General Question

tinyfaery's avatar

More interview help?

Asked by tinyfaery (42589points) September 30th, 2008

So I have another second interview this week. This time it’s for a job outside of social services. The position is a Calendar Clerk at a law office. The job would be keeping schedules for the lawyers, when they have to be in court, when paperwork is due, which people should be doing which task, etc. So here are my questions:

1. What do I say when they ask me if I have any questions? I know about the position, the firm, the hours, compensation, etc. So what do I ask? This is always a big problem for me.

2. How do I relay my skills to the interviewer without coming across like I’m rattling off a list? For instance: They ask, “What can you bring to our company?” I start to rattle off I’m organized, a quick-learner, blah blah blah. Is there a better way?

3. Why is it that I keep getting the 2nd interview, but no job offer? Most of the places I have interviewed have said they were seeing upwards of 25 people. How can I make myself stand-out?

I’ve followed all the other advice, including sending thank-you notes. Any other suggestions?

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6 Answers

Nimis's avatar

Your answers here are always thoughtful.
I suspect it may be nerves.

Find ways to relax before the interview?

marinelife's avatar

1. You need to ask questions. (It is not good to “know it all” during the interview even if you know the key things to you.)

So, perhaps, “What software does the firm use for calendaring?” or “What would a typical day for a calendar clerk be?” or a golden oldie-but-goodie, “Is there an advancement path at the firm if I start as a calendar clerk?”

2. In this case, you are working translatable skills rather than direct experience. You need to relate for the interviewer what experience in your current job would apply directly to this job. (I am not sure exactly what that is, obviously, so view these as merely suggestions of types of things to say.)

What do you bring to this firm, tinyfaerie? “Well, in my current position I have similar experience, because I am juggling multiple clients’ schedules. I use Software X and Software Y for my planning and scheduling.”

“I am a real quick study with new technology, and I am sure that I can pick up your software quickly. When we converted from SoftCal to AccuSked, I was named one of the “Go To” team to answer questions for my co-workers.”

“Because I have dealt with the court system on a regular basis in my job, I know the ins and outs of scheduling there well.”

To generalize what I am trying to convey, avoid things like “organized”, “quick learner”. Instead, paint a specific picture that demonstrates those qualities and relates your experience to what the new job requires. Being forced to tell the story will also slow you down and stop the “rattling off” phenomenon.

3. As to the why you haven’t made it through to hire yet, it is a tough job market for one.

Other possibilities: In the case of a law firm, in particular, are you toning down your personal expression enough ( long sleeves over the tats; remove less-accepted piercings) for a pretty formal industry?

One thing you could try: Did you hit it off well with any of the people you second interviewed with? if so, I would call them, remind them who you are.

Don’t under any circumstances ask why you did not get their job.

Instead, say, “I really enjoyed meeting you and respected your style of interviewing. Can you give me tips as I go forward in my search that would help me in a second interview situation? I have another one this week, and would value your input.”

Finally, looking for a job can bring you down. You are a bright, talented person (apparent from your answers here). You will succeed. Hang in there.

Dorkgirl's avatar

Marina is spot-on. I’m an HR Manager responsible for interviewing and hiring.
My tips—
Keep your answer to any question to about 1 minute. Don’t ramble. Answer the question as fully as possible then let the interviewer ask a follow up if they need/want more information.

Specifics are always good. Measurable examples are better…“I worked with the XYZ team and we increased our successful meeting arrangements by 50% when we started using AccuSked.”

Take your time. Breath. Don’t be afraid of a silent moment while you compose an answer.
If you are unsure of a question or how to respond, ask for clarification.
Don’t be a know-it-all. If they ask what areas you need to improve on, have something prepared even if it’s mundane. We all need to improve somewhere, so don’t tell me you can’t think of anything.
Even if you feel comfortable with the interviewer, NEVER overshare…don’t tell them about your dog or boyfriend or last vacation. They should not know about your health issues, your relationship with your mother or why you had to move out of your last apartment.

Regarding questions you can ask the employer, you can ask about benefits or the pay scale. You can say that you looked at the website and saw that they work with a particular client or do a certain type of work and how will that play into your role—this shows interest in the organzation and in the business. You can also ask the interviewer how they like the organization, what they find challenging or rewarding. If the interviewer will be your supervisor or co-worker, ask them what is the most important skill or ability to them for a person to have in this role.

You stand out by being professional, mature, well -spoken. Dress for the role. You’ve visited them once and saw how others look, now try to emulate that. If they are formal (Mr. Jones, Miss Smith), then don’t call them Joe and Sue.

If the 2nd interview seems to be going well and you reach the “any questions” part, you can say you don’t have any questions but you’ve really enjoyed meeting them, find the position to be an exciting opportunity and look forward to a favorable decision on their part.

Take the time to do your 60 second final sales blurb. “I’d like to reiterate for you that I’m skilled at blah blah blah, am comfortable working on tight deadlines, enjoy the challenge of supporting 25 people, and am a hard worker who will be a real asset to your team”. In the past I have written my blurb out and practiced it. You should feel comfortable with your blurb and confident in what you are selling.

Good luck!

srmorgan's avatar

I may have stated this to you before, I apologize for being repetitive.
My viewpoint in hiring has been as a line manager in finance or as a department staffer participating in team interviews of candidates who have already been vetted at least once.

It is my particular contention that more people talk themselves out of jobs than talk themselves into jobs. Dorkgirl hits the nail on the head about oversharing.

Interviewing is not my favorite activity. When a candidate walks into my office or I walk into a conference room, my most fervent desire is that this will be the last interview that I am forced to do for this position. Why? Because we have a defined specific need otherwise we would not be in hiring mode, so I want to get that need addressed and solved.

So be respectful, professional, personable, inquisitive but not obnoxious, confident but not cocky. And be 100% truthful, interviewers can spot a lie from 100 yards away.


windex's avatar

Calendar Clerk? don’t they know how to use iCalendar?

Dorkgirl's avatar

Tinyfaery—did you go to the interview yet? I’m curious to know how it worked out.
Good luck if it’s still to come!

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