Posts tagged #Interview

Interviews: Balancing Independence & Working as a Team

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Most companies desire candidates who are comfortable working alone and with a team. After all, there will be times that you need to do both. This is why one of the most asked interview questions is, “Do you prefer to work independently or on a team?” This question is meant to unveil your personality and to get a glimpse into how you would fit in with their team.

Why Balance is Important

There are times when you must work as a team – let’s say you have a deadline and there’s no way to complete it solo. Or perhaps your work involves other departments at the company. You must feel comfortable communicating with other team members to effectively complete the task.

On the other hand, there will be times when you just need to put your head down and complete your responsibilities for an impending deadline.

Since both will be required at the job, hiring managers want to make sure you’re equally able to tackle work this way on their team.

So, do you prefer to work independently or with a team?

How to Approach the Interview

Regardless of your preferred method, you must be able to gracefully answer this very pointed question. Here are a few ways to answer this question effectively:

“I tend to be more productive when working independently. However, when tasks require more collaboration and different perspectives, I prefer working with a team.”

“I’m comfortable working alone and with a team depending on the situation and type of work.”

“I have experience working in both ways and I find productivity with each.”

These are great lead-ins. Be ready to back up these statements with an example of when you successfully worked solo and with a team. “Give me an example” is an inevitable follow-up question.

Practice answering, “Do you prefer to work independently or with a team?” using these above responses or whatever feels genuine to you. Then, briefly provide examples. Practice makes perfect so you can nail the interview!

If you’re actively job searching and want to perfect your interview skills, resume, or want to overhaul your job search strategy completely, we’re here to help.

At The Wilbanks Consulting Group, we help professionals in all stages of their careers find their dream job, land their dream job, and continue to thrive in their career.

Posted on July 9, 2019 and filed under Career, Interviewing.

How Much Personality Should You Bring To An Interview?

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During the interview process, there can be a fine line between showing your personality and showing a little too much. Sure, you want to show the hiring manager you’re a good cultural fit but you don’t want to appear like you’re catching up with friends at a party. So, where is that line and how do you know where you stand? Here are some guidelines to help you be yourself within professional boundaries.

Consider the Company and Industry

Context is everything. When you research the company, see what type of culture they have. Is it a casual start-up with ping pong tables and dogs in the office? Or is it a large corporate company where everyone wears suits and blazers every day? Based on this, you can determine how much of your personality to reveal. Startups often mean working long hours and possibly weekends to meet the demands of a new business, so the hiring manager will want to ensure you’d fit in with the team during long work weeks. On the other hand, an established corporation may need you to portray a sophisticated demeanor at all times because of frequent client visits.

Be Aware of Body Language

During the interview, the hiring manager will be looking for subtleties that make you stand out. If you approach them with a smile and handshake, you appear confident and professional. On the other hand, if you look down with your arms crossed, you appear disinterested and unapproachable. Mind your body language during interviews: sit tall, speak confidently and avoid nervous habits like biting your nails, tapping your foot, and using excessive filler words.

Avoid Controversial Topics

Regardless of how casual the interview is, don’t bring up controversial topics like religion, political views, or social issues.

Above All, Be Professional

Always act with the utmost professionalism. Be polite, courteous and humble. If you have to consider whether something is professional or not, it’s probably not.

Interviewing is an art that can be learned. If you’re considering changing careers and need guidance in the best responses to interview questions, we’d love to hear from you. Our team at The Wilbanks Consulting Group helps individuals with everything from search strategy and resumes to interview preparation and offer negotiation. Contact us to learn more.

Posted on April 30, 2019 and filed under Interviewing, Career.

The Most Important Person You Need To Impress During An Interview

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Do you know who the most important person to impress during an interview? While it is extremely important to impress your interviewer, impressing the secretary or assistant who is helping you is perhaps even more important.

Secretaries and assistants usually handle emails, scheduling, and are typically your first point of contact. Although it can be very easy to overlook them because they may seem unassuming behind their desk, they are the gatekeeper to the entire organization and are paid to weed you out. Leaving a good impression matters because secretaries and assistants can hold more responsibility and influence than most people assume. They absorb everything and filter out what’s important for their boss. Oftentimes, these are the positions that are most trusted in the company.

Showing that you are professional in all circumstances and to everyone, despite their job description, can be the key to getting hired. The following pointers can help ensure you leave a positive lasting impression with the most important person - the assistant or secretary!

