I recently read the following letter in a business advice column;
“I had an interview for a job and I did really well until this question, ‘What do you know about our company?’ I answered truthfully (not a whole lot!) but I have never been asked this question before, so I was unprepared. It was the last question so I think I left the interview on a bad note. How can I recover from this?”
The advice columnist was very nice and suggested the interviewee send a thank you note with some info about the company he had learned since the interview. Nice idea, but here’s a better idea…be prepared!!! I know that looking for a job now is vastly different from when I graduated from college 15+ years ago. Now you send resumes online and apparently applicants are googled to find out if the have a criminal record or a MySpace page which states how much they love staying out until 3:30 am playing a gig with their band, Corporate America Blows. But some things have had to stay the same, like the questions are about you (which you can answer presumably well, as you’ve lived with yourself for more than 2 decades), and how you would help the company for which you are applying to work, and about the company itself!!!!
So, with this in mind, allow me to help the new crop of college grads wondering what kind of questions get asked. So, here’s a quick tutorial on old-time, entry-level job interviews…
Interviewer: Name one positive and one negative thing about yourself, Cari.
Cari: The BEST thing about me is my positive outlook. I was blessed with a happy disposition and it’s a rare day I’m not smiling from the minute I wake up. My husband once said I could have the four horsemen of the apocalypse as my roommates and I’d find something good to like in each one. I just do that; I always see the good side.
As far as a negative about me, I would say I am so busy seeing the positive side of everything that I sometimes miss the evil camping out on the back patio. The bad things people do, when I hear about someone’s plan to forge signatures or embezzle or take over the world, I am dumbfounded. Wow! How did they THINK of that? And because it’s not even part of how I see the world, sometimes I miss the nasty ulterior motive someone has.
(Note: See what I did there…turned the negative into a positive, as in ‘I’m so busy being me, I don’t have time to strike out on the moral low-road’.)
Often the interview will end with the following question…
Interviewer:Do you have any questions for me?
Cari:I do, actually. What are the goals for the company/department/division this year?
This is a great standard question to ask because everyone has goals, right? AND, if you hear something that fits in well with your personality (like say the interviewer confides the goal is for the company to hire more women who are 5’5″, have blue eyes and are named Cari), this gives you another opportunity to market yourself (“why, I am a woman who is 5’5″, has blue eyes and is named Cari!”).
Btw, the only time this didn’t work is when I was applying to be the motor pool coordinator for Inyo County. I asked my knock-em-dead question and the interviewer said, “Goals? No goals except making sure the cars have gas in ’em when an employee needs one” So, do try to tailor your answers to the company or department with whom you are interviewing :-).
Interviewing for a job is like working with clients in real estate. You tell them about yourself, you tell them what you know about the market, you tell them what’s in it for them, and then you ask about their goals. But you’re always, always prepared.