An Applicant’s preparedness can be broken
down into three very distinct topics: Skills
Preparation, Mental Preparation, and Interviewing
Techniques. Each of these topics is equally important
in the scope of our objectives. It is important to pay
special attention to each and every point so that it can be
adapted to our situations. The consulting industry does
not adhere to any particular placement methodology, but
being aware and staying alert can, in the end, allow all of
us to benefit.
There is a commonly accepted misconception
that once you had performed successfully at a prior client,
that all subsequent projects will be completed with equal
amount of competence. Keep in mind that while with one
employer you concentrate only on skills used in that
environment and "forget" all else. Each new
project should be treated as if you are being hired for the
first time. All areas of deficiency must be identified and
addressed prior to any interview.
Are your technical skills, as they pertain to the new
employer’s environment, current? If not, what review steps
do you need to take?
Review all material related to the technical environment.
There are many details which we all tend to forget.
able to discuss the most complex project you have worked on
in a similar environment.
Review the client's applications environment. Be prepared
to relate it to your experience. Look for similarities, not
Review the tasks and sub tasks contained in a project life
cycle. Be prepared to discuss how you would perform each and
give examples of prior projects. Be especially prepared to
discuss test plans and test methodologies as these are
always client hot buttons.
Brush up on the steps used to debug programs and complex
BACKGROUND: Review the chronology of your
work experience. One of a client's favorite questions is
"Tell me what you've done.” Keep answers in perspective to
the client's needs.
Every project assignment offers challenges
and opportunities. It is important to project a positive
mental attitude. The following points will help you to
portray yourself as mentally alert:
Ensure that the mind is well rested. If the interview
is in the morning, you should get a good night's rest.
If it is in the day, you should take a 15‑20 minute walk
prior to the appointment to purge your mind of other
Every client project has both positive and negative
aspects. You should recognize that both conditions present
a challenge and prepare for all opportunities. "Get
yourself up for a new experience".
One of the worst things anyone can do is to go into an
interview worked up into a ball of nerves. Most people that
are extremely nervous miss the most obvious answers. The
only reason you have been presented is because you can do
the job. Everyone is nervous before and during an
interview. You must legitimatize nervousness to yourself.
It is important to note that when a person is nervous and
the adrenaline is flowing, the person is more attentive and
all answers given are crisp and to the point. The danger of
being too relaxed is that it will project a cavalier and
arrogant demeanor thus undermining the interview.
Everyone has an ego. You must send yours to the back of the
line. You are bound to be asked questions to which you
don’t know the answer. You must recognize and accept it as
a fact of life.
You should review all the positive things that have occurred
in your career as well as your greatest accomplishments.
This will cause you to think positively of yourself and your
abilities. A posture that will show during the interview.
Next the preparation should consist of tips
on how to successfully take an interview. The following must
If are late, the client will question your work
ethic. If the client is late, show compassion.
He/she is probably a very busy person or may be nervous
about the interview.
You should always wear professional attire. Dark business
suit, white shirt/blouse, polished shoes, and be properly
groomed. The wrapping helps sell the package.
Start the interview with a firm handshake and a warm smile.
Stand and sit straight; don’t slump in the chair; do not
fidget; don’t smoke; don’t chew gum; maintain good eye
You must pay special attention to the client's current
environment. Most interviews start with the question "what
do you know about my environment?” Whether or not the
question is asked, look for the opportunity to say "I have
been given some details on your assignment and environment;
can you explain in your words, what are your primary
goals." This will alleviate some of the interviewer's
anxiety by allowing him to talk about something they know
well. At the same time, it indicates interest on your part
and gives you the opportunity to mentally relate your
experience to the client's needs.
Pay special attention to what is being said and address your
statements to the points under discussion only. Nobody
likes a rambler. When unsure about a question, you should
ask the interviewer to repeat the question. Most people are
not great communicators so that when rephrasing a question,
part of the answer will also be revealed.
This will also show to the client your interest while
alleviating the possibility of misunderstanding questions.
You should not be afraid to take some time before answering
a question. No one likes an impulsive answer, especially if
it is wrong.
You should never speak negatively about a prior experience
or person. All comments regarding past projects,
employers, subordinates and peers should be kept positive.
You should ask intelligent questions and stress the business
application area. If a client feels that you are interested
in the success of his/her organization, he’ll/she’ll be more
inclined to want you on his/her team.
