How to Interview Successfully – Part 2

Following on from last week’s article about “Instilling Confidence” we this week are focusing on the other important aspect to consider when interviewing, enthusiasm.

Part 2 – Demonstrating Enthusiasm

What about demonstrating enthusiasm? This is simply showing you have taken the time to understand the company you are interviewing with. This will show the client you are keen to work with them.

It goes without saying that you need to prepare before the interview – make sure you have gone through as much background reading as possible. Check the company website but go further and look for specific articles about the company in the press. Try to find the their financial information if it’s published and look for any information you can on upcoming projects, key people, organisation structures etc. Learn some key facts and figures which you can drop into the conversation, usually during the period of the interview when it is time for you to ask questions. For example:

“I noticed that your office in Chongqing was 11% more profitable than your office in Shenyang – do you foresee that the company will focus their efforts and growth more on this central/Western region of China as a result?”

This is very different (and much more powerful) than simply asking:

“Where do you plan to focus your future growth in China?”

And this leads nicely to the next point on demonstrating enthusiasm and that is asking questions. Generally an interviewer will offer you the chance to put some questions across to them. This is the chance for you to use your research to ask some very specific and hopefully detailed questions about both the role and the company. Avoid asking generic question such as:

“Where can my career go in this company?”

“What projects will I be working on?”

“How often will I receive a career review/pay rise?”

Instead try to use some of your research, facts and figures in your questions. I have re-worded the above generic examples below:

“I see from your organisation chart that the company has a flat structure. Does this mean that the next steps in my career would be X and Y or can you perhaps outline how I may get to the next stage with your company?”

“I noticed that you currently have 5 hotel projects in Thailand and 2 in Malaysia. Based on my experience would you say I would be suited to any of these or would you have some others in mind for me?”

“Your company has won awards in 2008, 2009 and 2010 as being one of the best employers in Hong Kong. Am I right in thinking therefore that you have a structured career process in place and if so could you please talk me through this?”

As you will see, they are essentially the same questions being asked but with that extra level of detail that an interviewer will pick up on. They cannot fail to be impressed by the research you have done and they will think you are interested in working for them. You’d be surprised how few people bother with this approach but in my experience and from the feedback I get from clients, it really does work.

One final area which clients will often touch on at interview is your salary level. It is important to be prepared for this, particularly in Asia, where it is common for companies to expect detailed breakdowns of current packages and remuneration. The key things here are to be honest about your current level and open to the possibility of what the company could offer. You could have done an excellent job instilling confidence and showing enthusiasm only to overprice yourself (or worse for you, undersell yourself) at this point. If the client is likely to have an idea of your current package before interview (from a recruitment consultant or information you may have already provided) make sure you say the same numbers. When it comes to what you expect, I suggest being pretty open. Something along the lines of:

“My current package is X. Ideally I would be looking for an improvement on this but I’m reluctant to say a figure at this point and would welcome the chance to receive your feedback and review anything you would deem appropriate in an offer.”

It can seem like you are avoiding the question but it is often better than throwing a number out there and being discounted for being too expensive. Put the ball in their court if you can. If you are using a recruitment consultant, refer the client back to them in a similar manner and they should be able to negotiate on your behalf.

I think there is one final thing useful to remember. At interview, it is your job to get an offer. It is not the point to decide if you want the job, you can do that later. You are in a much stronger position if you have 3 offers to choose from rather than the client deciding it’s a no for you. Therefore make sure you are enthusiastic with every company you meet and do the same level of preparation for all, even if you are not initially convinced that the role is right. You can ultimately turn down offers. It’s about getting yourself into a position where you have options to consider.

Once the questions are over, that’s it. End on a positive note and state how you look forward to hearing from them in the near future. Hopefully you will have talked through your work and instilled confidence in your ability and also shown you have researched the company, asked relevant questions and demonstrated your enthusiasm for working with them.

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6 Responses to How to Interview Successfully – Part 2

  1. M. Phillips says:

    Nice article, very informative.

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