Growing Your Future
in Agriculture

Interviewing 5 posts

1 April 2011
Topic: Interviewing

Interviewing Do's and Don'ts from Career Solutions

Interviewing can be tough. Let's be honest. I've had interviews where I've walked in completely confident, but once in the seat for the actual deed, hello sweaty palms. Here are some interview do's and don'ts that we thought we'd share with you from Career Solutions to help make your interview process as sweaty-palm-free as possible.

The Do's

  • Do take a practice run to the location where you are having the interview or be sure you know exactly where it is and how long it takes to get there.
  • Do your research and know the type of job interview you will be encountering. And do prepare and practice for the interview, but don't memorize or over-rehearse your answers.
  • Do dress the part for the job, the company, the industry. And do err on the side of conservatism. Do plan to arrive about 10 minutes early. Late arrival for a job interview is never excusable. If you are running late, do phone the company.
  • Do greet the receptionist or assistant with courtesy and respect. This is where you make your first impression.
  • Do bring extra resumes to the interview. (Even better, if you have a job skills portfolio, do bring that with you to the interview.)
  • Do make good eye contact with your interviewer(s).
  • Do show enthusiasm in the position and the company. Do show off the research you have done on the company and industry when responding to questions.
  • Do ask intelligent questions about the job, company, or industry. Don't ever not ask any questions -- it shows a lack of interest.
  • Do close the interview by telling the interviewer(s) that you want the job and asking about the next step in the process. (Some experts even say you should close the interview by asking for the job.)
  • Do try and get business cards from each person you interviewed with -- or at least the correct spelling of their first and last names. And don't make assumptions about simple names -- was it Jon or John -- get the spelling.
  • Do immediately take down notes after the interview concludes so you don't forget crucial details.
  • Do write thank you letters within 24 hours to each person who interviewed you. And do know all the rules of following up after the interview.

The Don'ts

  • Don't rely on your application or resume to do the selling for you. No matter how qualified you are for the position, you will need to sell yourself to the interviewer. Don't smoke, even if the interviewer does and offers you a cigarette. And don't smoke beforehand so that you smell like smoke. And do brush your teeth, use mouthwash, or have a breath mint before the interview.
  • Don't be soft-spoken. A forceful voice projects confidence.
  • Don't act as though you would take any job or are desperate for employment.
  • Don't inquire about salary, vacations, bonuses, retirement, or other benefits until after you've received an offer. Be prepared for a question about your salary requirements, but do try and delay salary talk until you have an offer.
  • Don't bring up or discuss personal issues or family problems.
  • Don't answer cell phone calls during the interview, and do turn off (or set to silent ring) your cell phone and/or pager.
  • Don't answer questions with a simple "yes" or "no." Explain whenever possible. Describe those things about yourself that showcase your talents, skills, and determination. Give examples.
  • Don't ever lie. Answer questions truthfully, frankly and succinctly. And don't over-answer questions.
We hope these tips can help. The biggest thing….RELAX. Confidence shows when you have a perfect fusion of confidence and curiosity. What are some interview tips you could throw onto this list?

18 January 2011
Topic: Interviewing

Interview tips: Stage 4 - The Offer

Getting a new position can be some exciting stuff, and getting a new position that pays well with good benefits is just as exciting. So, how do you handle the offer stage of the interview process?

Depending on the company and the timing demand of getting someone in place, an offer can happen during any phase of the process. Normally, offers usually come at the last interview or shortly thereafter. As a rule of thumb, you want to always get it in writing. ; Don’t be afraid to ask questions to clarify any details, BUT at the same time, you don’t want to obsess about the minor ones…like, which holidays are paid holidays, etc…

One thing to keep in mind is that offers can and are often withdrawn. So it’s best to make a decision fairly quick. At the same time, don’t feel pressured to make an “on-the-spot” decision. It is okay to take time to research the offer.

So, what if you have multiple offers from different companies? There are definitely things to compare and contrast, such as who you will be working for, what you will be doing, and where you will be doing it. Say you fancy one position over the other, but the other has more along the lines of what you’re looking for benefit-wise or pay-wise; Don’t be afraid to share the facts on the offers you’ve had to get what you’re looking for. There’s nothing wrong with that. ; ; It’s always good to negotiate, but do it only once.

If you end up turning down a position, don’t rule it out completely - things always have a funny way of coming back around. It’s always good to leave the door open to offers you reject…remember, all positions can add some value to your resume, especially if you do good work.

At the end of the day, know what you’re looking for, but also understand that you may not get it all in one shot. ;

17 January 2011
Topic: Interviewing

Interview tips: Stage 3 Follow-up letter

So, you’ve sent in your resume, made yourself available, and gotten the chance to either sit down with your interviewer(s) or have a phone interview. Now what?

