Interview for a job or promotion

Preparation and Sample Interview

Interviewing for any new job is trying. It’s the thing I’ve hated most about any job I’ve ever had, except one! And that job was for a field position where I had to interview hundreds and hundreds of prospective employees nationwide. Guess what? The employers hate it too! They don’t want to have to take time away from work to see yet another person who wastes their time; isn’t qualified or seems disinterested in the whole process. If they make the right choice now, they can go back to working on the business of their business. Your job right now is to make it easier for them to choose you.

When going in for an interview it’s important to look confident; whether or not you really feel that way. The best way to be confident is to be prepared.

1.                          Dress to impress. Have your clothing picked out a week in advance; even if it’s a uniform, have it dry cleaned and pressed.

2.                          Bring at least five extra copies of your resume. All spell –checked and meticulously edited, on fine white paper and smudge free. No happy faces, emoticons, flowers, etc unless you’re going for a creative style position. Even disc jockeys and actors send in resumes on white paper.

3.                           If appropriate, have a list of references that you can give. Name dropping almost always helps.

4.                          An interview isn’t an opportunity to chew someone’s ear off. When asked a question, make eye contact and reply in a professional, personal way that brings your best qualities to the fore.

5.                          It’s sometimes OK to refer to notes; just don’t end up looking like a cop on the witness stand.

6.                          If asked about salary – always a touchy subject –it’s OK to answer a question with a question. For example: “Jim, if we bring you on in this position (or promote you) what are your salary expectations?” A fair reply question is in the order of, “Well, could you tell me the salary range for this position?” Unless you’re a rainmaker, don’t throw out numbers. Ask and wait for the answer. After being given the range, pause for a second and answer something like, “Well of course I’d like to start at the top of the range but as long as there’s growth available, salary won’t be an issue.” This isn’t the time to hammer out salary, you’re just being evaluated.  

7.                          Make a list of questions you want to ask. Hint - when’s my vacation? and what are my days off?  –ain’t on the list. How about things like: What are my responsibilities? Does this position give me the opportunity to advance in the company? What are your expectations of me, Ms.Employer?

8.                          Think back to other interviews you’ve had, good and bad. What did you do right, what got results? Forget any thoughts that you did badly when you didn’t get a past position. There is no perfect interview; you just want to make sure that you are prepared to showcase your best qualities. On the way in, smile to yourself, and reflect back on your successes in life; take that feeling with you to the interview.

9.                          Stop in the restroom as soon as you get in the building. Use the facilites, get a drink of water, check the hair, the clothes, etc.

10.                      Smile, walk out the door and announce yourself to the receptionist, clerk, manager etc. “Hi, I’m Debbie and I’m here to meet Ms. So and So, is she available. Then just follow what happens next.

Remember the 10 and 5 rule:

            At 10 feet make eye contact. At 5 feet stick out your hand for a firm, confident, friendly handshake.

A special note for women:

If a man is interviewing you it’s in your best interest to be even more professional than normal. If you flirt, a reputable company won’t hire you because of possible harassment complaints down the road. If you show any negative or “Soap Opera” style emotions, most men will put you on the ‘round file’ list immediately. Is that because there’s anything wrong with you? No! It’s just that we men can’t handle emotions – Our own or our wives – The last thing a man wants to do is hire someone he thinks will be in his office once a week going through a box of tissues.

So, Debbie, why did you choose Publix to work for?

            After raising two children, my husband and I moved to Georgia and went our separate ways. (Either a positive, matter of fact spin on things or don’t mention them) I was looking for a solid company to work for and my best friend (who also worked for Publix) recommended that I apply.  I loved Publix as a customer and really like people and Kathy sold me on what a great company it is to work for. I thought it would be a great match and it really has been.

Tell us a little bit more about you.

            On the personal side, since coming to Publix, I’ve remarried (very happily), moved to Florida and my daughter has blessed up with two fantastic grandkids, a boy and a girl. (All of it upbeat – nothing about your drunken hubby and his affair with your sister, or how you need the job because bankruptcy is imminent)

            On the business side, I’ve really had the opportunity to work with great people like_____________ and ______________ ……I learned the ropes in Georgia and was promoted to FEC. After transferring here to Florida, Mr.______ showed me how it’s done in Florida. After proving myself to him and Mr._______the district Manager, I’ve moved into FEC (front end coordinator) here. I’m looking forward to the challenge of working with _____________ and___________ and learning all that they have to teach me.

