September 26 2007 - A survey of 150 senior US executives on behalf of
specialized recruitment firm Robert Half Finance & Accounting found that it took them only 10 minutes to form an
opinion of job seekers during initial interview, even though the average time spent was 55 minutes with junior and
intermediate applicants and 86 minutes with management-level candidates.
Kim Smith, division director of Robert Half Finance & Accounting in Auckland said:
"The interview begins the moment the job seeker arrives, so applicants need to project enthusiasm and
confidence consistently from the start. The opening minutes of the conversation set the tone and direction for the
rest of the interview. You do not get a second chance to make a good first impression, so it is vital to prepare
especially well for the first few interview questions, even if they may seem casual and not related to work at first."
The report offers advice on how to answer five common interview questions:
- Can you tell me a little about yourself? Briefly discuss your professional goals and interests as they relate to the job. Do not discuss your hobbies or what you do outside work - your answer should help the interviewer see why you are specifically the right person for the position and the organization.
- What do you know about our firm? Research the business and organization before the interview. Be prepared to describe how your experience and skills will help you contribute to the success of the firm.
- Why do you want to work here? Whether it may be the company's values, history of its success or its reputation within the industry that attracted you, respond in a way that shows you understand the organization's priorities and objectives.
- Why are you looking to leave your current position? Keep your answer focused on the opportunity - for example, a chance to advance your career. Remain positive and avoid being negative about your current colleagues and bosses.
- What is your most significant professional accomplishment? Cite an achievement that shows your ability to deliver tangible results. For example, "In 2006, I was instrumental in growing the company's revenues by 27 per cent to $1.2 million through marketing and advertising initiatives set by my team."
In addition to accurate and positive responses to interview questions, body language and dress are
Kim Smith added:
"Being appropriately dressed, smiling, maintaining good eye contact and a firm handshake are all critical in those first 10 minutes. Everyone feels nervous during the first interview - the trick is to project confidence in your skills and suitability for the job despite any nervousness you might feel. A job candidate should view the interview as a learning process and with practice and time, he or she will grow to fine tune their interview skills."