By following the instructions in our last blog post on interviewing, you should already know the time frame in which your interviewer will be letting you know whether or not you’ve been hired for the position. ; Our advice is to send a follow-up letter or email as soon as you get home or to your next destination, thanking them for the opportunity to have been able to talk to them. ; So, check it, this is a good formula for the follow-up letter:

1st Paragraph - This paragraph should start off with “Thank you…” Avoid being general. Be as specific as possible here.

2nd Paragraph - Be sure to mention that you liked what the company had to offer. Be specific with this one too.

3rd Paragraph - Sell yourself again. What we mean by this…remind us again why you’re qualified for the job and what you’ll bring to the table as far as experience and expertise. ; Let us know why we should hire you.

4th Paragraph - Ask for action or next step. Now, you probably already know the next step, but instead of leaving this alone, you could write, “I know we discussed a decision being made by Wednesday of next week. If for some reason we don’t connect, I will give you a follow-up call by Thursday…” ; This shows that you’re also willing to take action and that the position is important to you.

Follow up letters have the potential to be a deciding factor in who actually winds up with the position, especially if the company is having a hard time choosing between candidates. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.

Next blog post, we’ll be discussing the “offer” stage.
12 January 2011
Topic: Interviewing

Interview tips: Stage 2

We recently wrote about the importance of prepping for your interview. Well, once you prepared prior to the actual interview, let’s talk about the day of the interview, and how you can put your best foot forward for your potential employer.

  • Arrive early - Some people say to arrive 15 minutes early. Some say to arrive up to 30 minutes early. When you do this, it allows for any unforeseen traffic issues that may arise, and it also gives you a chance to check out the area and the facility.
  • Silence electronic devices - It’s pretty unprofessional to have your phone go off (even on vibrate) during the middle of an interview. It can throw both employer and interviewee off a bit. Best bet is to leave devices in your car until the interview is over.
  • Eye contact - Eye contact is so important, especially when meeting someone for the first time. ; It’s a way to show respect along with a way to show that you’re listening. Listening is another key thing to do during an interview.
  • Firm Handshake - A firm handshake goes hand in hand with good eye contact. A good firm handshake shows a level of confidence over a limp or weak handshake.
  • Portfolio - We told you not to go into too much detail on your resume. The interview is now the time to dive into your portfolio of experience and sell yourself. Be sure to give specific examples of the things you’ve done.

Those are a couple of key ones. It’s also good to avoid using slang terms, ask for next steps/time table of hiring process, and be sure to get contact info of your interviewer.

One more thing: It’s never a bad thing to ask for the job…
Next post will talk about interview follow-up.

Can you add to this list or do you have any comments?
10 January 2011
Topic: Interviewing

Interviewing tips and strategies

We’ve been talking about getting your foot in the door to a great agriculture career by looking organized on paper or LinkedIn, but now, how do you transfer this organization and professionalism over to your interview? ; We’re going to do a series this week on interviewing, starting with how to prep leading up to the interview.

There are typically two types of interviews we do here at Career Solutions:
  • Face to face interviews
  • Phone interviews

So, you may be wondering why we would do phone interviews versus face-to-face interviews. Well, for starters, we’re physically located in Indiana. We serve agriculture, equipment, and livestock companies all over the United States. We wouldn’t ask you to fly into Indiana if you were in Iowa and we were hiring for a position out there. No, rather, we’d do a phone interview and move onto the next steps if you qualify. (See our last blog post on the Career Solutions candidate process.)

If you were around the Northern Indiana region, we would most likely ask you to come in for a face-to-face interview. A couple of things we recommend:

1. Remain flexible and make yourself available - There is nothing worse than attempting to pin down a candidate for a position and either a) not being able to get a hold of them, or b) they’re too busy. Also, be sure to confirm the time, itinerary, get the proper address and directions if needed.

2. Find out appropriate dress attire - If you have piercings or tattoos, take the piercings out and I’d cover up any tattoos. We understand that tattoos are more mainstream, but when you’re interviewing, you still need to maintain professionalism.

3. Always, ALWAYS, do research on the company - The more you know about the history and progression of the company you’re interviewing for, the more impressed your interviewer will be. It shows you CARE about the company and that you want to be a team player. It also lets the interviewer know that you took time learning about them.

4. Always be honest about your experience - According to Pamela Meyer, author of Liespotting: “Up to 25% of C-Suite executives falsify their resumes and at least one third of all resumes contain misinformation: a made-up award; an embellished title; even an imaginary degree." Lying or falsifying your resume is not cool, and can lead to termination if found out. Always be honest, and if you need help on something, be up front about that as well. We’ll work with you, especially if the passion is there.

5. Write down any specific questions you may have - Yes, there always comes a time where your interviewer will ask if you have any questions. Now is the time to ask. This part is pretty easy if you’ve done your research as suggested in step three. We’ll talk about appropriate questions and questions to avoid in the next posts. Having questions prepared lets the company know you’re interested in your future and is also a sign of preparedness.

We hope this helps you prepare for your interview. Stay tuned for our next blog over more interviewing tips!