Successful Interview Strategies

Keifer Professional Search: Quality on a Hire Level

You can be confident that your Keifer Professional Search consultant has the skills, contacts, and experience to help you find the new opportunity that’s right for you. Rely on Keifer Professional Search: Our client companies expect their search assignments to be filled as quickly as possible. That’s why companies covering a wide scope of disciplines and industries rely on Keifer Professional Search to meet their staffing needs.

When your Keifer Professional Search consultant locates a position that matches your goals and background, you’ll received critical data and special services.
These “Keys to Successful Interview” include:

A thorough overview of the interviewing company.

A comprehensive description of the available position.

An explanation of how the position will benefit you.

Assistance in preparing a professional presentation of yourself and your background.


The Self-Evaluation Process
Before you set out on your search for a new position, an objective self-evaluation is important to help you make the best presentation possible during your interview. Besides needing professional skills, companies have different corporate cultures and look for employees with different personality types.
So ask yourself:
Am I a self-starter?
A team player?
Do I take directions well? Do I listen and communicate well?
Do I prefer others to take the lead
Where do I fit in the scheme of things?

Next, make a list of your strengths and skills. Study it carefully so that when you meet with the hiring official, you’ll feel at ease describing both the experience you bring and the contribution you can make to the organization. This attribute list is also a powerful tool in helping you to build your resume.


The All Important Resume
Your resume should provide a brief employment history that outlines your responsibilities and achievements at each position. You should also include your education, any notable honors and professional extracurricular interests. Make your resume a thumbnail profile, not an epic recitation. It’s your secret weapon to catch the hiring official’s interest and secure an interview.


Steps to Success – Resume
Keep it brief. Your resume should be no longer than two pages.
Your resume is a vehicle to attract the hiring official’s interest. Include just enough information to create an interview opportunity.

Do it with style. The type of job and industry you’re interested in determines the resume’s appearance. If you’re seeking any position in engineering, accounting, or upper management, employ a conservative presentation on plain white or off-white, good quality stock paper with simple typeface. And, make sure all of your resume copies are laser printed.

Detail and format are critical. Neatness counts. Typographical errors, poor spelling, and faulty grammar are unacceptable. Leave wide margins so the interviewer can make notes before, during, and following your meeting. How your resume impresses the hiring official will make all the difference in getting you the interview.

Accentuate the positive. Your resume should present your professional background in the most positive manner. Use strong, confident language to describe your achievements. For example, “As the chief manufacturing engineer, I redesigned our assembly-line process, cutting production time by 20% and this increased profits by project sector by 15%.” Or “As senior account supervisor, I brought in seven new clients and increased existing client business by 25%. These efforts boosted the agency’s profitability by more than 15% over the previous year.” Use action-oriented words such as directed, established, created, designed, produced, developed, throughout your resume to Sell Yourself! Think of your resume as a sales piece for your most important product – You!

Less is more. Never include age, height, weight, marital status, and other extraneous details that will distract from more critical content. Military service is only important if it’s related directly to the position you’re seeking. Salary requirements aren’t appropriate, either; this is usually discussed at the interview stage.

Perfection counts. It may take a couple of drafts to turn your resume into your ideal sales tool. Examine your first draft carefully, then refine it. Proofread it carefully. Have someone else proofread it, too. Get another opinion on its content and presentation. Now make sure it answers “yes” to the following important questions:

Does it effectively describe your background?

Does it highlight your strong points and accomplishments?

Is it honest and accurate?

Is it complete, yet concise?

Is the format clean and attractive?

Is it a successful sales piece?

Does it focus on your VALUE to your other employers?

Does it make you stand out from the crowd?


Interview Preparation
Once your Keifer Professional Search consultant schedules an interview for you with a prospective employer, it’s important that you be well-prepared. Good preparation instills confidence and boosts your ability to conduct an impressive interview, and eventually receive an offer.
We’re back to the strategy of “Selling Yourself.” You may be a master in your chosen profession – absolutely brilliant in your job performance. But if your interview style is perceived to be less than dazzling, the position will go to someone with stronger interviewing skills.

Get the Facts. Learning about the interviewing company will help you prepare your strengths and achievements effectively and increase the odds that the job will be yours.

It’s no surprise that people are pleased that you’re aware of who they are and what they do. That’s another reason why it’s smart to prepare yourself with specifics about the interviewing company. Know the nature of their business, office locations, all of their divisions and number of employees.

If the company is publicly-held, check its Dun & Bradstreet listing or Moody’s Directory at the local library. These reference resources can provide comprehensive background information.

Make a list of questions you’ll ask during the interview.
the interview is an exchange between you and the interviewer. Be prepared to answer and ask pertinent questions. Through this interrogatory process, you’ll discover whether the position provides the compensation and opportunities for advancement you require.

Some probing questions you may ask, include:

What are the position’s primary responsibilities? (Compare with the information provided by your Keifer Professional Search consultant.)

Why is the position available? (Newly created? Vacated? Termination?)

What type of learning curve is expected?

Who will train you in the new position? How long?

What are you looking for in the person you hire for this position?

Who else will you interview with (If anyone)?

How soon do they expect to make a decision? Strategies for Success: Interviewing The Right Answers
During your interview, you’ll be asked a wide variety of questions. Be prepared for some surprises and, maybe, some curve balls. Anticipate the following:

What are your professional goals?