  • Know and use their name (Ms. Smith, Mr. Johnson, etc.)
  • Arrive 10-15 minutes prior to the interview time.
  • While you wait, keep your phone out of sight.
  • Be polite and friendly.
  • Keep good posture and body language.
  • Be sure to thank them and say goodbye on your way out.

Remember, they have a relationship with the hiring manager and will reveal if you were rude or unprofessional. Make a positive and lasting influence on the receptionist and it might help your chances of success with the company; create a negative impression and there is a good chance your future with them has reached its end.

For more interview Dos and Don’ts, read this quick guide.

Posted on May 23, 2018 and filed under Interviewing.

5 Tips For Preparing For A Phone Interview

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Many companies conduct phone interviews before bringing in candidates for a face-to-face meeting. These “screen interviews” save time and money from the company's’ perspective, providing an opportunity to weed out candidates who aren’t a good match quickly without much investment.

Practice phone etiquette in every conversation you have so that it comes naturally. How you say hello, how you say goodbye, and your manners throughout the conversation speak volumes about your professionalism. Some questions a phone interviewer will be asking themselves are:

  • Are they courteous and polite or do they come across gruff and cold?

  • Do they talk over me or interrupt frequently?

  • Did they make the effort to make this call a priority by finding a quiet place to talk?

  • Did they miss the initial call? What does their voicemail portray about their professionalism?

To knock your upcoming phone interview out of the park, these five tips will set you up for success:

  1. Treat it just like a face-to-face interview. One of the biggest mistakes candidates make is to think they “just” have a phone interview. Even if the phone interview is an HR screening, the person on the other side of the line has the power to immediately take you out of the running for the position. Take a phone interview just as seriously as you would a face-to-face interview.

  2. Find a quiet space with no distractions. If possible, get out or range of your dog barking, your kids playing, turn off the TV, etc. If you aren’t able to be in a completely quiet space, give a heads up to the interviewer that there may be some background noise. It will be less distracting if they know to expect it.

  3. Make sure phone service is reliable. There are many places in buildings, and maybe even your home, where phone service may cut in and out. Don’t walk around during your interview to avoid static or dropped calls. A good way to test the best place to have the phone interview is to call a friend from the spot before hand and ask them how you sound.

  4. Check your email several times in the minutes leading up to your interview. You never know when something might come up or if someone is running behind. Any last minute updates will be sent to your email, keeping you in the loop.

  5. Be ready to take notes. Being on the phone is a bit more challenging than face-to-face because it’s easier to get distracted. Taking notes will help you to focus on what the interviewer is saying and provides something for you to reference afterwards.

Phone interviews are important and you can secure a face-to-face interview with the proper preparation. If you have specific questions about the interview process, we’d love to help!

Posted on January 31, 2018 and filed under Interviewing, Search Strategy.

Avoid Being A Character In An Interview Horror Story

Interview

Congratulations! You applied for a great job and have been called in for an interview. You have stood out among the pile of resumes and have a very good shot of landing the job if you nail the interview. You were up against potentially hundreds of applicants. Now you are up against a much smaller pool of candidates. Three to five candidates is the average for a first round of interviews.

There are many things you should do to prepare:

  • Conduct mock interviews with a trusted peer or career coach to practice.

  • Select a conservative and professional outfit.

  • Get directions well before the meeting time so you know exactly where you are going. Be sure to add 30-45 minutes to your travel time, just in case. It’s always better to arrive early instead of late. You can review your notes in the lobby so you don’t arrive too early.

  • Gather the essential resources you’ll need to bring with you.

It’s not a long list, but these items are really important if you are to make the best possible impression.

There are many horror stories that hiring managers share about the interview process. Many are about what people bring - or do not bring - to the interview. To help you avoid being a character in an interview horror story, here is a simple list to help you pack your briefcase and make a great impression:

What to bring to an interview

  • Updated copies of your resume. We recommend at least five printed on resume quality paper.

    • Horror Story: One candidate was so nervous she couldn’t remember what was written on her resume and was unable to answer basic questions about her experience. Having a copy of your resume for your own reference is just as important as having it for your interviewer.

  • Notepad and pen. You don’t need to take notes on everything that is said, but be prepared to jot down something of importance at any time during the conversation. You won’t want to rely on memory to remember everything, especially if you are nervous. Also be sure to test your pen before the interview to make sure it works!

