Wednesday, October 30, 2013

ERC's Travis Peters offers his advice on job interviews, check it out!

Fall Prime Time to Make a Change

Several people have asked us recently whether fall is a good time to consider a job change. We asked Travis Peters, partner at ERC, that question as well as a number of others regarding the all-important job interview. We’d like to share his answers with you.

Q: Is fall a good time to consider a job change?

A: Fall is a great time to consider a job change. Many companies have plans for growth, new implementations, or new product launches targeted for the first of the year. Frequently, those plans require new staff, and companies want those new people in place before the New Year, and before those new
initiatives begin.

Fall also ushers in a new budget season for most companies. That includes hiring budgets, and often—particularly in the case of larger companies—that budget needs to be used to avoid the risk of losing it next year. This situation can help “A Players” target specific opportunities that might be tailored to their skill set.

Q: What is the single most important thing I can do to prepare for a job interview?

A: The single most important thing? That’s tough! There are so many critical things a person needs to do in preparation for an interview, but I’ll do my best to give a couple of the most important things. First, be sure you have done your research on the company, position, and hiring manager you are interviewing with. Companies gauge interest by how well you have prepared and how much time you have spent researching their organization.

The next thing I would suggest, to keep this simple, would be to be likeable, engaging, and clear in your genuine interest in the position. In the end, hiring managers make offers to candidates they like and candidates that they know want to go to work for them. Be yourself, but be the very best, most prepared version of yourself. When you’re prepared you’ll be confident and relaxed—two traits all hiring managers look for.

Q: How do I determine the proper attire for an interview? Is a suit/formal outfit always the best option if in doubt?

A: I always recommend dressing a step up from what you would wear on a daily basis. Obviously, a business suit is the only choice for any position in an office environment. But for people interviewing for a position where a suit and tie is not required, dress one step up. If normally you will wear blue jeans and a company shirt to work, make sure you are in a nice pair of slacks and collared shirt for the interview.

Q: Companies are interviewing you, but you are also interviewing them. What is important for you, as an interviewee, to find out about the company and the position during an interview?

A: Everyone is unique, so what one person would be after might differ from what is important to another person. The critical thing to remember is, until an offer is extended, the company has the power. If something is said or done in an interview to turn the company off, the candidate never has the chance to even see an offer. Knowing that, it is important to gain the information you need while still asking questions that put the company first. For instance, instead of asking, “If I get promoted, what is the next step in this company?” say, “Ms. Hiring Manager, I understand that progression and promotions are earned over time with exceptional performance. For those employees that have been in this role before and excelled, what has their career track been?”

Get the information that you need to make a decision, but do it in a way that does not come across as shallow or selfish. It is all about presentation and delivery. You can always get the information in a way that makes you look even more professional.

Q: What are the best questions to ask in an interview to show your interest in the company?

A: The questions that you ask in an interview are truly the only way to differentiate yourself from everyone else interviewing for the same position. We can all go online, research interviewing tips and techniques, and access similar information. We know the basic “dos and don’ts” of interviewing. Therefore, questions that are unique are going to separate you from your competition. Remember to put yourself in the interviewer’s chair, anticipate areas of opportunity and risk, and ask about them. Let that interviewer know that you have already put yourself in that position and are anticipating ways to make an impact.

Finally, it is critical that you ask for the job. “Mr. Manager, I want you to know that I am extremely interested in this position. Based on our discussion and what you have told me you need, I’m confident I possess all of the traits you are looking for. However, is there anything that you see in my background, and from what we have discussed today, that would prevent me from being successful?”

Don’t exit the room if there are still doubts in the interviewer’s mind. Get the concerns on the table and give yourself a chance to address and overcome any objections they may have.

Q: What sort of research should you do to prepare for an interview?

A: With the access we have to information today, there is no excuse to not do your research on an organization. Visit the company’s website and the interviewer’s LinkedIn page to learn not only as much as you can about the organization, but also about the person that will be conducting the interview. Look for common ground such as, education, community involvement, sports teams, etc. Don’t be a stalker, but discuss those common interests when the opportunity presents itself.