You should never give any indication that a task is beneath
you. You must convey the attitude of being a professional
who will react in an equally positive light to all aspects
of the job. If asked about working overtime, doing
maintenance tasks, documentation, mundane testing, etc., you
should always share these thoughts you’re your recruiter
prior to being presented to avoid any discomfort during the
You should always speak simply and explain the terms you
use. You may be more competent than the interviewer and
embarrassing the client is disadvantageous.
If the interview occurs over lunch, you MUST NOT
drink, even if the client does. If the interview occurs
after hours, client's lead should be followed. If the
client does not drink, neither should you. If the client
does, you should limit yourself to one. You will be sharper
and may have already passed one of the tests.
Avoid using qualifiers. Qualifiers are: I did it once, six
months ago, only, rusty, etc. Using qualifiers discounts
the answer before you get a chance to show the client how
much you really know. When asked: "Have you done it....?",
the answer must be: "Yes I have and this is what I have
When giving answers, you should use full sentences. Yes or
No answers do not give the client a full understanding of
When answering a question correctly, you should give as
complete an answer as you can. By covering the topic
completely you show an ability to recollect information,
exhibits a solid depth of knowledge and most of all
maintains a subtle control of the interview by preventing
the interviewer from asking any additional questions. This
approach can have a dual affect. It can really secure the
position or may open the doors to a more in‑depth
interview. A perfectly good answer to an in-depth question
would be: "I have not been exposed to this level of detail”
This answer would divert the interviewer from questions
unrelated to your background.
If you do not have the answer to a question, there are two
ways of responding to the client. The first is to say: "No
I have not done it." and drop the topic, which is the wrong
response. The right response would be to pause for a few
seconds and think back on any and all past projects and
liken them to the topic at hand. This would show the
interviewer your ability to draw on your experience, an
ability to recollect information, an ability to think and
most of all would turn a negative in your background, as it
pertains to this project, into a positive.
One of the most important rules for taking an interview is
NEVER to argue with the interviewer. If the answer
given by you is correct but differs from that of the
interviewer than the consultant is "wrong" and the client
is "right". The best way to respond to differing
answers is for you to say: "You have just given me a
different perspective on this topic. Whenever I was faced
with this problem, I solved it in the way I had described.
When I get back to my office I will try your method.” This
response will have a tremendous impact on the interview.
First, it will attach credibility to the client's
knowledge. Second, if the client realized his mistake then
the consultant allowed the client to "save face". Third,
the consultant showed the client an ability to accept ideas
other than his own, thus being able to work in a team
There are situations where there is instant dislike between
you and interviewer. This is perfectly normal and
acceptable. What is not acceptable is for you to allow
yourself to show these emotions to the client. Let us
assume that it was the project and not the client that
turned you off. By conveying your negative feelings to
the client you have assured yourself of never working on
that client's site while this manager is in its employ.
Leaving the client feeling good about the interview has many
positive effects. It assured you the ability to be presented there
again, It protects
credibility in that we were able to bring in a good
candidate; and permits ProStar
to bring in the next candidate. Any and all ill
feelings should be conveyed to your recruiter after the
interview and allow the recruiter to shut down the process.
During an interview instant "love" can
develop between interviewer and interviewee. This can be a
double edged sword. Inasmuch as it can be helpful in
placing you, it can also undermine the interview. You can
develop a false sense of security thus saying more than is
required. What will happen is that you will fail the
interview. It is OK to feel good about the client and the
project, what is not OK is to cross the fine
line that exists between the interviewer and interviewee.
In an interview, the conversation can frequently move off
course. The interviewer may want to speak on topics totally
unrelated to the technologies on the project. The topics to
stay away from would be those that elicit personal opinions,
for example: politics, sports, religion, etc. More than
likely the opinions of the interviewer will differ from
yours. The one who would always loose in that discussion
would be YOU. The proper way to react, when the
conversation broaches those topics, is to acknowledge that
the interviewer is speaking and reacting to the
interviewer’s mood. For example if the topic covers
something positive, the response should be: "This sounds
terrific.", and when the topic deals with negative issues,
respond by saying: "That is really too bad.” This way you
will carry on a conversation without really expressing your
The interview should be finished on an up note. A warm
smile, a firm handshake and a positive comment, such as "I
am looking forward to working with you" will complete the