Tech & Work

The keys to successful interviewing

Are you thinking about looking for another job? Do you have a lot of experience interviewing, or are your skills a little rusty? If you think you need to sharpen your skills, be sure to check out this Web site, reviewed by TechRepublic contributor Kevin Eikenberry.

We’ve all heard the saying that the grass is always greener on the other side. Perhaps you are ready to see how that adage might apply to your career. Before you return that headhunter’s call, however, you might want to review some of the keys to successful interviewing.

With the many career opportunities and possibilities for IT trainers today, deciding to look for something new can be both exciting and scary. Often it’s your interviewing skills that will make or break your interview, even if you’re the perfect person for the job. To help prepare you for your next employment encounter, check out the excellent Web site put out by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), titled none other than Interviewing Skills .

What will you find?
Many colleges and universities maintain sites that offer help with interviews. Of the ones I viewed, I found the UWM Interviewing Skills Web page to be the most complete and most applicable to those of us who are already in the working world but just looking for a refresher. The home page is a straightforward list of links to the various sections of the site, including:
  • The Art of Interviewing
  • Interview Preparation
  • Researching Employers
  • Questions to Ask Employers
  • Answering Interview Questions
  • Interviewing Tips
  • Frequently Asked Interview Questions (General)
  • Frequently Asked Interview Questions (Education Candidates)
  • Questionable Questions
  • Types of Interviews
  • Second Interviews
  • Thank You Letters
  • Job Offers

As you can see, the site provides you with a multitude of interviewing topics that take you from preparing for the interview to finding a new job! The site also provides links to other related topics including:
  • Resume and cover-letter writing—a good review, although more focused on the college student, with a nice list of action verbs to use
  • Salary negotiations—a list of links to salary information, including surveys and the like, and the salary and benefits negotiation process.
This example should give you a sense of the depth of information contained in each area of the site. I randomly clicked on Answering Interviewing Questions. This section gives the interviewee a number of useful tips, including details about types of questions that might be asked, the main areas interviewers tend to focus on, and more. The most interesting advice I saw on this page was about how much and how long to talk. Here’s what the site says: “There are books and articles that direct you to talk anywhere from 0- 100 percent of the time in an interview. In fact, there is no one right amount. Be sensitive to the preferences of your interviewer. Test this by beginning your responses at 30 seconds to one or two minutes long. Use assertive questions to help you determine what your interviewer expects.These questions include:‘Would you like me to describe further?’‘Do we have time for me to give you another example?’”
This advice is an excellent example of the advice dispensed throughout—good, practical, and, occasionally, beyond the mere basics.

Missing the mark
Four of the sections (Type of Interviews, Second Interviews, Thank You Letters, and Job Offers) miss the mark for seasoned professionals. The information included in these sections is geared toward students leaving college for their first job and contain more references to campus resources and the like.

Overall impressions
I recommend this site as a good primer for the interviewing process. If you have been out of the interviewing loop for a while, a few minutes spent at this site would be well worth your time. If you have lots of interviewing experience, this site is probably not for you.

Of course, there are two sides to the interviewing coin—being interviewed and being the one to interview the applicant. The UWM site is geared toward the interviewee, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee should be congratulated for maintaining a site whose usefulness goes far beyond its own students. Next week, I’ll review a site that is designed for the person conducting the interview. And I’m sure the information on that site will be useful to applicants as well.
Take a look at the Interviewing Skills Web site and let us know what you think. If you have consulted any Web sites that helped you improve your interviewing skills, please post your comments below.

Kevin Eikenberry is President of the Discian Group , a learning consulting company in Indianapolis, IN. If you any suggestions for other Web sites to review, please follow this link to write to Kevin .

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