    • Horror story: A candidate came up with several additional examples of how she would add value to the company, but she didn't have her pen and paper for notes. After the interview, she stressed for hours about what additional information she wanted to provide in the follow up email.

  • Bottle of water. While the interviewer may offer you one, don’t assume it will be provided.

    • Horror story: A candidate had a tickle in her throat mid-interview so severe she couldn’t speak. The interviewer had to walk to the other side of the building to get her water, which interrupted the flow of the conversation and put the focus on the unfortunate event instead of her qualities as a potential candidate.

Do NOT bring to an interview

  • Your mother. While you may be chuckling, people have actually brought their mothers to interviews. If anything shouts unprofessional and immature; it’s bringing your mother!

  • Your pets. This seems like it’s common sense, but again, this has actually happened! Not everyone thinks cats are cute and dogs are fun. Many people are allergic or just don’t like animals. A job interview is not a place for pets.

  • Laptop. Unless the interviewer specifically requests you to bring your laptop, don’t. Using a laptop to take notes puts an obstacle in between you and the interviewer. They also can’t see what you’re actually doing on the screen, which may be distracting.

What is in your briefcase during an interview? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Posted on January 24, 2018 and filed under Interviewing.

Job Search and Interview Follow up Etiquette

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The waiting game is by far the worst part of looking for a job! You finally find a job posting that looks perfect for you. You spend time tailoring your application and resume. You are excited when you hit the “apply” button and then...nothing. For days and days.

When is it appropriate to follow up? Here are some tips to help you maintain a professional vibe while inquiring after two specific job search situations:

Job Application Status

The best case scenario is that you’ll initially receive an auto response, confirming that your application was received. A lot of companies don’t have this automation, however, so you may not receive a confirmation.

After submission, the ratio for how many jobs you apply for to how many you’ll hear back from is, sadly, low. Many job postings receive hundreds of applications and the HR department or hiring manager is overwhelmed with sorting through the responses. Put yourself in the shoes of the interviewer: if all 150 applicants followed up with a phone call, it would be quite annoying. Instead, opt for a simple and quick email to the hiring manager. State that you applied for the job, wanted to make sure it was received, and are excited about the opportunity.

If you don’t hear back after this follow up, assume you did not move on to the interview stage. But don’t worry! Keep applying and don’t get frustrated. It’s all a part of the job search process.

Post Interview

If you receive an interview - congratulations! There are a two things you should do to follow up:

  1. Ask at the end of the interview what your expectations should be regarding hearing the outcome of the interview process. Are they hiring within the week? Will you hear one way or another? Is it OK for you to follow up if you don’t hear anything? Asking at the interview is not only appropriate, it ensures you are respecting their process and communicating in a way they prefer.

  2. Send a thank you note! If you need some pointers on how to do so, read Stand Out While Being Professional: Proper Thank You Notes.

We’d love to help you with all of your job search needs. Click here to view our career exploration services.

Posted on October 11, 2017 and filed under Interviewing, Search Strategy.

Stand Out While Being Professional: Proper Thank You Notes

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The art of the thank you note has lost it’s popularity over the decades. Today, thank you notes are typically reserved for wedding and graduation gifts. Even those have become generic, often missing the personal notes that make them meaningful. If you start writing hand written thank you notes, personally and professionally, you will make a lasting, positive impression!

In the workplace, thank you notes should be given for many reasons: thanks for a great first year, thanks for being a great boss, thanks for going out of your way to help me. A thank you note should always be sent to interviewers. Most people don’t send thank you notes. If they do, they usually send thank you emails. YOU should send a handwritten thank you note, personalized to your experience and the interviewer.  You’ll stand out among the other applicants if you do.

How to Write a Thank You Note

Hallmark provides a great structure for writing thank you notes here. We’ve adapted it for the interview process below.

#1: Greeting - Write the name of the person as they introduced themselves. “Dear Mr. Smith” or “Dear Larry”

#2: Give thanks - Say thank you immediately and clearly. “Thank you for the interview yesterday…”

#3: Specific, personalized details - If you learned something beneficial, are more excited about the position, found a common interest between you and the interview, say so!

#4: Look ahead - State that you are looking forward to hearing from them, seeing them at the second interview, or whatever timeframe was set when you were interviewed.

#5: Say thanks again - Add a little something new so you aren’t repeating what you’ve already said but expressing your gratitude. Something simple such as, “Thanks again for your time. You’ve solidified that XYZ would be a great place to call my work home!”

