Job Interviews

Aug. 23, 2006
Whether you are looking for new opportunities in the company you work for or need to expand your horizons due to a layoff, knowing how to approach a job interview will improve your chances for success.

Whether you are looking for new opportunities in the company you work for or need to expand your horizons due to a layoff, knowing how to approach a job interview will improve your chances for success.

Shelle Cleveland, senior vice president, human resources for Landmark Aviation, shares her knowledge gained from 20 years in the aviation industry.

What characteristics do you look for?

Cleveland says technical experience and leadership qualities are at the top of the list of what she looks for in a candidate. Other qualities are the ability to articulate experience and strengths, confidence, presence, and preparedness. “Practice, practice, practice for the interview,” she says.

Presence includes appearance and should include good personal grooming and a polished look. Cleveland recommends dressing conservatively, but professionally, to make a good impression. “It’s safer to lean on the side of being overly dressed,” she says. “Having a knowledge of Landmark and the position gained by visiting the web site or talking to other employees shows your level of interest, that you’re interested in working for Landmark and not just looking for a position,” Cleveland says.

What process do you follow?

Like most companies, Landmark Aviation, does telephone screening of applicants so the actual personal interview process involves the most qualified applicants. And it has recruiters, to help with the screening process.

Landmark uses a team approach to interview candidates. The team includes the immediate manager, recruiter, and human resources. Each candidate is asked the same questions so that each can be fairly evaluated. The team discusses feedback after each interview and then decides which candidate best meets the need for that particular position.

As managers have a variety of skills, Landmark offers refresher courses on interviewing. The company has tools available including a database that includes competencies for each job so that questions will be consistent in the interviewing process.

Internal vs. external candidates

Landmark posts both hourly and salary positions on its intranet web site. Cleveland says, “If you’re an internal candidate there is a history of your performance that can be an advantage if you have a good track record. Internal candidates are still interviewed and still have the same criteria to fill as external candidates: prepare, be polished and professional, and sell yourself.”

With its more than 40 locations Landmark encourages employees to take advantage of opportunities that become available. In July there were 60 open positions according to Cleveland, and it can be higher at times due to both growth and people changing positions within the company.

What should the candidate bring?

The candidate should have done his or her homework in finding out about the position and the company. Talk to people and ask questions.

Cleveland says you should have copies of your resume, letters of recommendations, training certificates, or a portfolio of what you bring to the table. Don’t assume that because you sent a resume that it will be available, have extra copies.

By researching the company and knowing what the position entails, you should be able to ask a few questions, and show your commitment by asking for the job when the interview is over.

What not to ask

From the employer standpoint, Cleveland says to stay away from personal or family situations, financial information, or background information unrelated to the job. Focus on the job requirements and be consistent in the questions you ask.

From the perspective employee side don’t ask about compensation. You should know enough about the position to know whether it meets your financial requirements. And there will be other opportunities to ask about specific benefits if you’re the right candidate for the job.

Don’t ask what the job is or what the company does. You can ask for clarification but word it in a way that says you did your homework. Keep it professional, Cleveland says. “You can be casual to keep it comfortable but maintain professionalism.”

Follow up

After a face-to-face interview you are entitled to the courtesy of a follow up call from the company whether you got the job or not.

To stand out from other candidates you should send a thank you to each person that interviewed you. Get the correct spelling of their names and titles during the interview. Express your interest in the job and the company and thank them for the opportunity. This should be done within a few days of the interview. Sending an email is acceptable. Whether a note or email, it should be grammatically correct with no spelling errors.

So the next time you’re sitting across from a human resource person, know that it isn’t only what this company or position can offer you, it’s what you can offer the company.

About the Author

Barb Zuehlke | Past Senior Editor | AMT