By Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck, Crosswalk.com
Cracking the Interview Code: 24 Essential Do's and Don'ts
Often, one candidate will get the job over others based on "slight communication" differences in the interview. Like a horse race where one horse wins by a nose, so too in interviews, one candidate is chosen over others based on slight differences. We will address these subtle differences that you can practice to better describe how you can meet the employer's needs.
This list of do's and don'ts is good to review before every job interview. Implementing one or more of these do's and don'ts could make the difference in being offered a meaningful, purposeful job that is a calling instead of having to settle for "just a job."
The Do's of Successful Interviewing
1. Pray for God's Guidance
Take time to pray that God will help you to showcase your God-given strengths for the opening and communicate well how your knowledge and skills can address the organization's needs. If you are nervous, pray that God will keep you calm with a clear mind.
2. Research the Organization (Especially Focusing on Their Needs)
Before the interview, research the organization. You can do this easily by Googling the organization's name. Take time to read many of their website pages, including their mission statement. Read any relevant news reports about the employer. Also, sites such as Yelp.com and Glassdoor.com will often have reviews about the employer. When you focus on the organization and the employer's needs, you will be more relaxed because you will focus on something other than your needs of employment and salary.
3. Research Your God-Given Gifts
God has given you gifts to manage, including spiritual gifts, interests, values, personality traits, preferred roles, and skills (transferable skills, personal skills, and content skills). Researching and naming those strengths allows you to identify the talents needed in your target job.
Unfortunately, 80% of job hunters can't describe their top ten skills for the job they are applying for, leading to a delay in finding employment.
Would you like help describing your skills, interests, and motivations? If so, career assessments like the Career Fit Test can help you better understand and communicate your top skills (transferable, personal, and content skills) and how you would excel in the job.
4. Ask This Question Before the Interview
As you are setting up the interview, here is a key question for the employer.
"As I prepare for the interview, can you tell me what problems you would like the person you hire to address within the next year?"
If you ask this question before an interview, you can learn what needs are most important to the employer. Learning about the employer's most critical needs will provide you with the opportunity during the interview to connect your strengths with their needs. If you don't get a chance to ask this question before the interview, you should have an opportunity during the interview.
5. Be Punctual
Arrive at the interview location about 10 minutes early. Punctuality demonstrates respect for the interviewer's time and shows your commitment to the position. You can use the extra time to review the do's and don't in this article.
6. Be Prepared with Extra Resumes and Other Documents
Bring extra resumes and any other documents the interviewer or committee may need for the interview.
7. Be Prepared to Share Details of Your Mission, Purpose, and Calling
Practice sharing your enthusiasm for the job and how it fits what you feel called to do. If you have developed a mission statement, you can integrate it while answering interview questions. A mission statement should include your transferable, personal, and content skills. It should also have the needs you are enthusiastic about helping meet.
Here is an example: As a creative and imaginative web designer, my mission is to use my skills in designing, improving, and synthesizing, and my knowledge of graphic design and visual arts to help small business owners develop a successful personal brand online.
If you would like help developing your mission statement, assessment tools, like the Career Fit Test, can help you describe the work you feel called to do. You will stand out from others interviewing for the same job when you share how the job fits your best skills and the needs you are enthusiastic about helping to meet.
8. Consider Preparing a 30, 60, and 90-Day Plan
A 30, 60, and 90-day plan is precisely what its name implies: a formal document outlining your strategic goals and objectives for 30, 60, and 90 days upon entering a new position. One key aspect of this plan is ensuring you take the time to get to know your new colleagues. Within the first 30 days, aim to develop strong relationships and become comfortable working with your new team. In the following 60 days, thoroughly understand the organization. Researching and gathering key insights will deepen your knowledge and help you navigate any conversation about the organization confidently. Finally, within the first 90 days, aim to achieve the goals set out by your employer.
Preparing a solid 30, 60, and 90-day plan will help you to stand out from other candidates. If you are selected, it will also help you to be more successful on the job. This article provides more detail on how to use this strategy.
9. Make a Good First Impression
Your first impression is crucial, so start on the right foot. Address the interviewer respectfully, using "Mr." or "Ms." along with their last name. Allow them to guide you in terms of formality. Maintain a warm smile, offer a firm handshake, make eye contact, and exude confidence through body language.
10. Practice Answering Frequently Asked Interview Questions Using ChatGPT
ChatGPT and other AI tools are excellent for answering frequently asked interview questions. You can use prompts such as "Write 20 frequently asked interview questions for a senior pastor opening."
