Preparing for an INTERVIEW

By Linda Torres (Nina Trs) Employee Retirement Services
Preparing for an INTERVIEW can rob you of sleep.  I’ve had people ask me for suggestions or advice on INTERVIEWING.  I’ve seen many resumes and some very impressive yet the person states that they have gone from interview to interview with no luck.  Are you currently unemployed and feel the same way?  Do you feel that you were well qualified for a job and yet no call back?  There are a number of reasons for it.  1.  Employer was not convinced during your interview. 2. You were over-qualified (yes, there is such a thing as over-qualified).  3. Resume looks to-good-to-be true or not impressive enough. 4. They already had someone else in mind but due to legalities they must interview a number of people before closing the post.
  1. Employer was not convinced during your interview. First impressions are the pentacle of your interview.  The way you shook hands, smiled at him/her, sat at the chair, engaged yourself during the interview and dressed COUNT during your interview.  You need to have a firm/strong hand shack with a smile looking directly in his/her eyes (do not shy away).  When sitting don’t sit too relaxed with legs crossed as if you are talking with your buddy.  Engage yourself in the interview by answering his/her questions with more than a simple yes or no answer.  Most of us will be nervous if we are NOT familiar with the environment, topic or unaware of the kinds of questions we will be asked.  To ease your nerves you must do your research on the company as much as possible, on the specific position you are seeking and on their competitors.
  2.  You were over-qualified.  This is a tricky one.  Going about and describing all your previous work history (especially if it was at a “higher” position) can hurt you.  If the employer has ONLY that one position to offer he/she might feel that you are over qualified and you will probably find a better “higher paying/position” job in a matter of months and leave.  Downgrading job positions is not easy.  Employers spend time and money training people and they can’t jeopardize this valuable time on someone that will “probably” leave because the position is not challenging enough.  On the other hand if the employer has several positions he/she might appreciate your “over qualified” experience and place you in a more suitable position (e.i. supervisor).
  3. Your resume looks to-good-to-be-true or vice versa.  Have a resume professionally done.  It needs to be in a clean cut format with easy to follow figures in forms of paragraphs and bullet points.   DO NOT put something you THINK you can do (e.i. powerpoint presentations, graphs, Excel spreadsheets with complex formulas, etc.)  Only put information you can deliver.  Remember: under promise and over deliver NOT over promise and under deliver.
  4. They had someone already in mind.  Sorry, I can’t help you there.  Unfortunately we see this often in Brownsville.  People get hired from referrals.  Just keep your chin up and don’t take it personal.
Tackling COMMON interview questions
  • Tell Me About Yourself
This question usually takes about one to two minutes to answer and will be your elevator pitch. You want to give them a brief rundown of who you are as a person and show how articulate you are. Don’t start rambling on about your personal history. Talk about highlights from job positions or schooling and how you can contribute to the company with your background and experiences.
Know what the company is looking for. If it’s technical skills, play those up. Showcase the qualities needed for the job you’re interviewing for.
  • What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?  The most dreaded question!
Think about what others have said about you when you’re trying to come up with a list of your strengths. Remember, always back up your points with an example.
Pick strengths that align with the company’s culture and goals. If you’re applying to a scrappy start-up, highlight your ability to multitask and to take initiative.  Brownsville has many of those positions where they are hiring you for a position that would or WAS performed by several employees.
The most important factor when choosing which strengths to highlight is to make sure they relate to the position your applying to. For example, if you’re applying for a human resources position, talk about your interpersonal skills.
The weakness question is always the hardest to answer. Don’t give a clichéd (corny) answer such as you work too hard or you’re too much of a perfectionist. Try your best to stick to the truth and make sure you mention the steps you take to counter the weakness. Don’t disclose anything that will make you look like an incompetent employee, such as not meeting deadlines and getting into conflicts with co-workers. Put a positive spin on the weakness but make sure it doesn’t sound too practiced. An example of weaknesses can be impatience, which can mean that you want to get the job done. Another weakness can be time management but make sure you name the steps you take to beat that problem. You will look like a problem solver when you show them what you did to fix a flaw.
  • What Salary Are You Looking For?
You don’t have to answer this question at the interview, and you can try to deflect this question until you’ve received an offer. Tell the interviewers that you want to hold off on salary talk until the both of you know that you’re right for the job.
  • Why Do You Want to Work For Us?
Read up everything you can about the company, including the website, news articles, profiles of employees, and any tidbits on LinkedIn. If you or your friends know employees at the company, ask if they can speak to you about what the company is like.
Try to get a sense of what the company culture is and what it’s goals are. Once you’ve done your homework, you need to figure out how the company ties into your own career path and future.  Having all this knowledge will ease your nerves thus resulting in a smoother interview.
  • Where Do You See Yourself in a Few Years?

