Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ace any (non-technical) interview

Ever wonder how to ace an interview? Seriously, walk in, sit down and blast through the questions and walk out feeling like a million bucks? Well, it CAN be done and you can do it. I will say, this advice does NOT pertain to technical interviews......those are a whole different animal, more on that in a later post so for now consider this advice for most any "non-technical" role.

Here's how you do and there are only two things you need to do.

1) Answer questions with detailed, specific, and relevant answers - Simple right? You'd be surprised. If someone asks you "Tell me about a time you were proud of your work"....give the a specific example, cite the company, the project, the folks you worked with, how you did it and why you were proud. This is called "Behavioral Based Interviewing"....and it's very powerful if you know what you are doing. Most people ask these questions because they sound good. You can ace them by being prepared. Have specific examples in mind before you interview so when you get asked these questions you can quickly gather your thoughts and ace it.

I've asked these types of questions for years and although they are not perfect...good candidates can fire back specific answers that really get to the meat of the question. You can find a bunch of sample questions here - and by searching for "behavioral based interview questions" on your favorite search engine..ahem, Google.

2) Leverage your experience to fill in the gaps in your experience - What? Is that even a sentence? Let me explain. Let's say I'm interviewing for a role as a Biotech Recruiter. HR Manager asks me "Jeff, tell me about your experience recruiting computational biologists?" Well, I've never done that. Pretty sure I could, but have never done it. So here's the deal, you don't say "Well, I've never done that but I haven't done it before." BAD ANSWER!! A great answer would be this " Well, over the last 10 years I've been recruiting some of the best software engineers on the planet. I order to do this I have to spend a lot of time networking and really learning the engineering community. By doing that I've learned that in order to attract top tier technical talent you need to really explain the opportunity and why it could be a good fit for them. So while I've never hired computational biologists, I have been hiring some of the best talent in my current industry and I'm confident that my recruiting skills are transferable to the biology market"

Make sense? Let's face it, if you are in the interview your skills are at least CLOSE to a fit for the job. Your task as the candidate is to use your experience to your advantage and allay any fears the interviewer has about your background to prove you are a great fit for the role.

So there you have it, two HUGE tips this week. Detailed, specific and relevant answers and if you get asked about something you know is a weakness, use another detailed specific answer from your past to turn that weakness into a strength.

Until next time, good luck and let me know how I can help in the search!