What do you know about the company?

What’s your major weakness?

What has been you favorite responsibility in previous positions?

Tell me about your last boss: What was he/she like to work for?

Are you willing to relocate?

Why should we hire you?

The Tricky Questions
If your resume reflects a lot of “job-hopping,” you’ll probably be asked about this. A positive explanation is both plausible and appropriate. Stress the attractive/beneficial aspects of each move: Better opportunity; higher salary; better location (office closer to home); flexible time was offered. Keep the focus on seizing an opportunity, without appearing to lack loyalty of dedication. This is tough, but it can be done.
You may be asked about the “worst” position or boss you’ve had. It’s always best to phrase your answer positively. For instance, if a previous supervisor tended not to follow through or delegate well, you should emphasize that you learned to get the information you needed to accomplish the task.

You may be asked about your ability to deal with stress and conflict? Answer that, although during any long-term work environment conflicts inevitably occur, good communications can resolve problems to everyone’s satisfaction. Explain that stress can be part of everyday life in a work environment. Mention practical ways that you alleviate stress through exercise, hobbies, etc. We know we don’t live in a perfect world.

But when it comes to interviewing, the fewer negatives the better. If you’ve had an unpleasant boss in the past, or, the company’s work environment was difficult, it’s best left unsaid or neutralized. Also, try to avoid salary discussions during the first interview. Your Keifer Professional Search consultant will coach you on the difficult salary questions throughout the interview process.


The Interview
Once your Keifer Professional Search consultant has secured you an interview, it’s up to you to sell yourself to the prospective employer. As a result of your diligent preparation and rehearsal, you should feel totally confident and prepared for your interview presentation. The following are just a few things to keep in mind before and during the interview:

Your physical appearance is initially as important as your interviewing skills and credentials.

Dress attractively, but conservatively, even if you tend to be more flamboyant normally.

Men should wear a well-tailored, solid colored suit (preferably dark blue or gray), a solid, neutral shirt, a striped or solid colored tie, dark, well-polished shoes, and black or navy socks. And don’t forget to get a good haircut.

Women should wear a business suit or tailored dress with a jacket, medium-heeled, closed pumps, and hose in a neutral color. Avoid frivolous jewelry and have your hair done in a conservative style.

First impressions count.
Be punctual. Arriving five or ten minutes early is fine, but no earlier. Arriving too early and you can appear to put pressure on the interviewer. If it seems you’ll be late, even if it’s only five or ten minutes, be sure to call with an explanation. If it’s feasible, make a test run to the interview location, before your meeting. Check out the parking facilities, correct entrance to the office, etc. And, if your interview is during rush hour, allow for extra travel time.

If you complete an application before the interview, remember that salary shouldn’t be discussed until after an offer is made or is imminent. Leave that section of the application blank.

When the interviewer greets you, offer a smile, a firm handshake (not a knuckle-breaker, of course) and look him/her straight in the eye. Making eye contact establishes your confidence.

Elaborate. Your resume is the “sales tool’ that got you the interview. The interview is your opportunity to expand upon your resume’s information and sell yourself. Say enough to get your point across without over answering.

Don’t inquire about benefits (vacation time, benefit plans, bonuses, etc.) on the first interview. You should concentrate your discussion on the position’s responsibilities and future growth potential. The interviewer will mention benefits when he/she feels it is appropriate.

If you’re offered the position and it meets your expectations, accept it! If you’re ambivalent, don’t refuse the offer outright. Thank them enthusiastically and ask for some time to consider. This will give you time to think about it and to discuss any concerns with your Keifer Professional Search consultant. Your Keifer Professional Search consultant can often negotiate in your favor on conditions that might prevent you from accepting the offer.

If you’re not offered the position at the interview, be realistic. Frequently, other key people must be consulted, before the offer is extended. Or, the hiring official may want to discuss your candidacy further with your Keifer Professional Search consultant. Also, other candidates may be scheduled for interviews, and the hiring official may want to complete that process before making a decision.


Following Up
After your interview, follow up immediately with a letter to the interviewer (or interviewers). Whether you’ve been offered the position or are still under consideration; this serves to strengthen your position in terms of professionalism.
The letter should convey thanks for the opportunity to interview and emphasize your enthusiasm for the position and the company.
Include any thoughts about the position’s responsibilities and what additional contributions you can make to the organization that may not have been discussed in the interview.
Close your correspondence by stating that you look forward to further discussion about the opportunity.

If a second interview was mentioned, say that you’ll follow up with a phone call within a couple of days to schedule that meeting. Get your letter in the mail the same day or the day following your interview.

In addition to composing your “thank you” note, it’s very important to contact your Keifer Professional Search consultant. He or she has been doing most of the legwork for you, up until the interview stage.

Immediately after the interview, call your Keifer Professional Search consultant to provide comprehensive feedback on how the interview went. This will give your Keifer Professional Search consultant an accurate recap to help plan a follow-up approach with the hiring official.

Your Keifer Professional Search consultant will coordinate the hiring process by arranging any subsequent interviews, salary negotiation and relocation requirements, establishing a starting date, and, resolving any open points in terms of questions on either side of the process.

Work closely with your Keifer Professional Search consultant, follow the advice given and the procedures suggested. These strategies can be your key to a more successful and satisfying professional future.