Think about how you can move forward from the position you’re eyeing. Figure out the natural career track and tailor your answer to the company. Try to be honest but not to the point where you make yourself look like an unattractive candidate, such as saying you want to work for their competitor or something too personal like becoming a mom. Stick to professional examples; they don’t want to hear about your personal life plan.  You are probably laughing but some people do ramble about their personal life and personal goals!

  • Are You Interviewing With Other Companies?
Try not to spend too much time on this question and answer briefly. A simple yes and mentioning the fact that you’re open to opportunities will do the trick. You can also say that this particular job is your first choice. Remember, honesty is always the best policy, and don’t lie and say you’re interviewing at certain companies when you’re not.
  • What Can You Do For This Company?
There are several versions of this question, which also includes, “What will you do when you’re at [job position x]?” When you’re preparing for the interview, think about why you would do a good job at the position and what steps you would take to achieve that. Bring in new ideas and examples of what you have done in the past that has benefited your previous companies.  Show that you have initiative and creative when it comes to ideas or problem solving.
  • Why Do You Want to Leave or Why Did You Leave Your Current Job?
It’s understandable if you were laid off given the rocky economy. You don’t have to share the dirty details, but you should be truthful and mention that your company had to let go of X number of people or the department was being restructured.
If you are leaving because of a negative situation, be sure not to badmouth your old company or boss. It just reflects badly on you if you do. You can focus on the fact that you’re looking for growth and that you feel this company feels like the step in the right direction.  Remember Brownsville is a small town, don’t badmouth your previous employer because sooner or later it can and probably will come back and haunt you.  You can also say that the company’s goals or direction was not in par with yours. Sweet and short.
  • Do You Have Any Questions For Me?
Asking good questions can reveal a lot of your personality and can be the most important part of the interview. Take some time into crafting very personal, well thought-out questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” answer.
Don’t ask questions that seem to be too assuming and that make you sound like you think you got the job. Don’t try to focus on pay, benefits, and getting promoted. Focus more on what you can do for the company and not what the company can do for you.
I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with many employers, store managers, HR managers and, mom-and-pop store owners.  They all have given me great in-sight on what exactly they are looking for.  Store managers are always seeking good, honest people that can “supervise” or hold good leadership skills.  They are looking for people that have initiative, self-driven and not afraid of responsibilities.

3 thoughts on “Preparing for an INTERVIEW

  1. Nina Trrs

    Anonymous thank you for your feedback and concern. I dedicated a day worth of work to compose this article. I am a state licensed financial advisor and personal development coach. For the past ten years I have dedicated my time and energy empowering aspiring entrepreneurs and retirees seeking additional forms of income. I have given numerous workshops on such topics for BISD and UTPA. Aside from gathering most of my data from personal experience I do utilize the Internet for cross references and research purposes. I sincerely hope you enjoyed the article. My next article is on how-to and pros/cons on starting a home based business.

  2. Jennifer Nicole

    Nina, I love reading all of your articles… To me they are great reads, very informative and beautiful put together… Thank you for all you advice and tips…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s