The Day of the Interview
You’ve arrived within enough time to check out the location, and then head somewhere nearby for coffee. Remember, you only want to be about ten minutes early. You catch a glimpse of yourself in that smart-casual interview attire. Looking good!
You stroll in ten minutes early, almost as though you planned ahead. The receptionist, Pam, admires your good timekeeping skills – she’s bound to pass it on to the head honchos at HR.
After a 5 minute wait the door swings open – Michael Scott greets you with a generous smile and a hearty handshake. You reciprocate because you’re feeling relaxed, having spent the night before preparing with THIS interview cheat sheet. He leads you in to The Office, and takes his place behind his executive-looking desk. This is it.
Scott introduces himself, and Toby Flenderson, who found you on JobLab. He tells you that they really liked your profile and were keen to meet you. Nice! First impression = made. Then, out of nowhere, he jumps straight in with the first question:
This is the classic “What do you know about the company?” question, and shows employers whether or not you did your interview prep. We hope you did!
Strong answer: I know Dunder Mifflin was founded in 1976, and has gone on to open 5 branches across the states. You’re the number one paper manufacturer of paper products in North East America. I’m a real fan of your 90gsm semi-gloss stock.
Weak answer: Erm, you sell paper products… Sorry, I’ve drawn a blank!
Another classic question, which tells employers whether or not you really want a job with them.
Strong answer: The job description was what first attracted me, as I’m a salesperson through and through. I find the paper industry particularly dynamic, and when I’m interested in the product I find selling easy. Dunder Mifflin itself has a reputation as a market leader, but I can see you have a small team. I like the idea of being part of a small but highly ambitious team.
Weak answer: I really want a full time job because I’d like to save up to go travelling. I have a year-long trip planned and obviously I need to save. I really like sales as well.
Michael Scott needs to know you can provide clear answers to his questions. When sharing previous experiences, make sure your answers are concise and relevant.
Strong answer: When I worked for Happy-Go-Lucky Toy Factory I had a closing ratio of 50% and often over fulfilled my quota. In one quarter I pitched Mr Zucchini Head to 42 different outlets and managed to get 38 of those clients, which was 22% over my quota for the quarter.
Weak answer: Yeah I have worked to targets before. In my last job we had to reach different targets every day and I usually beat them. Most of the time the customers were very pleased with the world-class customer service I delivered. Vague!!
M.S. isn’t interested in faux-modesty. He wants to know if you can identify your own strengths as an employee in this line of work.
Strong answer: I am persuasive and results oriented, and I think they’re all valuable assets for a sales person to have.
Weak answer: I think I have really good banter. I’m really funny, I’d make everyone in the office laugh all day.
Sensing Michael’s rapidly growing jealousy, Toby steps in. He wants to know you are a reasonable, rational human being who can handle conflict in a civilised way.
Strong answer: If I found myself in a conflictual situation I would find a quiet moment to take them aside and discuss our issues openly. If we couldn’t resolve it, I’d ask for HR to mediate.
Weak answer: I haven’t been in many conflictual situations with co-workers, but when I have found myself fighting with a colleague I’ve usually tried to take them aside and let them know I won’t take their sh*t. The only way to handle people like that is to be assertive or else they’ll walk all over you.
This question is tricky. You should aim to be as honest as possible, but you might not see yourself at Dunder Mifflin in five years. Don’t let them know that. You should discuss general career goals (and how this job would help you achieve them) and if you can mention opportunities for development within the company, all the better.
Strong answer: Within the next five years I would like to have continued to develop my skills as a salesperson, but I would like to have advanced within the management structure and perhaps deliver training in sales. To be honest, I’m open to any opportunities for development as they arise. I still see myself in this city, perhaps having saved enough to buy my own home.
Weak answer: I’d like to try a few different things. I don’t know. I’m still learning about me.
Michael Scott suddenly says “Well!” very loudly, claps his hands together and turns to look at Toby. Toby thanks you for coming, saying it was a pleasure to meet you – and asks you if you have any questions for them? You ask when you could expect to hear back. They tell you “within the next couple of days” and thank you for coming, once again.
(For more tips on the best questions you could possibly ask, check out – Interview Cheat Sheet #2)
The bottom line? Research the company you’re interviewing with thoroughly, and give clear, relevant answers that you can back up. BS is unfortunately very obvious in an interview situation and employers could be turned off by vague responses!
While you’re waiting for them to make their mind up, check out our post on following up an interview here.