This is a guest blog post by Brian Howe.
1. Be unprepared…know the role you are interviewing for , basics about the company, their products (a general understanding is sufficient) and as much info about the interviewers as you can get (most of this information can be found on social media). I heard the story of a candidate interviewing with General Mills and was asked what his favourite General Mills product was. He knew they made cereal, so he named one of his favourites…Raisin Bran….a Post or Kellogg’s product, not General Mills.
2. Tell the interviewer you are nervous, not sure you can do the job, or identify other disqualifiers. When you interview you need to do the best you can and not point out any faults (there will be some, but if the interviewer doesn’t pick them out, all the better for you). An engineering candidate told me how he mentioned to the interviewer that he was nervous (mistake identifying this) and that this was his first interview (second mistake) to which the interviewer said he wouldn’t have guessed that if the candidate didn’t tell him. Another engineering candidate told the interviewer that he had never done the work they needed, but could try to do it if hired (he wasn’t hired. I don’t know of many engineering companies that don’t have some sort of training or onboarding program to ensure new hires are successful; most want the right background AND the confidence to conquer the tasks they are given.
3. Interrupt or change topics. Remember, this is their show, let them control it and direct it as they deem appropriate. There is a psychology behind this that if you interrupt them they will consciously (and also subconsciously) hold this against you and lessen your chances of them liking you. If they don’t like you, it will be really hard for them to give you a favourable report and pass you on to the next interview. So even if the interviewer starts talking about their favorite baseball team and how they have a chance to get to the World Series, you need to resist saying, “that is a great team…kind of like the one I led in Iraq when I was deployed and in charge of ….” By engaging in their conversation you are building rapport.
4. Fail to close the interview. When you are wrapping up the interview and it is clear that you are about to leave, make sure to express your interest in the role, how you’re a great fit, excited about it, and very interested in progressing to the next step in the process. If you don’t, you essentially wasted the last 30-60 minutes of time spent in the interview. Think of it this way: leaving an interview without thanking the interviewer and expressing your interest is like ending a first date by only saying “see you later” at her front door after you drop her of. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for her to call you for a second date. Psychology kicks in again and the girl assumes that you aren’t interested in her due to your quick departure and, not wanting to get hurt, convinces herself that she really didn’t like you all that much either. So again, don’t expect that follow-up interview (or date in this case) if you don’t close the interview.
5. Allow personal desires / family preferences to sabotage the interview. Too often I have engineering candidates step on their own feet and sabotage an interview by identifying personal information that the interviewer then uses to eliminate them from consideration. For instance, interviewing for a job in Georgia and telling the interviewer, “Yes sir, all my family is in Texas and we REALLY want to get back to Texas, but Georgia is definitely something we will consider.” Chances are the interviewer will view you as a flight risk for staying in Georgia and that will end your chances with that company right there. Another mistake I hear often, is mentioning young kids or a needy spouse when you know if there may be a lot of long hours or travel required. The interviewer may do you a “kindness” by eliminating you from consideration so that you will enjoy a better home/family life. Little does he know that you had worked this out with other relatives/friends and were really looking forward to this travel-heavy job where the scenery and work is always changing. Your best bet is to conduct the interview without mentioning family or family desires and win (or lose) the interview on your own merits.
About the writer Brian Howe:
Brian Howe is a former Air Force Captain and has been an officer candidate recruiter for Bradley-Morris (www.bradley-morris.com/bh) for 6 ½ years. For more helpful advice visit his Linked-in page at www.linkedin.com/in/brianhowe1 and his USAF Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AirForceOfficerCareers or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success