July 25, 2012

Overcoming the Three Most Hated Aspects of the Job Interview

jumping overFor many job seekers, the interview is often considered the most dreaded part of the hiring process. Not only are you forced to be interrogated by a complete stranger holding the keys to your future in his her hands, but for all of the effort you put into preparing for this pivotal conversation, it can just as easily leave you with nothing to show for your toil. No matter how desperate you are for a job there are always those parts of the process that frustrate and annoy.

It’s time to change your mindset: you can get over these worst parts of the interview with a little bit of focus and preparation. But don’t just get over these problem areas – take control: trust that you can fly over them with ease and land unscathed. Here are the top three things people hate about the interviewing process and how to turn them to your favor.

1.) Knowing what to ask about

Researching a company’s background can lead to golden opportunities to ask pointed questions to show your dedication and interest in the company and your professional savviness. But where do you turn to find the information you need to be sufficiently informed of a company’s background and current interests? It will take some real effort, and the reading is certainly not for pleasure, but check out their SEC filings and any other corporate filings you can get your hands on. Poring through these documents can net you some choice nuggets of information that can give you the edge in crafting the perfect question to ask during your interview. Check the company’s annual report, proxy statement, and 10-K to give you excellent research material on the company. One you have this knowledge and research done about the employer, you’re ready to come up with your interview questions. For a detailed list of specific questions to ask, check out 10 Great Questions to Ask at Interview.

2.) Dealing with the issue of salary

The issue of salary negotiation is always a point of contention between interviewer and interviewee. When is it too late to bring up the conversation? What is it too early? In the end, it is best to ask for a salary range before the issue is formally brought up. The longer you put it off the less prepared you will be when it comes time to deal. Instead of waiting for the topic to come up and risking being unprepared, ask about salary early on in the application process; preferably from a recruiter or from someone at a preliminary information session. All you need to do is get a general salary range in order to get the information you need to haggle and ensure that you aren’t leaving any money on the table. Here are some more tips for salary negotiation that would be good to review before the interview process.

3.) Coming up with your own faults

Everyone has a particular interview question that acts as effectively as kryptonite to Superman at some point during the exchange. Perhaps the most hated interview question involves asking for weaknesses. How do you answer such a question without causing too much damage to your candidacy? Simply pick a technical skill that is completely unrelated to the job for which you are applying. Instead of relying on predictable and empty responses such as “I work too hard,’ or “It’s hard for me to say ‘no’,” give a genuine answer explaining your real weakness with a technical skill but use it to push for why you are applying for one job as opposed to one requiring your “weak” skill. So while you are admitting to a real weakness, the fact that the skill is unrelated to your sought after job ensures that it won’t hurt your candidacy. Don’t want to use that approach? Here is a detailed explanation of how to get through the weakness question.

Do you see a pattern here? All three of these hated aspects of the interview process involve things that are up to you – not the interviewer. Knowing the right questions to ask, knowing the salary you need to accept the position, knowing yourself well enough to assess your weaknesses – these are all internal self-knowledge. Perhaps the reason these things most often make interviewees nervous is that these are self-driven activities. But we can’t leave the interview up to the employer – you must take control. In the end, no one is going to hire you if you aren’t ready to get yourself hired. To succeed in an interview, we have to be confident, prepared, and ready to play an active role.

Read more in Interview Process

Joshua Bjerke, from Savannah, Georgia, focuses on articles involving the labor force, economy, and HR topics including new technology and workplace news. Joshua has a B.A. in Political Science with a Minor in International Studies and is currently pursuing his M.A. in International Security.