pass the second question. Finally, they will assess whether they like you. If they really like you, especially if you have been referred to them by someone they already know who has referred you to them, the third question could be the most important answer to them even when you are not the most qualified for the job.

To help you be more effective when you attend an employment interview, click the link to download Worksheet 10.1 – Preparing for Interviews.

The worksheet lists sixty questions you are most likely to be asked in an employment interview. Complete the worksheet and follow the instructions on how to use it before you attend an interview. Update it when you encounter other questions you had difficulty answering.