Executive Recruitment for the Medical Device, Diagnostic and Biotech Industries
Funding for Start-Up Venture
Strategic Alliances

Time For The Interview

When It's Time for the Interview
Preparedness Is Better than Charm.

Interviewing is truly an art form. Many candidates are competing for the same opportunity, so how are you going to make your interview special? If you have read books like "Seven Steps to Interviewing," "Interview Strategies That Lead to Job Offers," or "Power Interviews," you have a basic understanding of interviewing techniques. Your cover letter and resume helped you get in the door, but your interviewing skills will seal the deal. There is no detour around the interviewing process. Effective interviewing skills equal excellent job offers. 

After 25 years of successful medical device and healthcare recruitment of technical and management personnel for top level entrepreneurial and Fortune 500 companies, I have discovered the formula of what information to emphasize and what pitfalls to avoid. However, remember that interviews are merely bridges to reach your destination.

The interviewing process usually consists of an initial phone screening by the recruiter and possibly the hiring authority, face-to-face discussions, a second or third interview as the candidates are culled to a select few, reference checks, job offers and acceptance. Being prepared is the key element and requires homework. Use your own past job-hunting and interviewing experiences as a guide. When I send an applicant out for an interview, I ensure that they have done the essential research and have some knowledge of the company and its practices. They understand the job description, have a background of the interviewing personnel and have studied the products.

Develop a list of questions that you have reliable answers for, including a summation of your career with accomplishments at your fingertips. Know your career objectives, making sure that your abilities and skill sets fit the job opening. You should be able to show progressive upward growth responsibilities leading up to this new position’s requirements. Know the job you want to have in the next 5-15 years, including career aspirations, as they will certainly ask you that question.

Remember also that some questions do not have right or wrong answers—they are simply asked to assess your critical thinking skills. Sizzle phrases include being a team player, finishing projects, being creative, cost savings, creating revenue and having a positive attitude. Be prepared to discuss briefly why you would leave your present position or why you are unemployed. Don’t forget to have a list of questions you want answered, including job growth potential, health benefits, company direction, reporting structure, future products and market share possibilities. 

Each company has its own culture and methods of interfacing with potential employees. It may be required to make an effective personal presentation of an accomplishment at a previous employer or hobby in a group setting, individual meetings or both. I recommend my candidates practice their interviewing skills with family and friends, using their feedback to hone answers succinctly but always being prepared to elucidate when asked.

Material Needed

Make a list of items needed for the interview, and make sure they are operative. If you are making a PowerPoint presentation, have a lap top computer, charts and essential materials for your demonstrations. If you have technical experience, bring examples of your work that are not proprietary and be prepared to discuss the intricacies of your projects, but in reality, they really want to know how you think and process information. 

First impressions are lasting so dress professionally unless you are asked to come casual. If a recruiter represents you, she will show you the ins and outs that may make the difference between success and failure. Stay balanced and focused, but a sense of humor goes a long way. Listening is also a very important asset. Answer the questions asked, and try not to stray and go off on tangents. Being forthright and honest is critical. Be friendly and attentive, use direct eye contact and don’t be afraid to say you don’t know the answer to a question.

You can address any unanswered questions in a thank-you note. Remember that after you leave the interview, there will be an internal company meeting to discuss your viability for the designated position or other potential opportunities within. Therefore, make sure you give the same answers to all in the company or they will think you are full of hot air. At the same time, feel out the interviewer; try to find common ground, whether it is work-related or extracurricular. Many times when debriefing an employee, I hear about common interests such as sailing or car racing or some similar passions that are shared.

At the end of each interview session, smile, thank the employer for his time, shake his hand and, if appropriate, indicate your strong interest in the position and inquire about the next step to joining the company. If possible, defer compensation issues to your recruiter or until a match is imminent and a comfort level has been reached. Strike a balance between enthusiasm and being over eager and desperate, as that attitude can result in a low-ball offer.

Follow up is important. In this fast-paced world I recommend candidates send a brief thank-you by e-mail; it is the most effective and efficient, so remember to obtain a business card from each interviewer. Make sure you hit all salient points. Be flexible and ready for second or subsequent interviews as it is in your best interest.

If your recruiter has matched your needs closely to the position, compensation issues including salary, bonuses, stock options and performance review should be in the same ballpark as your expectations. As the interviewing process is coming to fruition and an offer is imminent, this is the time to express your expectations, so the recruiter can massage an acceptable offer that results in a win-win situation. Use his expertise to find out what a real deal is, not what is in your imagination.

Learning from Failure

If you don’t get the job, find out why. Discussing the details of the interview process and strategizing with your recruiter is critical and improves your interviewing skills. Also, remember the more interviews you go on the easier the process becomes. You might not get every job, but you should learn from every interview. 

I can't overemphasize the importance of excellent interviewing techniques. In today’s fluctuating economy, everyone should keep his or her interviewing skills honed and resumes updated. Actively utilize resources available, including outsourcing and employment agencies, classes, instructional books and the Internet. Stay positive about the process. If you are not chosen for one job, start preparing for the next one. Analyze your interview. Stay patient and rely on your best instincts. If it is the right job for you, everything will fall into place, and your dream job will become a reality.