Ten pointers for a winning job interview
Q: I got called to interview, and felt I did a great one. But a week later, the dreaded letter came: thanks, but… I really wanted this job. It was with a company I have long admired, and I know it would have been great for my career. The company has a great record of mentoring employees. Is there anything I can do now to boost my chances of getting a job with this company in the future?
A: There is, actually. The first thing you must do is hold the cool – there have been cases where people have written stinking letters or emails to companies that have rejected them. Needless to say, that approach will definitely ensure you are remembered in the future – but for all the wrong reasons. So don’t let fly with a ‘woe is me’ response. One thing you might consider is a ‘thank you’ letter. It might sound a bit mis-placed, given that you didn’t get the job, but a short, simple note thanking the company for the opportunity to compete for the position will certainly do no harm. You could also reiterate that you would were attracted to the company for the very reason you state above, namely their reputation as a mentoring organisation. Say that you will be watching out for further opportunities with the company in the future.
Just a few lines. Wish the company well, and leave it at that: don’t write a lengthy tome. A ‘thank you’ card might even work instead of a letter.
Can you request feedback? Generally, it is a nuisance for a company to have to give feedback. It is time-consuming, and they are quite careful about what they will put on paper or even tell you over the phone.
As a general rule, I wouldn’t seek feedback. But if they offer some, thank them for it, and don’t raise quibbles. Store it up and ensure you use it positively the next time that company, or another company, calls you for interview.
And, yes, companies often call people back out of the blue. Two months ago, a client of ours went an interview with a huge organisation. It was his dream company. Like you, he felt he did well in interview – but didn’t get
the job. He was disappointed, but encouraged nonetheless to have even been.
Obviously, his hunch about the interview was right, because just last week he got a phonecall from the company offering him another position. No further interviews, no more drama, just when can you start?
So rejection is often just a temporary phenomenon: stay positive, keep trying to improve your interview style, and the door will open for you.
Dealing with the ‘salary expectation’ question
Q: If they ask about salary expectations, what should I say?
A: Always a tricky one. You don’t want to appear too blunt, yet you don’t want to be a walk-over either.
An answer we generally recommend is a kind of a ‘halfway house’ compromise. It runs something like this: “I expect a fair payment in terms of my qualification and also my experience. I’m sure it is something we could iron out at a later stage. Today I’m more focused on the job requirements and expectations, and I’m sure you have a good idea of what this position is worth to your company.”
By and large, people kick to touch – like I’ve just done there – with this question. I wouldn’t give a salary expectation straight off. Get them interested in you first, and the negotiations can come later.
Many – thought not all – companies have leeway when it comes to finalising a salary. Your hand is much stronger AFTER you’ve convinced them of their worth, rather than BEFORE.
If they push you on salary expectations, I’d still be inclined to stand my ground with variations on the answer above. They might admire you all the more for that in the long-run.
Sli Nua Careers (Watson’s Lane, Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo / Drum East, Bushy Park, Galway, tel 094 95 42965 / 091 528 883, www.SliNuaCareers.com) carry out CV Preparation, Mock Interviews, Interview Training, and Career Direction. For your free e-book on interview & CV tips, email GetThatJob@SliNuaCareers.com. They provide online CV makeovers at Slinuacareers.com/cv-preparation/cv-makeover/.