Successful interviewing skills for SAP professionals

Certification looks great on a resume, but eye contact and listening skills are paramount to landing the job of your dreams.

Successful interview skills for SAP professionals

As an SAP professional, your focus is on integration technology, certification, and skill sets. Sometimes tech-heads like you, lose great job opportunities because of poor interview skills. Certification looks great on a resume, but eye contact and listening skills are paramount to landing the job of your dreams.

Ames Department Stores, Inc., (http://www.amesstores.com) a nationwide discount retailer with more than $4 billion in annual sales, recently completed a variety of e-commerce initiatives, including the building of internal portal sites and a corporate wide e-retailing site. When building the e-commerce team, Ames interviewed a variety of candidates. From that experience, Gail Gagnon, manager of human resources at the firm, offers these five tips for successful interviewing.

1. Make eye contact. "We interviewed someone who had a great technical skill set combined with retail experience," she says. "But he blew the interview at all levels because he failed to make eye contact. This is someone who needed to lead his group, and his interaction skills were very poor. Even the most technical position requires some kind of human element. Just having the technical skill set on paper doesn't cut it anymore."

2. Listen carefully and answer the question. This may sound obvious, but Gagnon says this is where many technical candidates slip up. "You have to make sure you're listening to the question that you're being asked and answer it," she says. "Don't ramble on and end up on a totally different tangent. Sometimes, candidates are so focused on portraying their strengths that they can't tune into the needs of the company."

3.Be honest. Gagnon says she cannot stress this enough, even when the candidate may think that being honest about their skill set detracts from their value. "If you don't know the answer to a technical question, say you don't know," she says. "And don't make bad guesses to try and win the interview because that will blow up in your face. It's really not the kiss of death to not have specific technical experience, but if you try to snow your way through it, we'll cut you off right away, and you won't even get to the next interview level."

4. Do your homework. "Make sure you are ready to ask questions, and know something about who we are and what we do," she says. Gagnon says she encountered several candidates who were completely unprepared, and even unsure about the type of business Ames operated. "One candidate took a look at our headquarters and assumed it was a bowling alley," she says. "You need to ask some questions that help build our confidence that you understand our business."

5.Dress appropriately. "We had a guy interview for a programming position who wore a blood red shirt, with a checked jacket and a comical tie," she says. "It was very distracting during the interview process and certainly, his dress didn't cause him to miss out on the opportunity. But it made an impression, and he didn't get the job. In today's business casual environment, you don't need to be dressed to the nines so to speak, but you need to present yourself professionally."

Cummings is a freelance writer in North Andover, MA. She can be reached at jocummings@mediaone.net.


This was first published in February 2001

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