#6: Regards - “Sincerely” is the most appropriate in most situations, unless you know the interviewer well.

After you’ve written your note, you can put it in the mail or drop it off at the business you interviewed with (leave it with the front desk or secretary, if possible). You’re well on your way to standing out from the other interviewees. Even if you don’t get the job, there is a great chance they will remember you for other opportunities that may arise.

Posted on October 4, 2017 and filed under Interviewing.

A Quick Guide: 6 Interview Dos and Don’ts

The Wilbanks Consulting Group recently presented a whole workshop on Interview Illustrations: Highlight Your Value to the Texas Medical Center Community. While a simple blog post can’t begin to cover all those valuable nuggets of information, we can share some basic Dos and Don’ts for nailing that crucial interview.

BEST PRACTICES

1.       Bring Your Energy

Employers want to hire self-motivated, focused employees with energy and drive. To ensure that you demonstrate these qualities in your interview, get plenty of rest in the 2-3 nights ahead of an interview. Sleep debt builds up over time, so sleeping well for several nights in advance can help you overcome an unexpectedly sleepless night before the interview.

Once you are in the interview, show an appropriate level of enthusiasm—enough to convey your excitement for the position and the company, but not so much that you intimidate your interviewer. Oh, and don’t forget to smile!

2.       Arrive on Time

We recommend that you plan to arrive 30 minutes early—well in advance to allow time for traffic, parking, getting lost in the building, or any other issue that might cause you to be late. If you take public transportation, you may want to plan to arrive even earlier.

One benefit of planning to arrive early is that you won’t be late in case Murphy’s Law decides to interrupt as you make your way to the interview. However, if you arrive with ample time and no issues, being early allows you time to get in the right mindset and focus on your interview.

3.       Dress Appropriately

It’s always a good idea to dress to impress, though you will want to choose your attire appropriately based on the company’s culture. Well-groomed business casual may be just as good or better than a traditional “interview suit.” Err on the side of overdressing, because being underdressed will draw negative attention and distract from your value.

Your whole appearance will be taken in during the interview, so ensure that your clothes, shoes, and hair are in impeccable shape. Don’t wear something that shows signs of use or abuse (e.g., make sure your shoes are polished and not terribly scuffed up). Use an iron to press out any wrinkles or pay the dry cleaners if you are not confident in your ironing skills. Plan ahead, get a haircut, and make sure you are well groomed.

4.       Behave and Speak Professionally

As this is a professional interview, stick to the topics at hand. Avoid politically or socially charged topics. In addition, remember that professionals use business-appropriate language. Avoid slang, filler words, and sloppy speech habits.

 MISTAKES TO AVOID

5.       Talking Negatively of a Previous Employer

Talking negatively of a former employer reflects poorly on you. In addition, the world is a fairly small place—you never know whether an interviewer could be friends with your former employer. If you had a bad experience with a previous employer, be honest, but strategic—identify a concrete reason for your move. You want to leave a positive impression on the interviewer.

6.       Staring at the Wall

Eye contact with your interviewer conveys confidence in your abilities and helps to convince the interviewer of the truth of your statements. You don’t need to stare at your interviewer the whole time, but you do need to stay focused and maintain good eye contact. In addition, pay attention to body language, both that of your interviewer and your own. A good tip is to mirror what the hiring manager is doing in terms of demeanor, energy, and, sometimes, even the way the interviewer is sitting (i.e., leaning to one side or the other). These subtle cues can not only help the interview feel more relaxed, but can also help convince them that you fit in well with the organization.

Paying attention to this quick guide of interviewing dos and don’ts will help ensure you make the best first impression on your interviewer. However, these are just the tip of the iceberg! We offer a variety of personalized services to dive into the details and truly prepare you for the interviewing experience. The most successful interviewees make a great first impression and then wow the company with succinct, clear explanations of their work experience.

Contact us to learn more about the different packages The Wilbanks Consulting Group offers to help you prepare for and excel in interviews! Biomedical science and healthcare students, trainees, postdocs, and professionals can take our WCG Online Academy “Interview Illustrations” course anytime, on-demand by clicking here: http://www.wilbanksconsulting.com/wcg-online-academy/.

Amanda Y. Hendrix
Expert Consultant, The Wilbanks Consulting Group

Posted on April 20, 2016 and filed under Interviewing.