Over the past few months many readers expressed concerns regarding initial interviews. From what I have been hearing, many get an initial interview but that’s as far as it goes. No second interview. No job offers. In effect: Nothing but darkness.
Based upon piles of research, interviews, and conference workshops, a key element to succeed during an interview comes down to one word: Character.
According to Merriam Webster, Character is defined as “attributes or features that make up and distinguish the individual,” and “the complex of mental and ethical traits marking and often individualizing a person.”
For the record: The intent of the initial interview is to determine company, cultural, and position fit.
Okay, so you’re asking, where does character come into play and isn’t it good enough that I can do the job? We’ll tackle the easy part of the question first: No, it’s not good enough that you can do the job. Doing the job is only one of many factors… so get over it.
Going directly to character, initial interviews evaluate your personality, thus the increase use of behavioral questions. Several topics beneath the character umbrella you should be aware of include:
* Trust: Can the company hold confidence in your ability to do the right thing?
* Dependability: Do you show up on time, everyday?
* Professionalism: How well will you represent the company, during and after hours?
* Courtesy: Are you friendly and respectful to all individuals you encounter, including the receptionist?
* Appearance: Hate to say it but the way you look affects outcomes. Do you look the part?
Violating the above, though often intangible, will cause harm to your initial interview. If you are being asked to come in for an initial interview but nothing more, the hurdle may be in the manner in which you represent character. With that in mind, let’s evaluate each of the above topics and resolve potential disconnections:
* Trust: The hiring agent wants you to detail a time where trust was tested. For example, did you ever work as a cashier? If so, how much money were you responsible for? If so, talk about that during the interview.
* Dependability: Do you have perfect attendance certificates or awards for being at work and on time? Employers want to know you will work every scheduled day. Perhaps a reference letter from a previous employer could address that issue… just saying.
* Professionalism: Work is no longer isolated to brick and mortar. With Facebook, Twitter, and a slew of other sites, companies don’t want insensitive or compromising images of their employees. While on this note, employers do filter social sites during the interview process. In other words, your Spring Break party photos may be damaging to your career.
* Courtesy: Nothing is more damaging than being rude to the receptionist or to a stranger in the elevator as you near the office. After all, the person riding the elevator with you just may be the owner. And yes, that does happen.
* Appearance: Most companies prefer the conservative look. If you have rings in the nose, mouth, tongue, or cheek, take them out immediately. The adage about how you are expressing individuality is so over-done, stop your whining and get over it.
There are many examples one can detail to showcase character. One of the most effective interview techniques is for you to develop short stories that highlight character. An easy way to arrange stories and prepare for the interview is to take advantage of the Performance, Action Result (PAR) method. The PAR method asks you to expand by following an easy format:
Problem (Briefly explain what was going on and how you were involved):
Action (Briefly explain what you did to resolve the problem):
Result (Briefly explain what happened and if possible use measurements):
For the record: Creating several PAR short stories will prove to be beneficial during interview sessions.
Hiring managers want you to be the right candidate. Giving them short stories, creating a discussion-like atmosphere, and believing in yourself may be the missing link between initial interview and the job offer.
If you would like additional information or insight about the interview and how to better prepare for your interview, send us your questions.
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Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
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