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If you’ve ever wondered how to interview to knock their socks off, turns out there is a right way. If you’re in the midst of a career change, heading back to the workforce after some serious parenting years, or simply interviewing for that next rung on the corporate ladder, the following interview notes will help you in your pursuit. Here, Freeman shares her insider tips for wowing your interviewer.

The Phone Interview

Oftentimes, human resources will conduct initial phone interviews. There are no wrong answers. I see a resume as a blueprint—there’s no way to demonstrate everything you’ve done. Phone interview is simply trying to find out more about the candidate as a person and match them up with the corporate culture to see if it’s a good fit. It’s best to be honest in order to determine that.

Provide Examples—And Stay Out of the Woods

Be as detailed as possible. You may say you were responsible for in “bringing in $10 million account.” But how so—exactly? Were you on a team? If I don’t get the answers I’m looking for, I’ll drill down to get as many details as possible. The more I have to pull answers out of you, the more I make a mental note that it’s hard to get this person to communicate.

Stay out of “the woods”: “I would do this” or “I wouldn’t have done that.” Don’t make it a hypothetical situation. Use concrete examples and say, “I have done this.”

Teamwork Is Good Work

It’s good to be part of a team. I like when people tell me “I was part of a team.” It’s one of the keywords I look for—that you work well on a team. Even it’s an individual position (e.g., sales), a candidate still needs a team mentality.

Prove You Know How To Dress For the Position

Dress code depends on your environment. The West Coast is different than the East Coast. It’s always a good idea to ask before you come in. If you don’t feel comfortable asking HR, call the receptionist and inquire. Generally, a tie and sports jacket is fine for men; a dress shirt and skirt or dress pants works for women.

Even if they tell you business casual, step it up a little. May be over-dressed, but it’s worth it. I’ve had people show in flip-flops, Crocs, just about anything. Women in tank tops, sundresses. Men in shorts. And despite a company’s casual Friday policy, never wear jeans to an interview.

When you’re working for the company, from receptionist to CEO, you are representing the company. Let me know in the interview that you know how to dress.

Unemployment and Past Firings

It’s okay to address firings. I’d much rather have someone say, “I was terminated, and here is the reason I was given” and move on. Don’t make up excuses or bash your former employer—I might know that person!

Money Talks

Money should not come up in the very first conversation. Let the process develop a little. If there are some candidates that are over by a few thousand dollars, I’ll still interview them. I’ve gone to bat many times for someone I believe is going to be a rock star for the team, to meet that number for that person.

What it Means When They Say You’re “Overqualified”

Up until the economy changed, I never believed anyone could be overqualified. But then you started to see a pattern: You may have an accounts payable that pays $15 an hour, and an unemployed CEO who will take it—but they’ll leave as soon as something better comes along. To avoid turnover, we won’t place that person.

The Follow Up

I think it’s nice to receive a thank you—these days an email is just as acceptable as a written note. If I never hear from you, I’ll think you’re not interested.

At the conclusion of the interview, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask, “When you do you think you’ll be making a decision?” when you get home, send email of thanks, say, “I look forward to hearing back from you in the next few weeks.” If you don’t hear anything, send an email after a few weeks along the lines of, “Just touching base and wanted to let you know I’m still interested in this position.”

How to Navigate Competing Offers

It’s perfectly fine to contact HR if you’ve received an offer. It could be that we’ve just gotten busy and haven’t had the opportunity to tell them we’ve gone in another direction. Or we’re ready to make an offer. I’ve gone to hiring managers and said, “We need to make a decision today.” (But don’t lie to speed the process up. One candidate tried that, but I knew the other hiring manager—and knew she hadn’t made a decision yet.)

Overall, I think of HR as an advocate for you, too. I want our employees to be happy and successful here. Our job is to ask, “How can we help you do that?”

Source: Yahoo Shine

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