Interview Preparation

The following is a brief synopsis of the MRI Interview Handbook, an in-depth guide to developing and improving your interview skills. When you work with one of our Account Executives you will be given access to the complete text. Please submit your resume and complete our online questionnaire to begin your candidacy.

Interview Preparation Handbook (click to read our full-text Microsoft Word handbook, password-protected for our candidates only)

Like taking a bar examination or a battery of CPA tests, thorough preparation is vital to the interview process. Behavior-based interviewing, for example, is becoming more common. Based on the premise that past behavior is the best predictor of future performance, this means you could be asked to explain specific examples of your work experience, including definable actions and results.

So how do you prepare for a behavior-based interview? Here's some advice: Determine your chief skills and strengths and be prepared to recall specific instances where you have successfully used those skills.
  • Would you give me some examples of how you handled (a particular situation)?
  • What specific actions did you take?
  • What were the results?
  • What would you do differently?
  • Why do you think you're qualified for this job?
  • Why are you considering leaving your current employer?
  • What are your strong/weak points?
  • Where would you like to be in five years?
For many openings, competition is keen, and this is another good reason for sound preparation. To make the best of the opportunity, here are some preparation tips:
  • Learn as much as you can about the company, its products, its finances and its operations.
  • Follow the company's stock price if it's publicly traded.
  • Find out as much as possible about the position.
  • Use your network for behind-the-scenes information.
  • Anticipate questions you'll be asked and practice responses.
Surveys show that managers often decide whether to hire or not hire within the first five minutes of the interview. This gives you 300 seconds to make a favorable impression.

To make the best use of your time, follow the interviewer's lead, but don't hesitate to ask for a description of the position and its responsibilities. Make sure you convey your "success" points in a factual, sincere, manner, reinforcing how important you would be to the organization. When answering questions, get to the point quickly, using only enough detail to solidify your competence. Always express interest in the company's business, judiciously dropping information that reveals you have done your homework.

Questions to Ask

Interviews should be a two-way conversation. You must ask questions and take an active role in the interview. This demonstrates the importance you place on your work and career. Asking questions gives you a chance to demonstrate your depth of knowledge in the field as well as to establish an easy flow of conversation and relaxed atmosphere between you and the interviewer. Building this kind of rapport is always a plus in an interview.

Remember, you are not just there for the interviewer to determine if you are right for the position, but also to determine if this job is right for you. Some of your questions should evolve from research you've done on the company in preparing for the interview. Following are some guidelines for your questions, as well as some examples:
  • Don't cross-examine the employer.
  • Ask questions requiring an explanation. Questions which can be answered with a "yes" or "no" are conversation stoppers.
  • Don't interrupt when the employer is answering YOUR question.
  • Ask job-relevant questions. Focus on the job - the company, products, services, and people.
  • Prior to the interview, write your list of questions and take them with you. Ask about your potential peers, subordinates, and superiors. Take notes.
Some critical questions you may want to ask include:
  • Why do you want to hire someone from outside your organization for this job?
  • How many people have held this job in the last five years?
  • Were they promoted, or did they leave the company?
  • How did you get started in the company?
  • What are examples of the best results produced by people in this job?
  • What would my responsibilities and duties be?
  • What projects would I be involved in now? In the future?
  • What are the most difficult aspects of the position?
  • Describe a typical day on the job?
  • Who would I be working for and with?
  • Describe the department's/company's growth in the next 2 years?
  • What is the philosophy on training and development here?
  • Has there been downsizing within the company? How is it handled?
  • How do you think I'd fit into the job and into your organization?
Interview Conclusion

After you leave the interview, it is very important that you call us immediately. At the conclusion of the interview, express appreciation to the interviewer for his or her consideration. If you feel this is an opportunity you want to pursue, also express your sincere interest in the position and your desire to take the interview process to the next step.

Call your Management Recruiters of Chicago-Far West Account Executive immediately after the interview with your impression so that he or she has this information before the interviewer calls. Be sure to send a thank you note to the interviewer the following day. This is a good way to keep your name current in the interviewer's mind. The following is a brief outline that you can adapt to fit your specifics:

(Date)

Address Line:
  • The full company name and address (no abbreviations) as well as the full name of the interviewer and his/her complete title.
Subject Line:
  • "Re: Interview for the Position of (Title) on (Date)." This illustrates the content of the letter.
Greeting:
  • "Dear Mr./Ms. (Last Name):"
  • "Miss" or "Mrs." should not be used unless you are sure that person does so. Do not use a first name in the greeting unless you have established a strong rapport.
Opening:
  • "It was a pleasure meeting with you (Day) to discuss the opening in (Department) with (Company)."
  • "I appreciated meeting with (Name) and yourself in your office on (Day) to discuss the (Title) position with (Company)."
  • "Thanks for taking the time to see me regarding the opening in (Department)."
Again, comment or add something discussed during the interview that will allow you to restate your qualifications and confidence in performing the job.

