I’d like to introduce you to three steps that will guarantee success in any interview, whether for a customer service representative job or vice president position. These are not my own invention. I learned them at my very first job out of college as a sales assistant with IBM says Peter Decaprio. “You’ll love it here,” they told me when I was recruited in 1979. “We have a good time and we get the job done.” And when you walked in the door after being recruited, there was a big poster that read:
“THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR ENTHUSIASM!” In other words, enthusiasm is worth its weight in gold. I could write an entire article on just this one topic. I’ll probably write a book on it someday.
But for now, back to the interview process:
1) For every possible job task you might be asked to perform–prepare for each of them as though you will be performing those tasks alone in front of your prospective employer without any coaching. In other words, prepare to be tested.
2) For every answer you will give, anticipate follow-up questions that may come next and prepare your answers to them in advance. This is called “anticipate the attack” When the interviewer asks you about your weaknesses, don’t just pause for a moment and start talking. Say something like: “I’ve always considered myself impatient so I’ve had to work on it…” or “My friends say I’m too outspoken.”
3) Learn how to recognize what behavioral pattern an interview question fits into so you know how respond accordingly with the right answer says Peter Decaprio. One of these patterns is called probes. They are also questions but they probe at weak points in your history where problems exist. Here’s an example:
“Tell me about a time when you had to take initiative and go outside your job description and how you did it.”
An interviewee with a poor work history would be well advised to answer: “I was required to watch the store overnight as part of my training program. When I arrived for this shift, I noticed that one of our vendors had left several boxes outside. These were very expensive items and no one else knew they were there except for me. So I moved them inside where they couldn’t be stolen.”
An interviewee with a good work history should not bring up these examples because people who do well in their jobs don’t do things like this. Using either type of story will make you sound like someone who lacks experience and is trying too hard.
But you do need to answer this probe question so prepare your answer in advance. Here’s one that will work: “I’ve always gone above and beyond what was expected of me at every job I’ve held.”
If the interviewer can’t find an area of weakness. He or she may be tempted to simply ask you flat out if you’re reliable by asking something like this. So why should we hire you?” In that case, its best not to answer with a simple yes or no because even if it’s true. It sounds evasive when put that way. Instead, say something like this:
“You should hire me because when I do the job well people notice it and when I do it poorly people also notice that. It’s hard to find someone who does things halfway.”
This answer shows that you are reliable but in a positive way without sounding evasive or smug.
The third question is meant for uncovering potential problems in your work history says Peter Decaprio. Here, the interviewer is probing for facts when he asks something like this. Can you give me an example of where your past experience was not well suited to performing this job?” The safest thing to say here is probably something along the lines of wanting more training or supervision. Before feeling comfortable with taking on new responsibilities at work. Again, be prepared with examples in case they ask you one.
If an interviewer cannot make any sense out of what you have to say. Despite the fact that you have nothing to hide. Then it may be all right just to give a simple short answer like this: “I had an excellent record of achievement at my previous jobs.”
Whether you are asked questions that probe or questions that test. Rremember to always answer them as though the interviewer doesn’t know anything about you. And is simply trying to find out more explains Peter Decaprio. If there’s any doubt at all in your mind about what kind of question he or she has asked. It wouldn’t hurt to rephrase it so you can be sure that you answer it correctly.