You can then ask the AI software to provide suggested answers on how to prove that you are the right candidate for the position. Use the suggestions to develop your own answers.
11. Listen Actively
Pay close attention to the questions and comments made during the interview. Ensure your responses are concise and relevant. If a question is unclear, don't hesitate to ask for clarification. Take a moment to gather your thoughts before responding.
12. Focus On the Job
Unless explicitly asked to do otherwise, center your discussion around matters related to the job for which you are interviewing. Avoid going off-topic or discussing personal issues unrelated to the role. For example, when asked, "Tell me about yourself?" don't share personal information; instead, use this question to describe how your skills and experience will meet the employer's needs.
13. Describe your Commitment and Enthusiasm
Emphasize your commitment to and enthusiasm about the organization's mission, your understanding of the job duties, and your motivation to do excellent work.
14. Provide Specific Skill Statements with Results
Back up your claims and "selling points" with specific examples from your experiences.
For instance, instead of merely stating your skills, illustrate them with accomplishments like, "I developed a new program that led to a 20% increase in attendance." Be prepared with 10-20 specific skill statements that also have results in terms of numbers, percentages, and dollar figures.
15. Describe Your Strengths and Accomplishments
Confidently express your qualifications and accomplishments in a way that shows how you can meet the employer's needs. Offer an honest and accurate portrayal of your capabilities while emphasizing your genuine interest in the role.
16. Speak Confidently
Project confidence and enthusiasm in your tone of voice. Your passion for the job and organization should be evident in your communication.
17. Ask Thoughtful Questions During the Interview
Prepare well-thought-out and relevant questions to ask the interviewer. Inquire about the organization's mission, vision, and values.
Find out the timeline for the hiring process and when you can expect to hear back. One key question is, "What problems and goals would you like the right person to address in the first year?" This article describes more questions that you can consider asking.
18. Send a Thank You Letter
Send an email thank you message as soon as possible after the interview. If you want to stand out even more, consider sending a "snail mail" thank you letter in addition to an email thank you. Rarely do employers receive written thank you letters. Here are more thank you letter strategies.
The Don'ts of Successfully Interviewing
1. Avoid Dominating the Interview
Maintain professionalism by refraining from dominating the conversation. Asking the employer or search committee questions will help to ensure the interview remains a balanced dialogue rather than a monologue.
2. Stay Clear of Criticism and Negativity
Avoid being critical or negative about past employers or colleagues. Such behavior can raise concerns about your attitude and conduct within the new organization.
3. Don't Beg or Boast
Avoid coming across as desperate or overly confident. Instead, strive for a balanced, humble demeanor reflecting your true character.
4. Don't View the Job as a Stepping Stone
While career growth is essential, refrain from implying that the role you are interviewing for is merely a stepping stone to something else. For example, a candidate for a youth pastor position may desire to be an associate or senior pastor one day, but in the interview, they need to communicate their genuine interest in the youth pastor position. Focus on how your gifts can meet the needs of the opening, your enthusiasm for the job, and your commitment to the organization.
5. Don't Initiate Salary or Benefit Discussions
Wait for the employer to bring up salary, benefits, or other compensation-related matters.
Prematurely discussing these aspects can create an impression that your primary motivation is financial. The exception is when you are offered the job and need to know all the compensation details.
Here are more details on negotiating your salary and earning 1000 dollars a minute through research and asking the right questions.
6. Use Concise Responses
Avoid going into excessive detail during your responses. Aim for answers around 60 seconds long to keep the conversation engaging and on track. Don't rush through your responses; take your time to articulate your thoughts clearly.
Practicing answering frequently asked questions employers often ask. Often, these questions will be behavioral questions such as, "Can you tell us about a time you had to deal with a difficult customer?"
Your job during an interview is to help the employer make a good decision about you and the job opening. You are doing your part in the hiring process by connecting your strengths to the job and showing the employer how you can meet their needs. The rest is in God's hands.
By following these do's and don'ts, you can maximize your potential to present yourself effectively during interviews. Remember that, in these roles, your qualifications, character, and alignment with the organization's values are critical. Approach the interview process with sincerity, humility, and a commitment to the organization's mission, and you'll be well on your way to a successful interview and a fulfilling, meaningful career.
©Article copyright by Kevin Brennfleck and Kay Marie Brennfleck, ChristianCareerCenter.com, ChurchJobsOnline.com, ChristianJobFair.com, CareerFitTest.com and LiveYourCalling.com. All rights reserved. The above information is intended for personal use only. No commercial use of this information is authorized without written permission.