Interview Preparation Guide
You do not have to be a football fan to understand why the New England Patriots win. It’s “preparation.” The game is not won on game day, it is won during the week in practice. Our goal is to help you maximize your effort and gain more job offers. But we can only lead you so far, at a certain point your drive to succeed and your preparation must take over.
In addition to this page, we have handpicked the best interview preparation videos for you. Our candidate preparation is second to none. We suggest your preparation should start immediately after your first interview with us, culminated with a detailed call the night before your interview (or the days leading up to your interview). Remember that chance favors the prepared mind!
- Mental Approach
Create a moral compass to help guide your answers. Whenever you have the choice between two potential answers choose the one most in line with your moral compass. Clients do not want to hire financially motivated candidates who are only interested in what’s in it for them. Focus your answer on what you can bring to the Client. Consider JFK’s quote "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country".
- Pedal to the metal
No job is worth undertaking unless you complete the task to your highest capability. There is no point starting any interview process unless you tackle it with a winning mindset. If you hear a negative in the beginning of the interview that turns you off, fight through it because you may hear something later that turns you back on. Never stop trying because, always have the petal to the medal. If you stop trying so will the interviewer.
- The Interview Process
The interview process is slightly different with each client. Most conduct soft skill & technical phone interviews culminating with an onsite interview. All travel expenses are taken care of by the client. Everyone you meet in this process wants you to succeed. The recruiter wants you to succeed because their performance is graded on the hires they make. The hiring unit wants you to succeed because they need help, and management wants you to succeed so they can grow the unit. The average phone interview lasts 30 minutes. As previously mentioned our candidates are often graded “high probability” and a lot of the time skip the soft skill interview. Your only goal in any interview is to be invited to the next round. If invited to the face-to-face interview wear a suit. Try to get to the airport earlier and get your shoes shined. Bring the planned outfit to the dry cleaner earlier that week so that it’s crisp. Looking the part separates candidates that are deemed equal in all other areas. You will know the agenda from your Exclusively SAP Recruiter. Make sure to bring an equal number of resumes to protect you against interviewers not having a copy. The worst answer when asked “do you have questions” is saying you have none. Prepare questions and bring them on 3×5 index cards to show that you have done your homework. It is important to complete the Interview Feedback Form (IFF) you received directly after your interview, while things are freshest in your mind. This assists us in getting you the best possible offer. Detailed feedback demonstrates to the client that we know exactly what went on and our written interview feedback is a value add to the client that helps us separate you from others.
- Telephone Interview Tips
The good & the bad. The good. They are easy to schedule & attend. The phone interview is on your home-court. You can be surrounded by support material you could not use face to face. A copy of your resume, note pads, water, portfolios are only fingertips away. The bad. On a phone interview you can’t see the interviewer’s reaction to any answer, good or bad. Bad answers need to be corrected on the spot. Good answers need to be re-enforced. Silence after any answer should be the interpreted the same way as if on a face to face seeing the interviewer cringe. If it happens you need to find out why. It could be the interviewer was interrupted, it could be a signal to you that they don’t like your answer, or it could be a trick to see if your consulting skills are sharp enough to pick up on it. Put the onus on them to tell you why. A good technique is to benchmark yourself every 15-20 minutes by asking “are you getting the information you need?” This ensures the interview is on track to the next steps. Don’t be shy about allowing your personality to shine through by asking if you made it to the next round. In sales your taught to ask for the order. An interview is sales and you’re the product.
The purpose of the telephone screen is to confirm that you are who your resume says are. In other words, 'scratch & sniff' test! J Always give your interviewer a landline number (if possible) once he / she initiated the call to your cell.
Travel – it is inevitable that the interviewer will bring up the issue of travel. Any pause or hesitation will be a red flag. The only 'right' answer is "I have no problem with the travel requirements." Confirmation of submitted base salary and bonus – The interviewer will confirm this information and often ask at this point "what is it you are looking to earn?" If this occurs, we strongly suggest that you say, "I am very career motivated and am most concerned with the role and accompanying responsibilities, as such I have every confidence in your fair market qualities and will entertain your best possible offer!"
Today most recruiters are digging deeper and are really looking to affirm that you are career minded and need to confirm that you are realistic about the kind of dollars that you’re apt to receive should an offer be extended. For this reason, I encourage you to take your lead from your interviewer and do engage in an honest discussion regarding your desired ‘target’ base salary. If you consider that I, as your external agent am acting in your best interest, consider your recruiter as your internal agent dealing directly with the Partners and is the person in the best position to speak on your behalf. If the internal recruiter likes, trusts, and believes in you (chemistry), the process will be seamless! Career Progression and Light Technical Discussion – The interviewer will be interested in learning what motivated you to leave one opportunity for another – to get a sense of your decision–making process and thinking. He / She will also want to understand (on a light level) what you are doing currently that enables you to be a good candidate for this position.
Interview Etiquette / Strategy – The telephone screen will usually last 25-30 minutes. During the first half of the interview, please refrain from asking ANY questions. The interviewer has a set agenda that he or she must complete – they are carefully selected and formulated questions, and therefore your responsibility is to 'help' the interviewer complete his / her due diligence. If you do your job properly in the first half, then in the second half of the conversation the interviewer will be excited to 'sell' their opportunity to you! It is at this point in the conversation that you can detect a shift in tone and know that you have done well.
