INTERVIEW ADVICE

When you're in a good interview, it's like being on a relay team. You and the employer are runners on the same team, and you both have a common goal: to figure out if you and the employer's organization are a winning combination.

So think of your interview as a sports event where you and the manager pass a "baton" back and forth. One good question leads to a good answer, which leads to another good question.

Before you know it, 30 or 40 minutes have gone by: You've both learned a lot about each other and made your selling points. Using this image of cooperation rather than one of opposition will help you have an effective interview.

Of course, not all interviews are going to be that fluid. Some managers aren't skilled at asking good questions. Some may even try to trip you up with tricky questions. This guide is filled with tips about how to turn your interview into a winning relay.

RESEARCH THE COMPANY

By knowing as much as possible about the organization you're interviewing with, you'll be able to speak about topics that are relevant to the job you're applying for. Good places to research company information include:

  • The business section of your public library
  • Business and financial magazines
  • Business sections of newspapers
  • Your prospective employer's company literature
  • Your professional and personal network
  • The company's Web site

SALARY GUIDE

Almost everybody feels like they're in a pressure cooker when it comes to bargaining, and salary negotiation is no exception. But it doesn't have to be that way-a little knowledge can turn the heat down and give you the confidence to be a strong partner in a business transaction!

WHEN TO TALK SALARY

There are two schools of thought on when to bring up salary. One approach is to steer clear of salary talk until after you have a job offer. The other way is to find out up front what the salary range is so you don't waste your time on something you don't want. Both ways have worked for lots and lots of people. Talking about money is a very individual thing, and you have to figure out which approach is a good one for you. See if this helps:

If you're pretty new to your career, or you're struggling in a really competitive job market, it might be better to put off salary talk until after the job offer. Once you've sold the employer on your qualifications, you'll be in a better position to talk money.

On the other hand, if you're accomplished in your field, you know your minimum worth, and you don't want to waste your time applying for an under-paying job, doesn't it make sense to find out if the salary is at least in the ballpark before going through the whole application process? Maybe you don't want to pin down the exact figure, but knowing what the range is could save you and the employer a lot of time. Whenever you decide to talk money, you want to have your bargaining hat on straight. To help develop a strategy, fill out the following two "thinksheets."

A WORD OF THANKS

When the interview draws to an end, thank the interviewer by name, saying something like, "Mr. Ganguly, this interview's been really helpful and enjoyable. Thank you! Is it OK for me to call you tomorrow if I have more questions?" or "I'm very interested in this job. What is the next step in your hiring process?"
And don't forget to thank the administrative assistant and receptionist on your way out. And to be a real hit, use their names if you know them. It always helps to be friends with these folks, since they're the ones who screen calls and messages.