Take Control and Ace the Job Interview
The number one issue in the job interview is to make sure you understand that this is your opportunity to sell yourself to the interviewer. Many go to an interview with the mistaken idea that hiring managers ask questions, and there is little room for the job seeker to tell the whole story about who they are and what they are capable of.
When you're being interviewed, you should always be prepared to communicate your best strengths, and these are the things you have to get across in a fairly short period of time, even if the interviewer doesn't directly ask you about them.
There are three main steps in managing the interview process:
The best interview is one for which you feel well prepared and self-confident. First try to find out what type of interview you'll be facing. The three basic types are those with a written set of questions (if yes, you can ask if there are any formal questions, much like a take-home exam); the behavioural interview (where you're asked to describe how you'd act in different scenarios); and the panel interview (where you face more than one interviewer, in which case you should note each person's expertise and make sure to address specific answers to your panelists)? Or a combination of these.
- Do your homework on the hiring company and the position on offer. If it's a high-end restaurant with a "dress code" for servers and other staff, for instance, take the time to visit the establishment, try the food, study the menu, get a feel for the ambiance. A casual pub/club environment will have an entirely different feel. Dress for success takes on a whole new meaning, depending on the type of hospitality or restaurant job for which you're applying.
- Become a "mini-expert" on your prospective new employer so you can speak with authority and enthusiasm. Use online resources to find out as much as you can about the interviewer.
- Bring full documentation - not just copies of your resume and cover letter, but any diplomas, certificates and honors.
Ace your interview
Here are three excellent questions to always ask your interviewer:
- Have I answered your question completely?
- Did you get the information you needed?
- Is there any other aspect of my experience we need to review?
Sometimes the interviewer will ask a question, note the answer and move on, so you need to check in regularly to make sure they've gotten the information they need. This is how you can take control of the interview and ensure you're communicating your best points.
Also, First impressions are extremely important, and not just visual impressions. The definition of an interview is five minutes of selecting impressions and 55 minutes of selecting data to support those impressions.
- Rehearse your interview. That way you can take control from the start with well-considered answers that give the interviewer the best impression of your career. Never assume your interviewer has even read your resume since he or she might be conducting dozens of interviews that day.
- Look for opportunities to tell anecdotes reflecting your experience. Were you, as a server, called upon to take over the hostess's job from time to time? Tell your story!
- Support your skills and credentials with tangible results of your achievements. If bar sales increased while you were bartender at a restaurant, quantify your successes. If you were employee of the month at your last job, this could distinguish you from your competition.
- Don't leave without asking: "Have I answered all your questions?" "Are you the person with whom I should follow up (take a business card)?" "When do you expect to make your decision?"
- Did you make any promises during the interview requiring further action? For instance, if you were involved in developing the menus at your last restaurant job but didn't bring them with you, don't forget to keep your promise.
Do follow up
In the old days, most people sent hand-written thank you notes to job interviewers. While email is acceptable to say thank you, nothing impresses more than a handwritten note, hand-delivered. Remember, the hospitality and restaurant industry is all about customer service. Here's your chance to shine.