Body:
  • "From our discussion, and the fine reputation of your organization, it appears that the (Title) position would enable me to fully use my background in...
  • "I was particularly impressed with the professionalism evident throughout my visit. (Company) appears to have the kind of environment I have been seeking."
  • "The atmosphere at (Company) seems to strongly favor individual involvement, and I would undoubtedly be able to contribute significantly to its goals."
Closing:
  • "While I have been considering other opportunities, I have deferred a decision until I hear from you. Therefore, your prompt reply would be greatly appreciated."
  • "It's an exciting opportunity, and I look forward to hearing your decision very soon."
  • "The (Title) position and (Company) are exactly what I have been seeking, and I hope to hear from you within the next week."
Salutation:
  • "Sincerely,"
  • "Very truly yours,"
  • "Best regards,"
Resignation Tips

Informing your current employer of your resignation takes tact and discretion. If they inquire as to with whom you will be employed, it is best to tell them that you cannot disclose that information until your new employer announces it within his/her own organization.

The following sample letter is suitable correspondence to announce your resignation.

(Date)

Dear ______________,

Please accept this letter as my formal resignation as (Title) for (Company) to become effective as of (Date). I have accepted a position in (Location).

I believe this position will offer me more challenge and opportunity for advancement as well as allow me to broaden my own experience and knowledge.

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your time and efforts in my training and advancement during the past (Time). The support and concern shown by you and the rest of the management team has been deeply appreciated.

I leave (Company) with no animosity or ill will and wish you and (Company) continued success.

My decision is irrevocable and any counteroffers extended by you and/or (Company) will be rejected.

Sincerely,
(Your Name)

Counteroffers

Quitting a job is never easy. Career changes are tough enough and the anxieties of' leaving a comfortable job, friends and environment for an unknown opportunity can easily cloud your judgment. But what should you do when your current employer "muddies the waters" even more by asking you to stay?

A counteroffer is an inducement from your current employer to get you to stay after you've announced your intentions to accept another job elsewhere.

If you are considering a counteroffer, remain focused on your primary objective. Why were you looking for another job to begin with? If an employee is happy with their current job, employer and/or salary, they're usually not paving the road with resumes. So often times a counteroffer that promises more money never really remedies the real reasons for wanting to move on in the first place.

Apart from a short-term bandage on the problem, nothing will change within the company. When the dust settles, you can find yourself back in the same old rut. Recruiters report that more than 80% of those who accept counteroffers leave, begin looking for another job, or are "let go" within six to twelve months after announcing their intentions.

Counteroffers are certainly flattering and make an employee question their initial decision to leave. But often they are merely stall tactics used by bosses and companies to alleviate an upheaval a departing employee can cause. High turnover also brings a boss's management skills into question. His reaction is to do what's necessary until he's better prepared to replace you.

A few of the things they might say:
  • "You can't leave, the department really needs you."
  • "We were just about to give you a raise."
  • "I didn't know you were unhappy. Why didn't you come to me sooner?"
  • "What can we do to make things better?"
Again, stay focused on your decision and your opportunities.

You need to ask yourself:
  • What kind of company do you work for if you have to threaten to resign before they pay you what you're worth?
  • Where did the money for the counteroffer come from? Is it your next raise or promotion just given early? Are future opportunities limited now? Will you have to threaten to leave again for another raise or promotion?

You've demonstrated your unhappiness and will be viewed as having committed blackmail in order to get a raise. Your loyalty will also be questioned come promotion time.

Well-managed companies rarely make counteroffers since they view their employment policies as fair and equitable.

If you do consider being "bought back", obtain the details of the offer in writing, as well as a one-year "no cut" contract from the employer. If they refuse, as two-thirds of counteroffering employers do, your decision to leave is made.

Look at your current job and the new position as if you were unemployed, then make your decision based on which holds the most real potential. It's probably the new job or you wouldn't have accepted it in the first place.