So, you’ve found the perfect job opening, sent off your resume and landed an interview. Congratulations! It appears you are definitely qualified and in line for a new job in the auto industry.
But, wait! Are you prepared for the interview? Did you know that sometimes even within the first few minutes of an interview, hiring managers can have their mind made up as to whether or not you are a good fit for their organization?
There are 10 things that can make or break this interview. Follow these ten interview tips and you will definitely be on the right track to advancing your career in the automotive industry.
1. Create A Great First impression
Make sure you’re on your game on the day of the interview. This is your one chance to show confidence, be friendly, and show how you’ll fit in with the company and fulfill the role. Sometimes the interviewer has been able to make a decision within the first few minutes of your arrival. “A proper presentation is very important,” says Michael Ochoa, formerly of the Los Angeles Technical College. “It includes a well-written resume, proper attire and the use of proper language.”
First, don’t be late. Prior to your interview, make sure you understand where the interview will be taking place and research directions. Then, the day of your interview, be sure to arrive a few minutes early to show you’re both eager and punctual. Even if you need to arrive 30 minutes or so beforehand to allow for traffic or other mishap, you can always stay in the car until it’s time – use this time to practice or go over your notes. But, don’t show up too early and catch your employer-to-be unexpectedly. This can annoy some employers, and they’ll usually make you wait until the scheduled time anyway.
Next, show confidence. Make direct eye contact with each person in the room, remember to smile, and firmly shake hands during the introductions. Then, let the interviewer take the leadbut be alert and fully engaged throughout the conversation.
2. Discuss Your Training and Related Skills in Detail
Not all employers view training and certification programs equally. For example, independent garage managers might be more interested in your ASE certification than a dealership manager.
“We look first at factory-training certifications,” says Sam Pines, who manages nine service departments for the Hoffman Auto Group dealerships in Connecticut. “ASE certification is a plus, but we are primarily interested in candidates who have successfully completed [factory training programs].”
Be aware of what a potential employer might consider valuable, but also outline all of your training and experience to show how you’ve built up industry and related experience. Bring two copies of your resume to the interview – one for yourself and one for the employer.
Even if most of your experience is informal training or on-the-job experience, discuss the specific skills you’ve developed and the tools you’ve worked with. Some employers may test you on certain equipment or test your knowledge, so be prepared to back up anything you say.
3. Dress to impress
When selecting your look for the interview, “dress to impress” is always the best practice. People make assumptions about professional credibility and potential performance based upon your appearance. Regardless of your knowledge or expertise, it is very difficult to overcome a poor first impression. Many employers interpret your appearance in terms of what you know about the world around you and the attention you give to detail.
To be successful, research and practice for the interview and carefully plan the professional image you want to project. If you come to an interview dressed professionally, you will feel a sense of confidence and others will sense your self-assurance. Don’t think because you’re interviewing for an auto technician job that it’s okay to show up in oil covered jeans and a tee shirt. Whether you’re going for an auto tech, auto sales, or management role, how you dress should always reflect your professionalism.
4. Watch your body language
Positive body language that shows self-confidence is critical during an interview. As mentioned earlier, making direct eye contact and offering a solid handshake during introductions will reflect your confidence, but also remember to maintain a pleasant demeanor to show that you can interact with customers and coworkers. If you’re interviewing for a car sales or management position, show off your best personality to show the employer you’re a go-getter and a people person.
Once the interview begins, try to make sure you are using good posture – sit straight and lean forward a little -do not slouch in the chair. Nod affirmingly to main points discussed to show you’re both paying attention and interested. And lay your hands still on your lap. Someone who taps their fingers, rubs their face or head – which may be nervous habits – will give the impression that you’re bored or ready for the interview to end.
5. Do your research before the interview
Employers will be impressed if you can talk about a specific detail about their company, such as a recent project, award, or specific product or service, and it will demonstrate your interest in the company. Look at the company website and research any published articles regarding the company. Understanding the company and how your potential position fits into it will show that you do your homework and that you’re interested.
From what you research, you can use examples when answering questions that relate to the company. For example, in one of your answers or questions to the interviewer, you can state “on your website, I read…” to demonstrate your knowledge and interest with them specifically. This is a key step to standing out from other potential candidates.
6. Answer open ended questions with specific examples
“We ask only open-ended questions during the interview process,” says Bill Filley, mechanical division director for the Automotive Service Association and owner of Prairie Road Automotive in Eugene, Oregon.
Employers want to see that you’re a critical thinker, so will often look for answers to questions beyond a simple “yes” or “no.” If possible, try to use examples instead of a simple yes or no. For example, let’s say the employer asks if you have ever written daily service reports. Your response could be, “yes, as a matter of fact, I developed a system at my last place of employment where service reports could be quickly entered and delivered to the appropriate managers. It was an efficient solution for our shop”.
This type of answer shows them that “yes” can be backed up with experience that applies to the position. Also, it’s a wonderful opportunity to brag about your accomplishments and skills without coming across over confident.
7. Ask Questions
Before the interview and after researching the company, write down at least five questions that you would like to ask your interviewer. Companies don’t just want you to demonstrate your knowledge and experience in an interview. They also want to see that you’re curious and interested in the role and company beyond what the job description says. Great examples of questions you can ask are:
- Where do you see this position in five years?
- Why are you hiring for this position?
- Who is your perfect candidate for this position?
- Can you tell me about your company’s culture?
8. Don’t speak poorly about past employers
Anywhere you work has its pros and cons. One reason you may be looking for a new opportunity is because the cons at your current workplace outweigh the pros for you. Remember, the place you are now interviewing probably has its share of faults, too.
Think about that as you are answering why you are seeking a new position or when asked about past employers. Throwing out a bunch of negative comments may make the interviewer wonder if you’ll work well with others, or dissing your past shop manager may just make you look like a bad worker. Keep a positive attitude and and focus on the experience and skills you gained from your past employers.
9. Keep your driving record clean
Not only can a bad driving record reflect irresponsibility, but it can also keep some shops and other types of automotive workplaces from insuring an employee. So when you’re interviewing for automotive jobs, be sure that you have a clean driving record, or if you have had problems in the past, do what you can to rectify those problems and be upfront about how you’re finding a solution. Most employers will also want to know that you can get to and from work reliably every day.
The interview is over and you are feeling pretty confident about how well it went. Do not think it’s over at this point! Within a few days of the interview, email or contact the interviewer and thank them for taking the time to meet with you. This would also be a great time to follow-up and ask them if they’d like anything else from you such as references or other information that could be helpful in choosing you.
Doing this will place you in front of their mind again, show your continued interest in the position and give them an opportunity to seek more from you. You never know, this could be the key communication that impresses them and lands you the position.
Landing an interview is just the first step to getting a job in the automotive industry. Following the ten tips discussed in this article can make a huge difference into whether you actually land the job or not. Good luck!