Even if the interviewer asks if you have any questions, it is advisable in this first screen to avoid asking any questions. There will be opportunities to ask questions later in the process. If the interviewer says something that you do not understand and need to query, please feel free to ask. This call, the initial screening, is not the venue for Q&A. Asking questions too early in the process may lead the interviewer to wrong conclusions. The goal of the telephone screen is to get to the next step!
- Why You’re Looking
One of the most frequent questions in an interview is “why you are looking?” No company wants to hire someone else’s problem, so never speak ill of your current employer or direct supervisor. The best answer is to say, “I’m not actively looking but my recruiter thought this could be the next step in my career development and I agreed to talk with you.” Companies love feeling they have “poached” a star performer from a competitor. Position yourself in this light and you become sought after “prey.”.
- Your Elevator Pitch
Your answer to “Tell me about yourself”. You can’t underestimate the importance of a well thought out elevator pitch. You must be able to articulate who you are, what you do and why you want to work for a company. You only get one shot at a good first impression, so a well-constructed elevator pitch is key. Your elevator pitch could be 3 well-constructed thoughts/sentences summarizing what you have done, what you’re currently doing and what you can bring to the company. What are your strengths? What are your development areas? Where do you see yourself in five years? What has been the best position you’ve held and why? Reflect on two or three past projects and then frame value points. Some of the best elevator pitches are the ones that bring your resume to life and make it worthy of discussion. Highlight key positions of responsibility or positions that enabled you to develop. Express any key milestones in certain jobs that help convey why you are the candidate to consider. Just like resumes evolve and grow over time as an individual changes roles or companies, so too should your elevator pitches.
- Your Delivery
We believe the clearer and more articulate you are in delivering who you are, what you do and why you want a certain position may result in your name being placed at the top of the call back list. Sound interested and energized by the opportunity to interview, be fluid and dynamic in your communication style.
- Transferable Skills
Are talents and abilities you have developed over time through your involvement in a variety of activities such as jobs, volunteering, athletics, school, etc. These skills are often overlooked or understated. However, your transferable skills may be your strongest asset during your job search. To determine what your transferable skills are you should identify what you need for the desired job, what you have to offer, and how things line up. The trick is showing employers how they apply to their job. If your employment history comes from the same industry this might be quite easy. However, if you have limited experience in the industry of the company you’re interviewing with, recognizing and demonstrating your transferable skills may require a bit more effort. First, start by considering your work experience. Examine every aspect of your role including day-to-day responsibilities and various tasks you’ve handled. Then break down the steps involved and identify the combination of skills that each required. Finally, compare your list of skills to the list of desired skills and see where there is overlap. Those are your transferable skills. You can also look for transferable skills outside of the workplace. This is especially important if you’re re-entering the workforce after an extended period of unemployment or if you’re a recent graduate. We encourage job seekers to cite specific examples of how and when the skills were applied. The more specific the better. For example: describing how you handled conflict on a project is much more effective than saying that you are “good at handling conflict.” Behavioral interviewing techniques require interviewers to probe for these real-life examples, so it’s a great idea to have some examples ready.
- Talking Money
This information is on your Profile / Data Sheet so any questions on this topic are to confirm not discover. Never change the number mid-stream as it creates credibility issues. It’s a shame when you ace interview but get disqualified because you changed compensation numbers. The proper formula for money is to always quote the numbers to which you and your recruiter agreed. When asked, state that today your goal was to impress and so all money matters can be discussed with your recruiter. Usually at the beginning of a process, most employers will accept the deflection and move on. However, at the end of the process they might ask what you are looking for. The cardinal rule is never to mention a number because it may be less than they are prepared to pay. Always come back with “what do you think is fair”. Never use the term “what are you offering,” it makes you seem sound mercenary.
All positions are on Exclusively SAP website. Print a copy of the opportunity in consideration and put it beside your resume and try to read your resume through the eyes of the client. This exercise will help you anticipate potential interview questions, so you can prepare answers to them. Your answers should flow freely without hesitation.
- Un-Scheduled Interview
“Chance favors the prepared mind.” Prepare early, often, and thoroughly. In most cases our customer will ask us to arrange interviews. The exception is when the customer likes catching you off-guard or has a free moment. In either case, never sound surprised as this gives the impression we never talked to you and weren’t given your consent. Your best response is saying something like, “thank you for the call, my recruiter advised me you might.” If the call comes to you and you are in the middle of something politely say so and reschedule for later that day or the following day. Never suggest a time beyond 72-96 hours as this may give the interviewer the impression that you’re not that interested. All contact with the employer needs to be reported back to your recruiter ASAP so they know they have a follow-up to make on your behalf. Fill out the IFF ASAP and send it to your recruiter.
If possible, try to match the speech cadence of the person interviewing you. If you are talking to a New Yorker and you are from the South, you may want to step it up a notch. If you are the New Yorker talking to the Southerner, you may want to slow it down.
- Job Boards
Candidates that have their resumes on all the major boards are sometimes deemed not worthy given the level of interest they are exhibiting in changing jobs. For this reason, you may want to consider temporarily deactivating your resume while working with us. All our employers use the same boards as you so if they find you it leaves them feeling less enthusiastic. You can re-activate yourself after we are done if there is a need. But we know there won’t be! The last thing you want is your new employer finding you on a job board after being hired. “Trolling” for a new job after having just started one leaves a very bad impression.