This is the second part of a three-part blog about the Career Advancement Clinic panel held in October 2015 by PMI MassBay. We had 3 hiring managers from Healthcare IT, Financial Services and Clinical Trials/Life Sciences on the panel.
The second topic discussed was lessons learned from interviewing. What do candidates do well and what should they look out for when interviewing. The conversation was lively and the well received. The audience was encouraged to ask questions and for clarification from the panelists and boy did they. This was an engaging and well received topic with some very interesting questions and some very honest feedback from the panelists.
What can a candidate do to make a good and lasting impression in an interview? Candidates need to be prepared before the interview. This includes researching the company, the person you are interviewing with, and having examples at the ready when explaining your experience and why you are a good fit for the role. It is fairly simple to research a company online by using their website and a host of other research sites. Know enough to be able speak intelligently about the basics – what they do, what their challenges are: competitors etc, and why it is of interest to you. Depending on the role, you may need to dig deeper into the financials and market standing. Use LinkedIn to research the person you are interviewing with that day. Most of the panelist admit that they look on LinkedIn to see if a candidate has accessed their profile. This does not mean to be a stalker, rather see if any similarities with your profile and experience so that you have some conversation starters. The last point is having examples to use to explain your experience. Candidates should know their story and be ready to relate a real life experience when answering a question. An example may be, when I ran into that situation at prior company A, this is how I approached it, these were the challenges, and these were the outcomes of my action plan. Keep the story concise and use the word “I” when you can to show what you did. Feel free to use “we” when more resources were needed to resolve the issue.
What do candidates commonly do wrong in an interview? The answers received some nervous laughter as people could relate to the comments directly in some cases. Dress code and hygiene were discussed as the easy fixes. Candidates are advised to ask the interview scheduler/recruiter what the dress code is for the interview. This is the only first impression a candidate will be able to make so make sure you understand what is expected. Not all companies are suit and tie and not all are jeans and sneakers so ask before you make any assumptions. Take pride in your appearance. Some of the panelists like to see pops of color and style in their candidates to show personality or flair while others in financial services may expect blue or black suits. Overall be clean and neat, walk in with confidence and when shaking hands keep the handshake firm and look the interviewer in the eye.
The comments were received positively by the audience and sparked further discussion. The feedback was real and each person had a list of takeaways from this meeting. We look forward to producing more events like this one in the future.
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written by John Todd. John is a volunteer Board member for PMI Massbay and a Partner at Downtown Recruiting Inc, a boutique Executive Recruiting and Contract Placement agency in Boston specializing in Project and Product Management. Visit our website at downtownrecruiting.com to become a client today.