The interview is one of the most important steps in your job search. As an interviewee, you are primarily a salesperson and you are selling yourself! It is during the interview that you will have a chance to talk positively about your skills and what you have to offer someone if they hire you. Since adequate preparation is the key to interview success, we recommend that you meet with a career counselor. A mock interview is conducted just like a real job interview. At the end of the mock interview the counselor will talk to you about your strengths and areas of improvement, as well as suggest tips to help you when you interview.
What to Expect at an Interview
The Interviewer wants to know:
- A lot of information in a short time
- How well you can communicate
- Work experience, skills, abilities, and education
- What you want, what your goals are
Length of Interview:
- Varies: usually the interviewer tells you the length
- Group interviews take longer
- 20% of the interview time is spent on ice breaking (making you comfortable).
- During 40% of the interview time, the interviewer is asking questions.
- Applicant's Questions take up 35% of the interview time.
- Closing Remarks make up 5% of the interview time.
- You ARE EXPECTED to ask questions!!!
- Focus on how you might fit into the job and/or company
- Learn more about requirements for the job and possibilities for advancement
How to Prepare for an Interview
Preparing for your job interview begins before you even show up. Yet, interviewers are continually amazed at the number of applicants who drift into job interviews without any apparent preparation.
Feeling nervous prior to a job interview is normal, but there are things you can do to prepare yourself so you will be more comfortable and confident.
Things you can do to get yourself ready:
- Know the exact location and time of the interview and the interviewer's name. Give yourself more than enough time to get to the interview. Be sure to have the telephone number of the company/organization in case of an emergency.
- RESEARCH THE COMPANY. Knowledge about the company better prepares you to ask and answer intelligent questions.
Information to research on the company includes:
- Size of company
- Array of product lines/services
- Number of branches
- Location of home office
- Who are the competitors
- Percent of growth in last five years
- Geographical locations
- Organizational structure
- Current market trends
- Researching the company can also help you decide if it's an organization you want to work for.
- Prepare questions on the company and the position.
- Review the list of most commonly asked questions and prepare answers for each.
- Review your work experience and skills. Think of what you want to highlight during the interview.
The Interview Process
Phase 1: The Introduction
During this phase the interviewer gains a first impression immediately. The interviewer is aware of appearance, manners, personality, and energy level. You have five minutes to make an impression! Make it a good one by remembering to:
- Dress professionally: conservative suit and conservative colors, no wild ties, attention-grabbing jewelry, strong scents, or gum
- Hair should be neatly groomed
- ALWAYS be on time -- arrive 10-15 minutes early
- Greet the interviewer with a firm handshake
- Bring extra copies of your resume and references
- Bring your portfolio: include such things as writing samples, published articles, spreadsheets, software programs, evaluations, etc., printed on good quality paper
Phase 2: The Interview
The interviewer is going to ask you questions based on different areas, particularly about your background. The interviewer seeks specific information about your previous education and work experience. You will be evaluated on your ability to communicate not only specific information, but your ideas, your level of confidence, competence, and potential.
Assuming that you have the necessary background, a positive attitude and a good personality, the recruiter will begin the process of matching your career goals and interests to the employer's job openings. You must draw some conclusions about the position. Does it fulfill some of your career needs? Will it provide an acceptable work environment and chance for advancement?
- Maintain eye contact with the interviewer
- Use brief statements, but steer away from straight yes and no answers
- Be confident, honest, positive, relaxed and specific
- Think carefully before you speak; ask the interviewer questions if necessary
- Always show interest
- Speak clearly
- Don't speak unkindly of others
- Don't criticize yourself
- Volunteer any relevant information to the interview that hasn't been covered
- Ask questions that indicate your interest for the job (type of work you will be doing, how your performance will be evaluated, details on the training program or other aspects of the company operation)
- Avoid questions concerning salary or benefits. Allow the recruiter to initiate that topic
Assuming the interviewer is interested in you s/he may do a selling job on the company and talk about training, advancement, salary, and benefits. S/he may ask if you have any final questions that bring the interview to a close. S/he may conclude by arranging for the next meeting or indicating that you will receive some specific communication within the next few weeks.
- Express continued interest in the job or inform interviewer if you are no longer interested in the job
- Ask the following questions:
- What's the next step in the interviewing process?
- Can we schedule the next interview now?
- When is a good time for me to follow up?
- Is there any reason why I would not be considered for this opportunity?
- Thank the interviewer and give another firm handshake
- Ask for a business card
- Send the interviewer(s) a thank you letter within 24 hours after the interview