Interviews are a very important part of your job search and career success. Employers use the interview to assess your transferable skills and adaptable skills as well as your specific job skills. They look at appearance, attitude, deportment, social skills, and your potential to be a team member. The more time you spend preparing for an interview, the better will be your chances for successfully landing that desired position.
General Interview Tips
- Be on time - arrive about five to ten minutes early to find the interviewing room without rushing.
- Have a neat, clean, professional appearance.
- Dress appropriately for the job.
- Use a firm handshake.
- Smile and maintain eye contact.
- Do not start the interview with questions about salary.
- Do not smoke, not even on the way to the interview.
- Be truthful, considerate, and honest.
- Be alert and show interest.
- Do not talk too much.
- Be positive, express things in a positive manner.
- Avoid exercising bad habits and manners.
- Avoid discussing personal problems.
- Thank the interviewer for his/her time.
Before the Interview
- Do your research. Learn something about the company. Check out their web page if they have one. The more you know going in, the better you will be able to give targeted answers and ask relevant questions.
- Have a specific job or jobs in mind.
- Review your qualifications for the job and be able to sell your relevant skills, training, and abilities.
- Be prepared to answer broad questions about yourself.
Information to Take With You
- Photo ID and Social Secruity Number
- Educational information: names of schools, addresses, dates of attendance, majors, degrees earned.
- Work history including name of employers including addresses and phone numbers (you may need this for an employment applicaiton), jobs held, dates employed, special recognitions or awards.
- References. Usually an employer requires three references. Get permission from people before using their names. For each reference give the following information: name, address, telephone number and occupation and e-mail address if they have one.
- A copy of your resume.
During the Interview
- Answer each question the best you can.
- Keep the focus on job related skills, training, experience, and ability.
- Avoid discussing your personal problems or issues.
- Be prompt in giving responses.
- Be well mannered.
- Use good English and avoid the use of slang.
- Know and use the terminology of your field.
- Be cooperative and enthusiastic.
- Do not be afraid to ask questions.
Test (If the Employer Gives One)
- Listen carefully to instructions.
- Follow all verbal and written instructions precisely. Take time to read the directions at the top of the page.
- Read each question carefully.
- Write legibly and clearly.
- Budget your time wisely and do not stay on one question too long.
Questions Employers Ask
Most job hunters make two critical mistakes when they are being questioned during an interview. First, they fail to LISTEN TO THE QUESTION. They risk annoying the interviewer either by answering a question not asked or by giving out a lot of excess information. Second, they attempt to answer the questions with little or no REPARATION. The more time and effort you put into anticipating possible questions and your responses, the better your chances will be of success in the interview. Some nervousness is expected, but answer all questions honestly.
The following questions are often asked by employers regardless of the job classification. Study them and develop strong responses.
- Why do you want to work here?
- Why should I hire you?
- What interests you most about this position?
- How do you feel about your progress to date?
- What would you like to be doing five years from now?
- What training qualifications do you have for a job like this?
- Why do you want to change jobs?
- Why do you want to change your field of work?
- Why have you changed jobs so frequently?
- How have you helped sales/profits/cost reductions?
- What type of experience do you have for this job?
- What are your strongest points?
- What are your weakest points?
Before You Leave
Do not jump up and run for the door when the interview is over. Remain calm and give the impression that you would be comfortable working there.
- Gather up your papers, purse or brief case, coat, etc. so you do not have to come back for them later.
- Remember you manners, thank the interviewers for their time and consideration.
- If, after the interview, you are still interested in the position restate you interest and your confidence that you would be an asset to the employer.
- Ask for some kind of commitment. Ask when they expect to make a decision. Ask if and when they will let you know about their decision. Ask if it OK to follow-up with a phone call. Just remember to call back on the precise day you agreed to.
After the Interview
Take a moment to note your observations and impressions from the interview:
- Write down the interviewer's name and title.
- Record any dates you agreed to for follow-up.
- Note what you felt went particularly well.
- Note anything that you were uncomfortable with such as questions which you had not expected or were unprepared to answer, and address those issues before your next interview.
Send a Thank You
After the interview, or any time a potential employer spends time with you, you should follow up with a thank you letter or card. Take your cue from the interview itself. If it was a formal encounter you should send a formal thank you letter but if it is a friendly casual exchange, then a hand written note or card would be appropriate. If sending a card, be sure it is has an emotionally or politically neutral theme. So few people take the time to thank others for their effort that when you send a thank you, it will be noticed.