Acing the Professional Interview – Lights! Camera! Action!

by: Sharon LeBlanc
Consultant: Training and Research

The interview places you in the spotlight — With good preparation and lots of practice for your interview, you will be a shining star in the spotlight.
There is fierce competition for jobs in the automotive industry. You may have a superb resumé; you may express yourself eloquently in your covering letter; your qualifications may be outstanding; however, the way you interview will determine whether or not you get an offer of employment. Interview skills are often the determining factor between the successful candidate and the unsuccessful candidate.

Actions speak louder than words!
From the time you enter the interview, the employer will begin assessing you on many levels: your appearance, your eye contact, your hand-shake, your enthusiasm, and even your oral language skills. Assume there are at least three other well-qualified people who have made the short list to the interview. You may well be the most qualified for the position, but you must deal with how you are perceived.

How do I handle the interview?
Practice makes perfect! There’s no need to have sweaty palms. Make sure you’re armed with the ammunition you need to lead to a successful interview:

1. Arrive early – You’ll never get a second chance to make a first good impression. Punctuality is a critical trait of a potential candidate. You also may need time to complete paperwork and just get yourself organized.

2. Smile . . . Be enthusiastic – “I love what I do; I really want this position; I can see myself working for this company!” The success of many interviews is decided during the first two minutes of the interview. Greet the employer with a firm handshake, make direct eye contact, and smile. Dress in smart, businesslike attire, show maturity, a sense of humour, and warmth.

3. Be yourself. Be truthful – “Image building” means you must be who you say you are. You must look, talk, and act like the person whom you claim to be on your resumé. Fill out the application truthfully; however, do not offer any harmful information. Read the directions before writing, to avoid any errors. Never misrepresent your education or work experience. Present only the facts. Use neat, legible handwriting, and never write “see resumé.” Write the word “open” in the space for salary desired.

4. Show a keen interest in the company, and in the interviewer – Know the interviewer’s name, and his position or title in the company. Research the company, and know everything you can. Ask the employer to describe the position. Many employers evaluate applicants by the questions they ask. Listen carefully, so you can ask relevant, meaningful questions. Don’t talk too much. Employers are impressed with specific questions about the position, the company’s future goals, and the skill set needed for the job.

5. Escape the pitfalls. Effective non-verbal communication skills speak as loudly as words. Hiring decisions are often determined by the rapport between the employer and the applicant. Speak clearly, listen closely, maintain direct eye contact and R|E|A|C|T when a response is required! Positive body language is very important. Sit up straight and, like a mouse waiting to pounce on a piece of cheese, lean slightly forward. Never smoke or swear, even if the employer does, whether the interview takes place in his office or in a restaurant.

6. Answers to questions should be job related – Avoid discussing your personal life. Like in your written resumé, coin your oral responses to questions by listing your accomplishments and using strong action words that show your abilities. You will be judged by what you have done, not on what you say you plan to do. Emphasize what you can do for the company, how you would be an asset, and your determination to succeed in this job.

7. Take time to think. – Take time to think over a question before answering it. You need to offer an intelligent, well thought-out answer.

8. Speak positively about past employers. – If you can’t say something flattering about the company you’re leaving, say nothing at all! Give valid reasons for leaving your position.

9. Do:

  • Ask for the position if you really want it.
  • Accept a firm offer on the spot if you know you want it.
  • Say thank-you for the interview; write a thank-you letter immediately; follow up in 3 days with a telephone call.
  • Know your resumé well, and be prepared to discuss your experiences in more detail.

10. Don’t:

  • Don’t boast by saying you can easily handle the position. You may appear arrogant or overqualified.
  • Don’t suggest you have doubts about your ability to perform.
  • Don’t inflate you salary. Interviewers have a good idea what people in their industry earn, and can easily check it out.
  • This could ruin your chances of success.
  • Don’t refuse an offer of employment until you’ve had time to think about it for a day and discuss it with Marckis.
  • Sometimes we can negotiate a different offer.
Call us about your career placement or recruiting needs:
office 905-290-0911 or toll free 1-866-627-2547