Preparing for the Interview
Preparation for your interview can be the deciding factor in landing the job you want. Interviewing is a skill that requires practice.
Anticipate questions and practice your answers. First impressions count – a lot! Make sure you are enthusiastic; professional; appropriately dressed; and remember to smile. Ask the tough questions now before the interviewer does.
- What are some things you would like to avoid in a job and why?
- What would you say was the most important thing you are looking for in a job and why?
- Can you pinpoint any specific things in your past experiences that affected your present career objectives?
- What kind of things do you feel most confident in doing?
- How would you describe yourself as a person?
- In your work experience, what have you done that you consider truly creative?
- What was your most difficult decision in the past six months?
- How do you keep up with what is going on in your industry or profession?
- Describe your most significant success and failure over the past two years?
- What are your standards of success in your job?
Nothing derails a potential relationship like insecurity. Thoughts such as “They’ll never hire me”, “I look terrible”, “This interview won’t be good” will telegraph to your interviewer and become evident in your demeanor and responses. Concentrate on positive thoughts about getting the job, “You DO look sharp” – ” You ARE going to ace this interview”.
First Impressions Count
Your interview begins at the door. You can only make a first impression once and the first impression you give will be what’s remembered – and often will determine whether you’re asked back for a second interview. Dress appropriately and make sure everything looks perfect.
Employers not only want to hire employees who complete the job tasks, but more importantly, they want a staff that enjoys what they do. This makes the workplace a pleasant place to be. In your interview your tone of voice and responses will demonstrate your interest in the position and the enthusiasm you’ll bring to the workplace. Make sure your enthusiasm is conveyed to your interviewer.
Highlight your Strengths, Minimize your Weaknesses
The goal of every interview is to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate to determine the right person for the job. You should be prepared to not only explain your successes, but also to explain those times when success was elusive. Prepare ahead of time by answering difficult questions which might be asked and write concise, accurate and straightforward answers. This preparation will prevent you from being caught off-guard and potentially losing the job. By identifying your weaknesses you will be able to improve upon them, making you a stronger candidate for the future!
Remember: not only is the employer interviewing you – you should also be interviewing them to determine if the company and position are right for you. By asking questions you’ll gain a better understanding of the job. In addition, the questions you ask will show your interest in the position and your ability to communicate effectively in stressful situations.
Don’t Discuss Money
The moment conversation turns to money you run the risk of being eliminated as a job candidate. The purpose of the first interview should be to see if the employer and candidate are a good fit. If the topic comes up, focus on the opportunity and leave the question of compensation for a later interview.
Express Your Interest
The interview is just about finished and you’ve decided that you’re a good fit for the position and the company. Don’t simply thank the interviewer for the opportunity to discuss the position. Instead, take a moment to say why you would be a great fit for the position. Ask directly how well they feel you fit within the company. Close the conversation by asking what the next step is. Most candidates simply don’t express a strong interest in jobs they interview for which leaves an excellent opportunity open for the ones who do.
Reflect and Take Notes
Nothing is more instructive than experience. After the interview, take a few moments to reflect on the conversation. If you made mistakes, how you can improve for the next interview? Make notes about areas that went well and take away the positives, even if you don’t get the job.
In today’s hectic business culture, a simple handwritten note following your interview will leave a strong, positive impression with your interviewer. In the note, thank the interviewer for the opportunity to meet for the position, reiterate your interest in the position and reinforce the key strengths you offer. Be brief and make it well written.
- Be punctual. Try to be at least ten minutes early. Know where you’re going. Call ahead for directions if you need. Being late will destroy your chances of getting hired.
- If possible, know the name and correct pronunciation of the individual you will be interviewing with.
- Dress for success. It’s better to be over-dressed than under-dressed.
- Be neat and clean in appearance. Avoid too much make-up; jewelry; cologne or perfume; don’t chew gum; and turn off your cell phone.
- Greet you interviewer with a firm; sincere handshake.
- Never complain about past employers or co-workers. Negative employees are difficult employees.
- Knowing a little about the company is always helpful. Try the internet or read the newspaper for recent articles about the company.
- Always ask for a business card from your interviewer. You’ll need it for a follow-up letter or thank you note.
- Salary is usually not discussed at the first interview.