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Thread: First planning interview tips?

  1. #1

    First planning interview tips?

    I am very excited to be interviewing for a planning position next week, but do not know what to expect, or what would be acceptable pre-interview behavior. I work in the department where the interview will be, but in another area outside of direct planning work. Therefore, I am acquainted with a few people working as planners in that department. They know of my interest, but not sure if they know I will be interviewing. Would it be ok to let them know I'm interviewing and for any interview advice?

    Also, I was told there would be a panel, but didn't ask of who and how many. Any idea of what this could mean, and would it be ok to ask?

    There will also be a writing portion to this interview, and since I am VERY new to planning, would love to know what to expect, if possible. I am studying terminology and planning issues, but still quite nervous.

    Any tips, suggestions would be GREATLYappreciated.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Crayola View post
    I am very excited to be interviewing for a planning position next week, but do not know what to expect, or what would be acceptable pre-interview behavior. I work in the department where the interview will be, but in another area outside of direct planning work. Therefore, I am acquainted with a few people working as planners in that department. They know of my interest, but not sure if they know I will be interviewing. Would it be ok to let them know I'm interviewing and for any interview advice?
    Probably at least one of them knows that you're a candidate, and that means that the rest also know. It never hurts to be friendly and sociable and do some water-coolering with your colleagues. Being a known quantity can be a very good thing, sometimes.
    I wouldn't ask them for advice. If there's anything they think you should know ("planning director hates plaids") they'll share.

    Also, I was told there would be a panel, but didn't ask of who and how many. Any idea of what this could mean, and would it be ok to ask?
    It could be a mock presentation. It could be a round-robin question format where reps from various departments take a turn in asking where you expect to be in five years and why you want the job.
    If you ask, it might be seen as requesting special treatment from the colleagues (they might have to bend over backwards to avoid any semblance of favoritism). OTOH, if ou're getting coffee and a planner says, "so I see we're interviewing you," go ahead and ask.

    There will also be a writing portion to this interview, and since I am VERY new to planning, would love to know what to expect, if possible. I am studying terminology and planning issues, but still quite nervous.
    They might have a multiple-choice test with trick questions. Or an in-box exercise with stuff typical of what would come in, and you get to explain how you'd handle each item and prioritize them all. (Screaming neighbor fearfully whining about the yard sale down the street: last. CUP big box applicant hired a PR firm who instigates a recall campaign: top.)

    Again, it's easier for them to hire you for this position (fewer ropes to learn, can hit the ground running...go ahead, quote me!). I always ask how many applicants they will be speaking with, and sometimes they reply that I'm their first choice. I also like to know their time frame on a decision.

    If they do select you, perhaps you can help interview your successor. (HR projects can be fun.)

    HTH

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    My advice is for you to be yourself and approach this from the standpoint that you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Have some questions ready to ask them (there will be a question that asks if you have any questions for them). Have some intelligent questions ready, ones that show you've thought about the job, the organization, and your role. Engage them. Don't BS, don't make stuff up. A good answer to a question you don't know the answer to is, "I don't know." Then add something that shows you have a brain, like "that's an interesting question. Do you think that will be a big factor in the course of this job? Why?"

    In my experience, panel interviews are just a bunch of people so that they get more than one person's opinion of the interviewee.

    When I give a written portion on an interview I'm primarily looking to see if the person can write coherently. Logical analysis is important, too, but the main reason is to check writing skills.

    Think in advance about what questions you might be asked. Be prepared for the typical lame questions such as "what is your greatest weakness?" Don't give a lame BS answer like "I'm a perfectionist." Have a real weakness in mind (but not a reaaly bad one) and explain what you do to deal with it ("I'm a bit of a procrastinator, so every day before I go home I make a list of the most important things for me to do tomorrow, with deadlines, and I leave the first one out on my desk to get it started. I also try to keep my supervisors informed of the status of my work so that they know what is going on and so there are no surprises." Assuming that's true.)

    Relax. Be attentive. Look them in the eye, and don't mumble. Lean into it.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian tsc's avatar
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    This might sound odd, but wear a suit. Even if the rest are in planner garb, khakis, etc. Be yourself and don't worry if you don't know all the answers...as you shouldn't, since you are just starting out. Reading over some typical interview questions should help prepare you for an interview.
    "Yeehaw!" is not a foreign policy

    Renovating the '62 Metzendorf
    http://metzendorf.blogspot.com/

  5. #5

    Well I went...

    I think it went well. They were laid back and funny and we seemed to get along good. There werent any questions too difficult, no real surprises. Whew! Got another one coming up though, planning also, but another department...we'll see what happens. This one is for Community Development...any suggestions for how this one may stand out?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Crayola View post
    I think it went well. They were laid back and funny and we seemed to get along good. There werent any questions too difficult, no real surprises. Whew! Got another one coming up though, planning also, but another department...we'll see what happens. This one is for Community Development...any suggestions for how this one may stand out?
    "Why do you want this job?"

    "If Planning offers you the position for which you interviewed last week, and CD offers this one, which would you choose?"

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