There are some easy steps that you can take that will increase your chances of success at interviews.
First, remember that job interviews should be a process of two-way communication. Not only are they a tool for employers to use to evaluate you, but they are also an opportunity for you to assess the job, the organization, and to see if there is a "fit."
The keys to a successful interview are preparation and practice. The following suggestions will help you prepare for an interview:
It is important for you to think about yourself and your past experiences in order to be ready to articulate what you have to offer an employer. Consider the following topics:
- How your present and past experience relate to the position
- Your current and future career goals
- What skills and expertise you have to offer
- The skills that you would like to develop or improve
- Kinds of people and environments you prefer
- Past experiences you want to highlight
Before the Interview
Research the Company - A company's website is an excellent place to begin. It usually gives you information on whether it is international or domestic, what its revenues are, how many locations it has, and the nature of its major products.
Practice interviews - Write down a list of possible questions that you think may be asked. Practicing beforehand will make you feel more comfortable and relaxed during the interview.
Dress Professionally - Find out what the dress code is for the company at which you are going to interview and can ask your recruiter if necessary. Visual impressions are very important. Therefore, if in doubt, always dress on the conservative side.
Arrival - Try to arrive at the interview location a little early. This gives you time to determine where you need to go, and will give you a few minutes to collect your thoughts. DO NOT arrive late. If you learn at the last minute that you are going to be arriving late at the interview, call and let the interviewer know. Interviewers understand that things can come up suddenly. You are never considered late if you call and make them aware of the fact.
During the Interview
First impressions - Establishing rapport, direct and sustained eye contact, a firm handshake, a warm smile, good posture, and introducing yourself in a confident manner are important ingredients. A well-groomed, professional appearance is critical.
Smile - A smile denotes confidence in a candidate. Try to smile often. Also, don't be afraid to use some hand animation while answering questions. This suggests enthusiasm in a candidate.
Body Language - Use good posture, and look the interviewer right in the eye. Sit up straight. Never slouch.
Speak Clearly - Speak with assurance. This indicates confidence.
Listen Before Answering - Make sure you understand the question. If not, ask the interviewer to clarify it. Don't be afraid to take some time to think before answering. Interviewers are impressed with someone who thinks out an answer before speaking.
Give Brief Answers - Make your answer concise and to the point.
Previous Employers - Never, ever say anything negative about your present or previous employers. No matter how much you may have disliked someone, find a way to give your experiences a positive spin.
Be Truthful - Don't lie when asked about something you haven't done. The next question will be "tell us about it."
Know Your Resume - Be prepared to talk about every fact that is on your resume. Many people embellish their accomplishments on their resumes. Avoid this, since the only point of reference an interviewer has about you is the resume you provide to him/her beforehand.
Keep things at a professional level - Sometimes near the end of an interview, the two parties start feeling comfortable with each other. Don't let this comfortable feeling lead you to telling them something about yourself that they really shouldn't know. Always keep things at a professional level.
After the Interview
Back in Touch - Ask the interviewer when he/she expects to get back to you on his/her decision.
Thank the Interviewer - Verbally thank the interviewer for taking the time to interview you, before leaving. Within a day, send thank-you letters to all of the interviewers with whom you spoke if appropriate.
- Focus on presenting a positive, enthusiastic tone.
- If you are asked to describe a weakness, mention lessons learned, and steer away from negative descriptions.
- Think about three or four key points that you want to make about your personal characteristics, skills you have learned, and relevant experiences that demonstrate that you could perform the job well.
- Find specific, rather than general, examples from your experience that illustrate important points about yourself.
- When answering questions, focus on experiences that demonstrate flexibility, adaptability, responsibility, progress, achievement, creativity, initiative, and leadership.
After the interview, write a brief thank you letter. Express your appreciation for the opportunity to interview and learn about the organization, re-confirm your interest, and re-emphasize how your background and skills might be of interest to the organization.
Some Interview Questions
You can expect to be asked some of the following types of questions in an interview.
Case Questions are often used by consulting companies to assess analytical and problem solving skills. The interviewer presents a situation and asks you to discuss possible solutions
Behavioral or situational questions are used to assess how you would behave in different circumstances and to predict your behavior in future, similar situations.
Role-play questions entail the interviewer asking you to put yourself in another role and decide how you would handle a specific problem.
Industry-specific questions are questions regarding the latest trends or issues in the industry.
- Tell me about yourself.
- What are your key experiences and accomplishments?
- How would you rank your achievements?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- How would your friends describe you?
- Explain your reason for leaving your current job.
- What are the most important things to you in a job?
- What do you value in a supervisor?
- How would you describe your management style?
- Give an example of a situation where you demonstrated leadership.
- Give an example of how you worked on a team.
- What questions do you have about the organization? Questions for the interviewer are queries that usually focus on the culture or mission of the organization, and job responsibilities. This is not the time to bring up questions about salary, benefits, and vacation about which you can inquire after you have been offered the job.
The Phone Interview
Due to a company's geographic location, travel costs, and divergent schedules, a phone interview may often be your initial contact with a prospective employer. Below are some phone interview tips.
Objective - The idea behind a phone interview is to gain an invitation for a personal interview, and to gather more information for future steps in the process.
Preparation - Have a pen and a copy of your resume near the phone. Use a phone in a quiet area. Avoid any background noise.
- Smile and be enthusiastic. Your enthusiasm will carry through to the interviewer.
- Speak in a conversational manner, and be sure to speak loudly enough to be heard. Speak with some inflection and tone.
- Let the interviewer do most of the talking. When he/she asks you a question, expound upon the answer. Use the opportunity to sell your skills and experience.
- When the interview is over, let him/her know that you are very interested in scheduling a personal interview at his/her place of business.