Preparing for the Interview: Tips for Success
What is in an interview?
A mutual exchange of information between the employer and the applicant.
What is the purpose of an interview?
- To determine if your education and experience are a good match with the specific job responsibilities.
- To determine if you will "fit into" the organizational environment.
For the Applicant:
- To have an opportunity to emphasize your abilities and interest in the job.
- To learn more about the job and the organization to decide if you will be happy working there.
Types of Interview
- Informational Interview - seek more information about the company or a career
- Screening Interview - designed to eliminate less suitable candidates
- Stress Interview - create situations to see how you might handle job-related stress
- Series Interview - consecutive interviews with different people from the same company
- Group Interview - involves the interviewing of several candidates at the same time
- Board Interview - interview conducted by two or more people at the same time
- Behavioral Interview - asks questions that determines how you handle challenges
Preparing for the Interview
- Arrive fifteen minutes early.
- Dress appropriately.
- Bring necessary information, recommended items:
- Extra copies of your resume
- Reference list with 3-5 individuals
- Good quality pen and/or pencil
- Work samples that demonstrate skills and abilities
- Purse or wallet (hidden in briefcase)
- Leather bonded portfolio/notebook
- Have directions to the interview; understand needed park and travel time.
- Know the name and title of the person you are meeting; get the interviewer's business card.
- Research the company and position; understand what the employer is looking for.
- Practice answering questions; be prepared for personal or inappropriate questions.
- Prepare questions to ask the interviewer.
- Send follow-up thank you letter within 24 hours of the interview.
During the Interview
- Greet the employer with a firm handshake and refer to the interviewer by name.
- Watch your nonverbal communication.
- Maintain good eye contact and smile appropriately.
- Be alert and attentive. Show enthusiasm for the position and company.
- If you do not understand the question, ask for clarification. Answer the question asked.
- Emphasize your strong points, showing a match between yourself and the position.
- Know your resume and be able to discuss every aspect.
- Be prepared to answer tough questions.
- Never criticize a former employer, teacher, colleague or school.
- Follow the interviewer's lead. Avoid non sentences (um, uh, ya know, yeah).
- Avoid discussing salary or benefits during the first interview unless a job offer is made.
- Be yourself!
- Navy, black or charcoal suit
- White or colored blouse
- Polished shoes with low heels
- Neutral skin tone pantyhose
- Simple jewelry
- Little or no perfume
Interview Knockdown Factors
- Not prepared for the interview; no research has been conducted on the employer.
- Unable to express self and ideas clearly; poor communication skills.
- Poorly defined career goals; little or no sense of direction.
- Lack of enthusiasm.
- Unprofessional or inappropriately dressed.
- No real interest in the employer.
- Asks too few or poor questions about the job or employer.
- Poor match for the position or organization.
- Unhappy personality; disliked former jobs, supervisors, school, activities.
- Makes excuses during the interview, evasive.
- Only interested in best dollar offer.
- Lack of confidence or poise - fails to look the interviewer in the eye; weak handshake.
- Unwilling to relocate. Unrealistic expectations.
- Did not market self well in the interview.
- Tell me about yourself, - OR - How might a friend or co-worker describe you?
- Why did you choose to interview with our company? - OR - What do you know about us?
- Describe your ideal position, - OR - What is the most important to you in a job?
- What can you offer us, - OR - Why should I hire you?
- Where do you want to be in five years? Ten years?
- What do you consider to be your greatest strengths?
- What is a major weakness you have, and what are you doing to correct it?
- Would you be successful working on a team?
- What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction? Why?
- Do your grades accurately reflect your abilities?
- Are you willing to relocate?
- What sets you apart from other qualified candidates? What motivates you to do well?
- Tell me about your work habits, - OR - How do you work under pressure?
Questions to Ask Employers
(if not readily answered through company literature)
- Why is this position open now?
- What specific responsibilities are required of this position?
- Would you describe a typical day's activities?
- What personal qualities or characteristics are important for success in this position?
- To whom would I report?
- What are some of the organization's short-term goals? Long-term goals?
- When do you expect to make a hiring decision?
- What challenges might I face in this position?
- What is the next step in the search to fill this position?