Interviewing Tips Part 1

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A few tips to get you prepped and ready for your next interview:

Make sure your resume is grammatically correct, up to date and complete with all relevant company and education information. A good rule of thumb is a one, or at the most, a two page chronological resume starting with the most current job and going back to the first job out of school. The resume should focus on accomplishments and results. In architecture and construction, your project list is very important. It should be a one or two page addendum to your resume. List your project’s name, size, location and result (on time, under budget) in chronological order starting with the most recent project. Make sure to clearly state what your involvement in the project was. Please be accurate, share the glory and do not embellish.

Gather letters of recommendations, your portfolio (not necessary but a good touch ) and a list of professional references including current and past supervisors, peers, subordinates, consultants and clients.

Next, thoroughly research the company you will be interviewing with. Visit their website and research their projects, history, clients, recent news, etcetera.

Set aside time to interview. It’s best to take a whole day off (if that is not possible then at least a half day) so that you can be focused and prepared and not rushed. Ask yourself why you are going on this interview. What are you looking for? Prepare a list of questions and approach the interview with the same enthusiasm and seriousness you would expect of someone who will be asking for your valuable time.

If you’re working with a recruiter ask them any and all questions that you can think of. Most importantly though is to be honest with the recruiter. They are acting as a representative of you and the company you are interviewing with. You need to tell them why you are looking/interviewing, if you are talking with other companies and exactly what your compensation is. It is in the recruiter’s best interest to ensure the best possible match between you and the employer they are representing.

On the day of the interview wear your best conservative suit, shine your shoes, show up 15 minutes early and bring sufficient copies of your resume and project list.

During the interview anything can happen. Be prepared and be flexible. Most likely you will be meeting with busy people and things happen. Be yourself during the interview, show enthusiasm, ask questions, do not criticize your current or past employers, answer questions succinctly, be honest, and be humble. These are people you might be spending the next ten years with! Get to know them and make sure that they get to know you.

After the interview take time to reflect on the situation. Did you like the company/people you met with? Was it what you expected? If not, what was missing? Do you have more questions? What are the pros and cons of staying where you’re at vs. going to the new firm? Is this a good career move? Why is it a good career move?

When you have all the information you need to make a decision, commit yourself heart and soul to the process. If you can’t do that it’s probably not the right situation. Send thank you notes to everyone, recommit to your current role and move on. Time is valuable and it makes no sense to continue the process if you’re not really interested or god forbid, just shopping around for whatever reason.

If you are serious about the new opportunity, send thank you notes to everyone indicating your continued interest.

What happens from here on in has as much to do with you as anything. Your enthusiasm, willingness to be flexible, honesty with the new employer and your recruiter, and your overall “fit” for the job will determine the final outcome of the process, including the offer. Of course people’s schedules, unexpected situations, family, etcetera, can and most often do, come into play. The company you are interviewing with has to follow these rules as well! Like any good relationship both parties have to play by the same rules.

The new employer and your recruiter should have a very specific outline of your entire compensation package and will have discussed money with you on numerous occasions. Again, please make sure that you have been very specific about your compensation package:
– Base salary including last and next increase.
– Bonus potential and bonus history including next bonus date
– Perks
– Benefits
– Car allowances
– Commuting allowances
– Education allowance
– Stock plan
– Partnership plan or potential
– Housing situation and spouse’s employment if relocation is involved
– Pre-existing conditions

In other words, everything that is related to your compensation and more should be laid out.

The offer process cannot be a guessing game. It is not fair to the new employer to have to prepare an offer without all of this information, and it is not fair to you as the end result will usually be an incomplete offer.

As the process evolves it is very important to leave no stones unturned and not to hold back any information. Lack of information and incorrect information from either party is a recipe for disaster.

When you have received an offer it will be expected that if you do not accept the initial offer that you negotiate in good faith. If a counter offer is extended from your current employer you need to contact your recruiter immediately. By this time the counter offer discussion should have taken place and you should have no intention of even considering it, right?

If these guidelines have been followed by the company and the candidate there should be no surprises about the opportunity the motivation for change or the compensation package.

Contact me for more expertise about interviewing with the leading AEC firms in North America.

Posted by Jerry Adams
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