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Subject:Summary-Final Interview Tips-Thanks From:George Williams <williamg -at- MTS -dot- NET> Date:Mon, 13 Oct 1997 11:50:55 +1600
Final Interview Tips Summary
These final interview tips were sent to me via the tech writer
list. I used them, plus a trip to the library, to prepare for a
meeting with the Director of the department. The books I found most
helpful in the library(actually the only ones I had time to read)
were SHARKPROOF by Harvey Mackay, and BEST ANSWERS TO THE 201 MOST
FREQUENTLY ASKED INTERVIEW QUESTIONS by Matthew J. DeLuca.
The interview went well. I ordered non-messy food as
suggested(A spinach salad with water). I was very polite and got
along well with the Director. There were two minor problems.
In hindsight I think was a little over-anxious at times(too much
enthusiasm I guess), and I wasn't quite prepared to answer the
question about only writing in a certain field. My advice to anyone
who is applying for a position involving a totally different style or
subject of writing, would be to be ready to convince the interviewer
that your writing/interviewing/organizational skills are
transferable to any subject. I'm pretty sure I can write
anything on any topic, nowadays, on deadline, but I'm not so sure
that came across in the interview. My software/computer skills
weren't a problem. My media contacts were also beneficial to me in
the interview. The position involved editing a cutting edge
web site with many sources of information.
Here are the Responses
1. Ah, you got the job! at this point, they probably just
want to size you up to see if you'd fit in. be
confident, outgoing, and friendly.
2. Gosh, I hate interviews involving food! Be sure to use
the right fork and don't order something that's messy to
3.This tip actually worked for me(sender):
When it is apparent that the company people like you and
you like them, they will ask the question," How much
will it take to get you on board with us?" (Why do they
talk like that, anyway?)
DO NOT TELL THEM A HARD DOLLAR FIGURE.
Say something like this," Money is important, of course,
but it's not everything. It would mean a lot to me to
get a good job in a prestigious company like yours.
I've got experience, and we both think I'm the right man
for the job, so please make the best offer you can and
let's take it from there."
It would be very easy for you to eliminate yourself from
consideration if your stated salary requirements were
off-base...but you and your employer can negotiate
anything once you have agreed on the baseline
arrangements. A professional recruiter gave me this tip
on my way to an interview to a job I wanted, and when I
followed his advice, I got an offer that was about what
I would have asked for anyway, and I didn't appear crass
and greedy. Protracted money negotiations can make the
company wonder what they saw in you in the first place.
4. If you haven't already immersed yourself in the book
"Knock 'em Dead" by Martin Yate, do it. It's for
resumes, but it's about answering tough interview
questions too. He may have two books. Check both.
NEVER order or accept alcohol or use tobacco at meetings
or meals until you have the job locked up (you are
receiving paychecks) NO matter what subtle
friendlinesses are applied.
I have heard that IBM used to drop candidates who spiced
their food before tasting it (salt, pepper, even); the
implication was "old habits rule," "unwilling to
experience before judging," etc. This may be rumor, but
why tempt those who may judge irrationally.
If you have not shown successful projects that apply to
the job yet, try to arrange for a way to show them at
this point, or at least open the topic in advance of
the meeting and try to get your best stuff shown and on
Ask questions that get information from your
interviewers; it should be a two-way information flow.
"How have you planned for x? Would I have the full
responsibility, part, collaborate? With whom? Is there
anyone I haven't met whom I would be working with
closely? Can I meet him/her before I decide?"
5. I would guess this interview is about personal
relationships and thinking strategically. Do you
know what their competition's sites look like? Do
you have ideas for changes and business reasons for
your ideas? Questions about where the department is
headed, based upon what was said in earlier
What community or professional contacts can you
chat about? Do you know anything about the
Director's personal life (a family, hobbies, car,
etc.) or managerial bent (philosophical, Buzz
Buzzword, etc.)? (Even if you don't agree, being
able to discuss an area of interest counts.) Do
you have aspects of your personal life (hobbies,
family) that you can trot out for display?
How about going to an HR book from the library (or
a friend who works anywhere in HR) to see why a
company would have three interviews?
A word of warning. Some companies do stress
interviews, in which an exec harasses the candidate
to see how the person reacts in stressful
situations and how much they can take. Know ahead
of time what you will do, on the outside chance
that this is a stress interview. (Your previous
interviews should give you an idea if this is a
6. Re the interview, I can only suggest things that are
probably pretty obvious to you.
Don't order anything messy like spaghetti.
Try to follow suit. If the manager (interviewer)
orders fish and you like fish, go for it.
Mind your manners. I've read many a time that
interviews were botched because of a breach of
etiquette. You know what I mean, they have to feel that
you won't embarrass them whenever the company is in the
7. The director probably wants to find out what kind of
person you are, and whether s/he will like working with
you. So, be yourself, with a few caveats. Feel free to
discuss some positive or creative ideas you have about
the job, but don't discuss religion or politics, and
under NO CIRCUMSTANCES have an alcoholic drink -- no
beer, wine, etc., even if the director does. Use the
best table manners you know, say you like the food even
if it's only mediocre. If you're calm, relaxed, and
confident, the meal will be a pleasant experience for
My own views:
Never give up after one interview.
I wasn't on the original short list from over 100 applicants for this
position after the initial interview, despite the fact that(as
requested) on one day's notice, I prepared a 15 page binder
presentation(for three interviewers) with overheads and copies
for each interviewer etc. describing my skills and showing samples of
my work. I really thought I aced the initial interview. I only had
to answer negatively to one question on an advanced programming
topic. Despite my confidence, I never made the initial cut.
But I wrote a follow up letter with a Thank You card and some
positive suggestions regarding the project. I was then called back to
write an eight hour management test. I thought I did OK on the test
but also thought I had some weak areas. Then I was called back for
the interview with the Director after doing OK on the test.
While I don't know yet if I made it to the winner's circle, I learned
a few things from the process.
Presentation skills and confidence are a major plus.
Be prepared to show how your skills are transferable.
Send a creative, polite, thank you note if unsuccessful on the first
interview( or maybe even while waiting for a decision).
Be enthusiastic but not over-anxious.
Have exceptional table manners and order non-messy food.
No alcohol or tobacco(mentioned above).
Be well dressed, well manicured, and well spoken.
The interviewing process can build confidence for the future.
I hope this summary helps someone. I had never been interviewed for
anything before. Contract work in my field just fell into my lap.
"Can you do this?"
"Ok, I'll pay you this much and I need it be this deadline."
The tips sent via the list gave me that extra boost of confidence
I needed to get me through my first interview process.
Have a great day!
williamg -at- MTS -dot- Net
"If you play-You always have a chance to win."