Have you begun a search process for a CIO position? One of the most important components of the process is the job interview. As most of us know, there are many things that can go wrong.
If you need to recover from a bad job interview, what steps can you take to avoid gaffes and improve your situation? Whether you are working on your own or with an executive recruiter, you need to be well-prepared for the onsite interview. Let me share some scenarios from my recruiting experience. Hopefully, your next interview will be successful and lead to a fulfilling career in health IT.
Mistakes to avoid at all costs (and these are actual CIO interview gaffes)
- Arriving late or getting lost
- Fumbling with the handshake while juggling a glass of water and briefcase
- Being discourteous to administrative staff
- Wearing casual clothes or outfits that are mismatched or not pressed
- Using cologne or perfume
- Speaking in slang or cuss words during an interview
- Avoiding eye contact
- Handing out unsolicited presentations about yourself
- Forgetting to bring copies of your resume
- Not listening, not asking questions, and not answering questions directly
- Forgetting to follow directions to fill out applications, personality tests
- Becoming hard to reach or unavailable
Successful Interview techniques
To prevent situations like those referenced above, prepare for an onsite interview by researching the organization and its executives. Assume that they will research your background, so be sure to polish up your online LinkedIn profile and remove any social media photos or comments that would not fit your professional brand.
The interview is a two-way street, so prepare a list of questions (perhaps 10 or so) to ask when there is a lull in the conversation or at the end. Employers will make judgments about you based on the questions you ask. Avoid questions on salary or benefits, or dull questions you could find on a web search. Make your questions intelligent, thoughtful, and cordial. Some examples of good questions include:
- What is the organization’s IT plan for the next five years — or will this position be responsible for developing that plan?
- Could you describe your company’s management style and what type of individual fits well with it?
- How will my leadership performance be measured?
Be ready to answer behavioral-based questions about your work background and qualifications. Recall all of your work experiences, write them down with as much specific detail that you can remember. Practice your answers to make them succinct and concise. Think of them as stories and be ready to explain how you handled stress, difficult clients, or customers. Perhaps share the story of how a direct report became successful as a result of your coaching. Hiring managers are interested in the different situations you faced, how you handled them with your actions, and what the results were. They want to match to their needs — not to your desired job.
Rehearse your answers, know yourself, and be honest. Be enthusiastic, without being too salesy. Do more listening than talking. Successful interviewing is an art that involves great interpersonal skills as well as having the qualifications for the position. View being asked to interview as an achievement and a life lesson. Learn from each interview situation, and ask for feedback to help improve for the next time.
Bonnie Siegel is an independent career consultant, with more than 30 years’ experience in healthcare information technology as an executive recruiter and HIT market research professional.