[oclug] [OT] jobsearch 104 (final)
rod at giffinscientific.com
rod at giffinscientific.com
Fri Aug 9 12:15:03 EDT 2002
Last section folks.
There are a few simple rules for interviews that if you follow, you will increase your chances at landing a job. That, by the way is the goal of the interview, not the resume.
Interviews may consist of a single interview, and a decision, or a number (usually 3) interviews and a decision. At any one of the interviews, or even at a single interview, be prepared for a “board” interview.
A board interview is where more than one person is asking questions, and you have almost no chance to control the atmosphere of the interview. Some mistakes people have made in board interviews. Sigh. I actually know someone who brought a piece of paper and a pen to a board interview, and wrote each answer down before presenting them. Don’t do that. Instead, look directly at the person asking the question while they are asking it. (Note: Do not look directly into their eyes if there is a cultural reason not to. Some First Nations cultures take that as a threatening gesture.) While answering, spend about half of the time looking at the person who asked the question, the other half split evenly between the other people on the board. If you don’t know the answer to a specific technical question, say so. If you don’t know, but you remember or know where to look it up, say so. These are usually the toughest interviews you will ever have, and often also include a written examination. The board members often try to out do each other with the toughness of their questions. Be positive throughout, and smile and thank the interviewers once you are through the ordeal.
In one of a short series of interviews, keep in mind that if you do well on the first interview they may call you for a second. That means you’re “still alive”. But you can be sure that if they call you for a third interview, the only thing you can do is screw up. They’re generally calling you for the third interview because a positive decision is being made in your favour – they are now interested in some details about what you would expect.
In all interviews, you should dress appropriately. You have a fraction of a second to make a good first impression, and it’s unlikely that you can change a bad impression during the time of an interview. It’s possible, just unlikely. Wear a business suit to the interview, and only remove the jacket if the environment is really informal. If you remove your tie, only undo the top button of your shirt. This projects a professional image. And for heaven’s sake, SMILE.
When you enter the interviewer’s office, try to take note of something in the office with which to strike up a conversation. Coincidentally, interviewers are often as nervous as the interviewee, and need an icebreaker. If you can provide that, you’re off to a good start. Also, sometimes people need to be “stroked”. Taking notice of something that the interviewer is interested in, and making a positive comment about it will generally score you a couple of points in your favour.
Know your resume intimately, in case questions are asked. Know how long you spent working with each technology – and if it’s on your resume, be prepared to demonstrate some level of knowledge. Taglibs, for instance, are not Java programs, they are tag definition libraries. If J2EE/JSP is in your resume, you better know that.
It helps immensely if you review and keep up to date with technologies you used to work on, while you are unemployed, especially in the IT sector, where things can advance tremendously in 1 year. In 1991, I interviewed for a position at a fairly large local computer dealer for a position as a service manager. They asked during the interview if I was a CNE, except that I wasn’t really aware of what CNE stood for. Ironically, two years previously, I’d held a series of 12 seminars for Novell’s engineers and architects that they all had to attend in order to work on NetWare. The seminars were on the evolution of Ethernet technologies. Here I was, one of the guys who helped ensure that Novell’s own software development team had the basic knowledge required to build network systems, and I was being turned down for a job because I didn’t know what a CNE was. It made little sense to try to explain after the fact that I didn’t require a CNE because I was already an expert.
Try to keep your answers focused on the question that was asked. If the person wants to chat, they will, but let them initiate that after the interview has started. People tend to either fill in too much detail, or not enough detail when answering. Oh, one other thing, if a question is asked that you know the answer for, or an opinion is being offered by the interviewer, smile and nod your head. Lean forward during the interview to express interest. Actually, if you are interested, you will already be leaning forward slightly. That’s human nature. Don’t lean so far you fall onto the desk. I’ve seen that.
After the interview has ended, thank the interviewer. Shaking hands is mandatory, think of it right away as soon as it’s apparent the interview is over stand up and offer your hand. Say “thank you”, and ask directly when you might expect to hear from them. If you don’t hear from them by the date specified, or 5 business days later which ever comes first, always call them to “touch base” with them about the interview. If they have made a negative decision, ask what the negative decision was based on, and what you can do to improve next time. If there has been a positive decision that they haven’t got around to telling you about – you’d be surprised how often this happens – Don’t gush. Just thank them, and ask when it would be appropriate to finalise the deal. – and oh yes if this happens, congratulations you just graduated from Job Search with honours.
There’s a lot more I could write on this subject, but there’s not much more I can say that you won’t learn from the What Color is your Parachute book, and website for starters, or the school of hard knocks if you prefer to learn that way.
Getting your resume off to a good start is the first step, and the one that most people mess up royally. I don’t have a great deal of time to look at resumes myself at the moment, but if you make it available to me I might be able to either do so, or get someone knowledgeable to look at it for you. It depends on a number of factors, specifically right now something called BSE.
Good luck in your job search.
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