Interview tips?

I’ve got an interview on Thursday with the Systems department in a large corporation. I’m interviewing with the HP-UX guys, and I’d be doing basic Unix system admin if I were hired.

I’ve never had a corporate interview before, and quite frankly I’m terrified.

Do the teeming millions have any helpful hints regarding corporate interviews and making yourself look really good?


Here are my tips:
[ul]1. Look professional. Obvious, but should be said.
2. Be friendly. No one wants to hire a sourpuss or a crab.
3. Don’t be afraid to tell them all the wonderful projects/goals you’ve completed or to brag on yourself. No one else will do it for you. I’m not saying to say “I’m the best and everyone else sucks” but be positive about your attributes.
4. Let them know you want the job. Again, obvious, but important.
5. Know what to share when. It’s not necessary to tell them about the girl you hated at your last job and that’s why you quit. There is such a thing as too much information.[/ul]

Good luck and keep us posted!

[list][li]Keep your resume spartan. 1-2 pages[/li]
[li]Bring a pen. Nothing says “incompetent” than having to bum a pen at an interview.[/li]
[li]Bring a list of at least 5 references (professional, not personal/family). Make sure you have their current address and phone number. And ask them (if possible) if you can use them as a reference.[/li]
You’ll probably have to pick three of them and enter their info on your application. Having a bigger list helps you select the best three that would help you get the position.

[li]Salary: figure out beforehand what you’ll need to live comfortably in your area. Then add $3,000-5,000. This will give you bargaining room. And you might be surprised and they’ll hire you at the high end of what you asked for.[/li]
[li]Be gracious. If they offer you coffee, take them up on it if you really want coffee. Don’t be too demure.[/li]
[li]Don’t eat anything the night before that makes you gassy.[/li]
Make sure your breath is OK. Mints or gum just before you arrive should keep it fresh enough for the interview.

Have a question prepared when they ask you at the end if you have any questions. It makes it look like you have thought about this job. Make the question something that they have to think about but not put them on the spot. It makes the interviewee seem more intelligent that way. Also, when they ask you if you have any questions and you say no, then they think that you are some brain dead person who doesn’t care about the job.

I had a standard question, “how do my views on why I should get this job and your views differ?” I found this one put the people a little too much on the spot, but I learned a lot from it.

Also follow the previous mentioned tips. They work.

Oh when they start questioning you, there are several basic questions they will ask. I can’t think of them offhand, but go to a bookstore or a library and you can find a book on interviewing and they will be there. Formulate responses for those questions beforehand and be ready to tell them back.

It worked for me.


“People’s Poet don’t die, we’ll kill ourselves if you do, but first we’ll take off all our clothes.” The Young Ones

Ask THEM a lot of questions. It always looks good, and you might actually learn something about the company. I’ve been on both sides of the table, and I can tell you that getting into an active discussion is probably the best thing you can do. Ask a ton of questions. Comment on the answers. Do some homework and find out about the company so you can ask specific questions about the company, the job, etc.

The purpose of a first interview is to screen out people who, in the interviewers opinion, would not fit with the company or job from a personality standpoint. You have already met the technical requirements or else they would not have called you in for the interview so what they are looking for is what kind of person you are and if you would fit in.

Do your homework! Find out all you can about the company, the job and the person you will be interviewing with. Interviewers are almost always impressed if you can show that you know the basic facts about a company. Call anyone and everyone that may know something that may be of use to you, search the web for newspaper articles etc.

ASK QUESTIONS! Some good ones:

“Why did you choose to work here?” Especially good if the interviewer has not been there a long time.
“What challenges does the organization face?” Really good if you can work in some of your strengths as part of a possible solution.
“How will my performance be evaluated?” A good question to ask a Human Resources person.

Of course don’t forget the basics: know where the interview is, ask directions, plan to arrive 20 minutes early, make sure your clothes, shoes and hair are in perfect condition, smile, make eye contact, send a thank-you letter after the interview etc.

Be prepared to answer any questions about the information on your resume. I once asked a job applicant about the “Excellent Communication Skills” he had listed on his resume. His response was that “It looked go on the resume so that is why he put it there.” The lost the job right then.

Be confident! Remember the person behind the desk has a need, you have to sell yourself as the solution to the need. If you go into the interview thinking “I’m not going to get this job” then I can guarantee you that you will not.

And if you don’t get the job, write or call the interviewer and ask why. The feedback you get will only help you next time.

Peace on Earth = Purity Of Essence

Ditto to all of the above, plus:

Some hiring managers will ask a “trap” question. Examples:

  1. “What did you like least about your previous job?”

  2. “Tell me about a time when you wished you could have done better on a project.”

  3. “What would you consider to be your biggest flaw?”

Stuff like that. My advice is to mentally prepare yourself with answers that do not suggest a bitter attitude, a lack of confidence, or admissions of failure. That way you don’t get caught by surprise.

