The interview is one of the most important pieces of the job search, typically being the single most important criterion for hiring. While the employer is evaluating your qualifications, personality and ability, you are evaluating the opportunity and the company. Understanding the purpose is the first step in being prepared and handling the interview with confidence.
- Know the date, time and location of the interview and plan to arrive 10 minutes early; this will give you time to compose yourself. Know the interviewer’s full name and title.
- Research the company web site, LinkedIn and Facebook pages. Find out what the company does and positive elements about them. Refer to them in the interview when appropriate.
- Read over the job description and understand what may be expected from the new hire and your matching qualifications. If the description is vague, try O*NET OnLine, a Federal web site which has detailed descriptions of jobs.
- Practice interviewing. Sit in front of a mirror and rehearse your questions, then answer until you sound like you are having a casual conversation.
- Select your clothes ahead of time - conservative is best. Wear something that is both professional and comfortable. Dress up! No one will fault you for overdressing.
- Clothes should be clean and well-fitting; hair needs to be recently styled. Keep items such as jewelry, makeup and perfume to a minimum and prepare to bring a professional looking portfolio with paper to take notes. Prepare a few questions that you can ask at the end, but ask only about three.
- If you bring a purse with you, carry a small one with only the necessary items.
- Since you’ve arrived early, take a moment to compose yourself in the men’s or ladies room and take a quick once over of your hair, makeup and clothes.
- Introduce yourself to the front desk person and treat everyone with respect. Many times this person will be asked about his/her interactions with the applicants.
- Power down the cell phone and any other electronic devices (unless you need something for a presentation). Do not sit in the waiting area texting or making calls; focus on the moment and on relaxation techniques.
- When you are called into the interview, shake hands with the interviewer.
- Companies are impressed by candidates who are energetic, enthusiastic and positive.
- Bring copies of your resume and references.
- When answering, lean forward, listen to the questions, and then answer using professional language without slang.
- Be prepared for behavioral questions and have at least three scenarios ready. Refer to Live Career, which is a great web site for sample questions and answers.
- Give answers emphasizing your ability to do the job. Demonstrate how your experiences/education can transfer into their job needs (transferrable skills).
- Remain positive and confident at all times (remember, you’ve already practiced this at home in front of the mirror).
- Answer in a conversational manner, give good eye contact and smile when appropriate.
- When asked, “Do you have any questions?” the answer is always yes! Ask about three questions as if you are already in the position. Avoid questions about pay and benefits.
After the Interview
- As soon as your interview is over, write down the interview questions that you can remember, and your answers. This will be your time to evaluate the process and decide what worked well and areas of improvement. Reflect on as many things as possible, including your body language and that of the interviewer(s).
- Send a personal thank you note (email or handwritten) to the interviewer(s). Give further insight regarding your interest in the job and/or additional information that may have been missed during the interview.
- If you are offered the job, be excited! If the opposite happens, try not to hold a grudge or become angry. Thank them again for their time and the opportunity to interview. This shows a high level of professionalism.