Debbie, where do you see yourself in 5 years?

            As an assistant manger, perhaps even a manager. I’d like to move up as much as I can, not just for the money, (but, the money’s great), but I really like everything about Publix. Especially nowadays, we’re attracting people because of how we treat them. I’ve heard it called a “World Class Experience”. I’ve shopped the competition, both as a consumer before coming to work here and now to see what the other guys are doing.  Publix wins hands down!

Why do you want to be a manager?

            It’s where I feel I can put my background, experience and talents to the best use. I like working with the younger kids on my team and in the store. I’m able to get them to do things, not just because I’m their boss, but because it’s the right thing to do. One of the things that comes with my grey hairs is a feel for how to treat people. Almost all grocery stores sell the same foods. Some stores sell cheaper, although,… we beat the competition across the board on quality and pricing. Our value proposition is customer service. When a customer walks into a Publix, whether it’s in Orlando or West Palm Beach, they’re going to find the things they want and get the service they feel they deserve.

One of the many things I like about Publix is that it’s a team effort. If I have to take a frazzled customer over to the bakery for a last minute party arrangements I know that they’re going to get great service anywhere the store.

How do you deal with rude, surly or obnoxious customers?

            If someone has a legitimate problem with the quality of Publix groceries, I KNOW that it’s a fluke. I can honestly apologize and tell them that we will go the extra mile to fix their problems.

            First, I try to get them away from the flow of traffic so that they don’t feel that they have to show off for an audience and that we can address their needs without other customers becoming upset. I remember the Publix guarantee and use that and a smile to see if I can handle the customers problems. Most times, all it really takes is to listen to someone and allow them to vent and you find out that it isn’t us that they’re upset with, but, that they just got a ticket and are mad and want to take it out on someone.

            If you need to answer more of this question “What about the customers that just aren’t going to be happy, not matter what you do?”

            I realize that as an FEC or manager, I might have to make a decision that will upset someone. I try my hardest not to have that happen, but, when it does, I handle things professionally, honestly and thoroughly and then move on to help the next customer. Publix has built its business on making customers happy. We have the responsibility to a whole store full of people to fulfill their expectations.

Strengths :

            I’m great with people – both customers and co-workers at all levels. I have years of life experience and Publix experience and I can bring out the best in my co-workers. I want customers to remember me as the nice lady who helped them get what they needed to take care of their families.

Weaknesses (Biggest challenges):

            I have to admit that cranky people are my biggest challenge. Not co-workers, because I have a good enough rapport with them to communicate with them and find out why they might be having a bad day.

It’s the consistently cranky customer. I feel that we as a store and I personally bend over backwards to help them and sometimes I take it personally when we don’t win them all over, but, like I said before, it’s about all of the customers.

The other thing (and I’m getting better) is the people who seem to abuse our Publix guarantee. The one’s who steal for example 3 prosciuttos and then turn around and bring them back for a refund, saying that they were unwanted Christmas presents.

Debbie, the people that you’ve worked with have great things to say about you. Tell me more about why you’re the best person for this job:

            Well. Customers have told me that they look forward to coming in and seeing my smiling face. I know they’re here for everything Publix has to offer, and I’m part of that package. In my personal life, I’m the person that people count on, Now, I’m the person that people can count on at Publix. When I was looking for a career, I looked for somewhere where I could use all of who I was as a person and apply that to a winning formula and succeed by learning to do things your way. I love coming to work. I love helping customers and the only problem I have as I’m getting promoted is leaving behind so many great people. BUT, I know that it means that there are MORE great people to work with.

What if you have to fire someone?

            Fortunately, that’s a rare occurrence. The people who either are incapable of doing what’s necessary to work for us, or just want a job would probably be happier somewhere else. It’s never really a surprise when someone doesn’t work out with us and the best outcome is that we still can keep him or her as a happy customer.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

            Only that I’d like to thank you for seeing me; I know you have a lot of candidates. I’d like to assure you that if you put me in this position, I’ll do more than meet the expectations of everyone who has supported me. I will take ownership of my position; lead and train the people under me and be back in here in a year or two interviewing for the next level.

Stand, shake hands while making eye contact and exit gracefully.

Take yourself out for a treat, whether a massage, drink or just a chocolate soda. You did good.

Now go home and write Thank You notes to everyone involved. This is so crucial; I should have put it at the top. Almost No One Ever Does It. Do it! Congratulations. If you don’t get this job, at least use it as preparation for the next one.

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