Sunday, December 23, 2007

Brushing Up On Job Interviewing Skills

Recently, I wrote about doing some seasonal, part-time or call-in work while in retirement. Also, based on my analysis of Social Security benefits, I realized I need a minimum threshold level of wage income in retirement to maximize Social Security payments when I reach the full retirement age. So far, I have done two interviews with one successful and one "too soon to tell," since it was just this past Friday.

Since I had hiring responsibility in the job from which I retired, I know how the process works from the hiring side. I now find it interesting to be on the other side as the interviewee. Here are the key interviewing points I will carry with me as I investigate more part time positions:

  1. It's all about the employer. Since I have no professional experience in my new fields of interest, I invest effort in helping the interviewer understand how my experience and skills are of benefit to their company. After reading the job description and company information, I think of several examples in my previous career that demonstrates my ability to do the work and meet needs that their company has. As I have coached others, just having high interest in the job is not sufficient.

  2. Have superior test taking skills. Many employers now use written behavioral and skills assessment tests. Be ready to do well in these. Generally, if one doesn't pass, the interview is finished. Fortunately, I am still a pretty good test taker, even though I haven't done this regularly in over 20 years. So far, I've passed both tests that were taken and made it to the next stage.

  3. Assess the company and interviewer. While the company is interviewing me, I also learn more about the company, including culture, and the people that work for it. In one case, I determined the interviewer made the assessment, but didn't make the hiring decision. The office manager made the hiring decision. The next day, I went to the office, where I know several people and let them know I was applying. While the office is currently overstaffed, I'm now on the top of the "to be considered" list when a position becomes open.

  4. Don't share salary information. I don't tell people the salary of my previous job, which would make me look very over qualified for these positions. Even if it was a job comparable to my previous position, I wouldn't share my previous salary. I've put "confidential" on both applications so far and it hasn't caused a problem. If they asked, I would qualify my preference of not sharing with, "I'm sure your salary offer will be appropriate for the level and duties and my previous job had very different responsibilities."

  5. Let them know your "no deal" elements. I know that interview guides recommending negotiating terms after an offer. That may be true for full time jobs. For part time jobs, I think it's better to let interviewers know the no go elements of the job, especially when there are only one or two. That way, the company doesn't waste its or my time with an offer I won't accept.

    For me, a prime criteria of acceptability is proximity to my home, say less than three miles. The interviewer implied that office was full and asked if I wanted to work at an office over 15 miles away. After contemplating 15 seconds, I replied, "No." To which he responded, "OK, do well on the test and we'll see what we can do." I received an offer and I'll be working at my first choice office.

  6. Be confident that I am the best candidate. Simply, if I don't think I'm the best candidate, why should the interviewer? I recall two interviews in college when I wasn't confident. Needless to say, I didn't get an offer in either case. On the other hand, I won't worry if I don't get an offer. I'll think, "Their loss" and move on.

    A corollary to this is, "Don't be desperate to get the job." In my experience, this often results in an immediate regret.

Initially, I was hoping employers would give more credit to my previous career and skills. However, I guess I will need to go through the same process as any interested applicant. Therefore, as with my work, I will make sure I do well in the process, and therefore, positively differentiate myself from the other candidates.

For more on New Beginnings, check back every Sunday for a new segment.

Photo Credit:, S. R. Cherry

This is not financial, interviewing or career advice. Please consult a professional advisor.
Copyright © 2007 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

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