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Tips for Interviewing

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by SuperDuck, May 5, 2005.

  1. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    Here's the poop-

    I'll be interviewing at a pretty big engineering firm next Thursday. This is kind of a big deal for me - my first "career-type" professional interview, for a salary position as opposed to an hourly "job" type job.

    Any tips from those who have gone before me? Things NOT to do?

    Any help at all is appreciated.

    (btw- I'm assuming wearing a full suit goes without saying...?)
  2. powerslave

    powerslave Guest

    Feb 24, 2005
    United States
    have an answer for - Why should we hire you

    know your greatest strength, and be able to speak fluently in support of your well honed skills.

    recognize your weakest skills, and what you are actively doing to improve them.

    i'm sure someone else will add to this but there’s the basic start, :D besides wearing a suit
  3. Michael,
    Don't assume anything - I've been to interviews in shorts before. I'm a software engineer - that is sometimes expected. How did you land the interview? If it is though an agency, then ask them the following questions:

    1) What do I wear to the interview?
    2) What do you know about the client that could help me land the job?
    3) What are they looking for in an interviewee?

    A good agency will have answers to these questions and more. Since they want you to get the job, it is in their interest to help you land the gig!

    Since problem solving essentially defines what engineering is all about, make sure you take an aggressive problem solving attitude in with you. Acting like I'm Mr Cool - and I above all this - won't land you the job. You're there to help solve their problems - period.

    Last but not least, be yourself and be honest about if you really want the job. If the shoe doesn't fit . . . . .

    Good Luck!
    Mark F. Sanderson

  4. karrot-x

    karrot-x Banned

    Feb 21, 2004
    Omicron Persei 8

    * Laugh when they say duty.
  5. DaftCat


    Jul 26, 2004
    Medicine Hat
    I agree, and I also disagree. Don't act too eager and desperate for it. As he said, if the shoe fits...

    Some questions I've asked.

    Why is the position open?
    How many other candidates am I competing against?
    Am I being paid to think?

    Those questions I do NOT recommend to just anyone. It depends on how your rapport with the interviewer(s) seems to be going.

    Good luck!
  6. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    Thanks a lot. I had never even thought about that, and now I can guarantee that I will. :D

    The interview was not set up by an agency - one of my professors recommended me, and after a phone interview and seeing my resume, they wanted to set up a personal interview.

    Everything is good... keep it coming. :)
  7. Use your prof as a resource . . .ask him those questions I posed above . . . does he have a good relationship w/the HR person? Have him pose those questions . . . or call him/her yourself. A certain amount aggresiveness is good . . . but as mentioned before it shouldn't be tipped towards apparent desperation!

    Mark F. Sanderson

  8. crikker

    crikker Yooper Supporting Member

    Sep 25, 2004
  9. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    This is true. They almost always ask strengths and weaknesses. Also, they often ask questions like "Tell me about a time when..." This is often in relation to conflicts and how you resolved them, or perhaps how you had to do something unpleasant and how you handled it. Or it might be "Tell me about a time you worked together with other people as a team and what was your role in the team?" So just think up some examples of various situations you've been in be sure you can verbalize them and how you handled them.

    Think long and hard about your weaknesses and what your answer will be. Don't feed them a line of bull crap such as "Well my friends always complain that I analyze everything." In an engineering job that obviously wouldn't be a weakness and it's very transparent. This is one of the trickiest ones for me. I usually say something like, "Well, I'm not naturally an organizer/organized person but it's something I've improved on and am still improving on. blah blah blah"

    Make sure you pay attention to the details in your appearance, shine your shoes, make sure your shirt is ironed, if you have a watch that's nicer than the usual digital then wear it, get a haircut if you need one, make sure you've shaved well, wash that spot between your scrotum and anus etc... These aren't things that typically jump out but it adds to the overall appearance and can just visually give you an edge over the last guy. It sounds like the visual is the last thing that they just have no idea about yet so make a good impression. Gray or blue suit, blue or deep red ties are preferable. Don't pull out your favorite save the children or snoopy tie.

    Know that it's not the end of the world if you don't get it and that you're interviewing them just as much as they're interviewing you. Have a couple of thoughtful questions ready to ask them. Know about the company and what they're up to lately.

    I've had quite a few interviews and since I got out of college I've never had a job interview that didn't result in a job offer and these are all the things I've done. I'm on my fifth job now since '99. Just be yourself and be confident.

    That's all I can think of at the moment.

    brad cook
  10. +1

    I'm an executive manager with a global catering organisation and I interview most of the positions in my department.

    I always ask the "tell me about a time.." sort of question. usually it will be designed to put the interviewee in a situation that requires a thoughtful response. be prepared to have questions fired at you which will be testing your integrity, honesty, values and visions. I ask "what would you do if you caught a teammate stealing from the company", which has produced some very interesting responses!!

    Important!! KNOW something about the company you are applying with. Research the company a little and know a bit about what they are all about.

    Ask questions: Most of the people I interview NEVER ask how much they will be getting paid, but the ones that do usually get more of a chance. The way I see it, you SHOULD ask what you will be getting paid if successful. I would certainly want to know.