The best piece of advice I can give is be happy while you are in there. A nice smile, positive attitude, and energy will go very far.

In order to help me sell myself I always make sure I list my five or six best attributes mentally and try to work at least 3 or 4 into the conversation. For example. I am very organized, so I would try to talk about my ability to streamline my tasks and allow me to do more work. (although on second thought…more work???)

And Lastly…Best of luck. Let us know how it goes!

there is (was) a book called “Sweaty Palms - the Art of Being Interviewd” - if it’s still in print, might be worth looking at. check the libraries.

don’t pad the resume - you never know when you might encounter an interviewer who can call you on it. for example, i’ve interviewed applicants who put down that they’re fluently bilingual, French/English. I happen to be bilingual, so I always ask a couple of questions in French. if they can’t reply in French, their chances of getting the job go down drastically.

“Be Prepared.” One of the best interviewees I’ve encountered came in with a prepared list of questions in a folder - salary range, duties, benefits, any travel requirements, chances of advancement, etc. as we went through the interview, he ticked off the points, and then at the end asked about the things we hadn’t covered already. He was very much in control of the interview - almost as if he was interviewing us for his purposes. If done properly, leaves a very good impression of the interviewee as a self-starting, thougtful person.

watch your body language. we had one guy lean back in his chair, with one arm dangling over the arm. conveyed the impression that he didn’t really care much about getting the job. well, if he didn’t care, why should we?

know your stuff. we’ve scratched people off the list who asked stupid questions that showed complete ignorance of key areas. if you don’t know the answer to a technical question, say so - but then add immediately how you would go about finding the answer to the question.

asking the interviewers why they work there and what they like about the company is a very good question - people like to talk about themselves. plus, you might get some feedback, intentional or not, that could signal that you might not really like working there.

good luck.

In addition to all the other advice that’s already been posted, I have one more thing: don’t be scruffy!

I see people coming in for interviews dressed like they’re going grocery shopping. Even if a suit isn’t appropriate (and it usually is the best thing to wear to a big company interview, in my experience), try to look presentable. Comb your hair, clean your nails, shine your shoes, make sure your shirt cuffs aren’t frayed.

I know this sounds really obvious, and I don’t mean to insult your intelligence, but if you don’t make yourself look presentable, it sends the message that you don’t really give a rat’s ass about the interview.

Good luck, lovelee!

The Cat In The Hat

Brush up a bit on the basics of your field. You may be a top-flight UNIX administrator but get tripped up on a silly simple question about something you haven’t thought about for years.

I did that a while ago. I interviewed for a job as a C++ programmer. I’ve been doing that and C programming for 15 years. I sat in an interview, and the guy says, “If you were designing a C++ compiler, what five things would be most important?” It turns out that he just wanted me to list the characteristics of an object oriented language, but I was thinking at a higher level, so I sat and thought about it, and gave some vague answers about optimization and other stuff… I think he decided that I didn’t have a clue about Object-Oriented principles, and I never got the job.

Don’t vomit all over yourself

One day in beauty school I had a request…I didn’t recognize the name. While I was doing her, she asked me a lot of questions about the beauty business, and my opinions on what I expect to happen once I graduate, things like that. I didn’t think anything of it at the time because a lot of people asked me those questions. It turns out that she was the manager at a local salon, and she told me that we just had a job interview and asked me if I’d be interested in working for her.

I thought that was clever of her. She got to see my work in a real setting and saw firsthand how I treated customers. I did work there, but after a few years a lot of bad things happened (long story) and I quit.

When I was interviewed for the job I currently have, I was a little nervous but then I decided that I was going to have fun. I answered her questions properly but once in a while I’d throw in an anecdote and made her laugh. The interview lasted quite a long time because we had such a fun talk. She told me later that she was going to hire me anyway, but what put me over the top was that I was relaxed and made something stressful like an interview fun. She said that showed her how I am with people I don’t know…would I be scared because I don’t know them? Would I clam up because I don’t know them? etc.

I realize not every job is as people oriented as mine but it goes to show you that if you’re relaxed, it shows and you come across differently than someone who was all nervous. The key is RELAX! :slight_smile:

Sometimes life is so great you just gotta muss up your hair and quack like a duck!

Well, I relaxed, I read all the information on interviewing that I could find, and…

… it wasn’t anything like any of the books said it would be. He only asked two stock questions (Where do you see yourself in X years, why this company) and the rest of the time was more of a casual q&a about the job, what the unit did, etc. As we were leaving, he even asked me if I understood how the flex hours and overtime worked! I also spent 45 min talking to one of the guys in the unit, but I didn’t get asked any technical questions… weird for a technical position!

So… I have no idea if I should feel good about this or not.

And I find out in a week.
bites nails