    Don't turn up 1 hour early - most interviews are scheduled on a timetable and companies don't want hoards of applicants sitting in the waiting room for hours on end. Be 10-15 minutes early only.

    Don't worry about appearing nervous - we expect that. Try to make eye contact.

    When you put a referree on your resume, please expect that they will be contacted. There is nothing more infuriating to me than having a candidate say "Please don't contact that referree because I haven't told them I'm looking for another job..." etc.

    At the end of the interview, say thanks, shake hands and make sure you have found out when you will be notified of the result.

    good luck!
  11. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    The most important ones to me (as an interviewer and interviewee):

    - Make eye contact. Look them in the eye while talking to them the entire time. If this is a foreign practice to you, work on it with someone before hand.

    - Be honest.

    - Approach the interview like you don't actually need the job.
  12. bassturtle


    Apr 9, 2004
    You over analyze everything.
  13. bassturtle


    Apr 9, 2004
    You can practice on me. I'm staring at my monitor now....
  14. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    1) Ask the person interviewing you why THEY work there.
    2) Don't ask about vacation, and days off.
    3) When they ask you "where do you see yourself in five years?", don't say some crap about having their job. They want to hear you say you are going to be the best engineer they have ever hired.
    4) Avoid word whiskers like "uhhh", "ummm", "and so", "and uh". Don't be afraid to collect your thoughts before you answer thoughfully.

  15. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA

    Great post, as a corporate training manager, I interviewed many people, and you'd be amazed at how poorly some people do. I echo all southpaw has said, and would add:

    First some basics:

    - Be early. Not obnoxious early. Anticipate traffic and the like. DO NOT under any circumstances be late.

    - As others have stated, have a strong appearance and handshake. Haircut, clean shaven, good breath, etc.

    - Bring extra copies of your resume and referrals. You shouldn't need it, but you never know. I had one situation where my admin lost the info, and it was nice to have the interviewee bring a copy. In this situation, I looked more like the idiot, but he scored points by being prepared.

    - Good eye contact. Be confident and self-assured. Be passionate.

    I really liked what southpaw said about knowing the company. So few people do this. You don't have to memorize the financial report, but you should know something about the company you're interviewing with.

    The "tell me a time" stories. Tell the story comfortably, with ease. Don't force it, don't stammer through it. It's okay to pause and think. It's okay to have to clarify something in your head. They're not expecting a robot. They want somebody with strong critical thinking skills, strong people skills, the ability to communicate ...

    Know the salary you expect to make. Understand that there will probably be haggling, depending upon the job. If you have earned a job, you've earned a job. After being offered the job, the offer won't be retracted if you ask for too much money, you'll simply be told that that wage isn't possible. Know what you should make, and ask for hire. In a past situation, I asked for a salary that the company wouldn't match, so I haggled an extra week of vacation instead, with success.

    - Be yourself. You're not that good of an actor, they'll see through a bad acting job.

    Good luck.
  16. tifa

    tifa Padawan Bassist

    Mar 8, 2005
    Blackburn, UK
    I'll probably be repeating some things, but here's some things that have helped me:

    - Always have evidence to back up what you say. If you say 'I am good at problem solving' or 'I have advanced IT skills', give them an example of when and how you used that skill in your job.

    -Smile! Sit up straight and try to relax your hands (I find this really hard) - rest them in your lap and DON'T cross or fold your arms, it looks defensive. If there is more than 1 interviewer, make sure you look at each person as you answer.

    -Make sure you research the organisation beforehand, preparation is essential- they may ask 'What do you know about us? Why did you choose us?' etc. This also gives you ideas for questions to ask at the end - this is also important, an interview should be a 2 way thing :)

    -Take care of the little things - hair tidy, teeth brushed, you're showered and smelling nice, clean shoes, ironed suit....

    and most of all, GOOD LUCK! :hyper:
  17. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    Yes, it's a weakness of mine.

    brad cook

    ps - Seriously though, in an old part time job this guy told me that he was going to be interviewing for accounting positions and when they asked him his weakness he was going to say "Well, my friends all tell me that I watch my money too closely," or some crap like that. He got pretty mad when I told him what a transparent load that was.
  18. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    Along with the grooming, take care of your hands. Don't leave dirt under your fingernails, your nails should be trimmed and your hands should be clean.

    It took me some time before I would freely admit with confidence that I'm an advanced Excel user (important in finance/mgmt reporting). If you have skills where you know you're above average that fits in with the job you're chasing make sure you point it out as part of your strengths.

    Be prepared to back it up though, some jobs will put you through a skill test. You might have to try to solve an engineering problem right there in front of them.
  19. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    Skills test. :eek: I better brush up I'm a few months out of school, and I'm a little rusty.

    RE: Salary - this job will require me to relocate across the country to California, where the cost of living is a lot higher. I'm assuming it's a given that I should expect them to cover the cost of moving, etc...? Should I ask for anything else? (i.e., assistance with housing while I find a place.) edit: I also know to ask about these things AFTER the offer has been made. ;)

    Thanks for all the input so far. I now know a lot more.
  20. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    I would, but your angry bass clef avatar is too intimidating. :D

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