Interviewing Tips for Professionals
If you have conducted a career search, you have probably participated in an interview. The interview is one method used by employers to select people. It may be the only time in the selection process when employer and candidate are face to face.
There is a technique to successful interviewing. A candidate who masters interviewing has an edge over others. This pamphlet will answer some questions you may have about interviewing. Our intent is to provide you with tools to sharpen your interview skills and give you an advantage in today's employment market.
How important is the interview?
The interview is the best opportunity you have to gather facts about a position and sell yourself. In many cases the decision on whether or not you are hired will be made based on your interview. Other factors, such as your resume and recommendations, also play an important role. The element of personal contact, the interview, provides the most critical information to the employer: Will you fit in? Are you confident as well as competent? Does the employer feel at ease with you personally and professionally? The impression you make will remain with the employer after the details in your resume have been forgotten and will influence the employer's hiring decision.
A well prepared candidate is more likely to impress an interviewer with his or her alertness, competence and confidence. If your answers are well thought out and direct you will find you will be more at ease. The more comfortable you are, the better your interview will go.
How do you prepare?
Ask your personnel consultant for details about the position for which you will be interviewing. Your consultant can tell you about the requirements and responsibilities of the position. Both of you can then look at your background and talents and determine what makes you right for this situation.
Know your background and work history. The interviewer will probably ask questions about things noted on your resume or application. Be sure you remember positions you have held and the nature of your responsibilities. It will be to your advantage if you can relate your past experience to the company's requirements.
Develop a clear idea of your goals. Potential employers will be interested in knowing about your commitment to achievement. This question is usually framed by asking you about your long range plans or professional goals. Your goals may not include a desire to get to the top in a short period of time. Many people simply want to be productive by putting their skills to use in a pleasant atmosphere. Discuss your goals with your personnel consultant. This information can help you far beyond the interview.
Know your strengths and weaknesses. In an interview you must try to sell yourself to a potential employer. Emphasize your strong points and capabilities whenever possible. Be prepared to answer questions about your weaknesses. Make your "weaknesses" work for you by preparing a response to include the nature of the weakness and plans you have made to overcome it. The interviewer will be impressed at your ability to understand and deal with your shortcomings.
Do your "homework" before going on an interview. A little bit of preparation can make a difference when you are face to face with a potential employer.
Can manner and appearance create an impression?
Dress, attitude, tone of voice, and mannerisms all create a strong impression. An interviewer uses this impression to judge such features as reliability, confidence and ability to adjust to new situations. Attitude and visual impression are as important as the things you say.
How should you conduct yourself?
Be polite and calm. Many interviewers are just as uneasy as you are. Put the interviewer at ease by indicating your genuine interest in the discussion through your attitude. If you appear calm and courteous, the interviewer's task will be made easier-a plus for you!
Dress appropriately. Although each situation is different, some general rules apply. Avoid wearing outlandish clothes. Try to estimate what other people in the office might wear and dress accordingly. It is most important to appear neat. Discuss appropriate dress with your consultant.
Express enthusiasm for the position components and for your role should you get an offer of employment. Enthusiasm is contagious! If you are sincere in your enthusiasm about working conditions and your ability to be successful, the interviewer will be enthusiastic about you.
Speak positively about former experiences. One mistake made by candidates is to complain about a previous employer. Find something positive in every experience and emphasize that.
Speak positively about your abilities. The interviewer will be looking for someone with self confidence. Create a good impression by speaking about your proven capabilities and your ability to acquire new skills.
Sit properly, avoid nervous habits, smoking, or chewing gum. Body language creates an impression about your attitude, enthusiasm and self confidence.
Mariner and appearance are important components of a successful interview. Interviewers react favorably to self confidence, positive attitudes, politeness and alertness.
What will the interviewer's questions be like?
Most interviewers will question you in one of two ways. Either they will follow a series of questions and answers to get information or they will ask you to talk about yourself in a less structured manner. Once you have prepared yourself, you should have no difficulty with either approach.
What rules can be followed in responding to questions?
Answer each question directly, with little hesitation. Do not stray from the subject. Examples can enhance your answer by pointing out how your experience relates to the interviewer's question, Avoid discussing incidents which are not directly related to the conversation. Be as specific as possible.
If you have no prior related experience, draw your examples from other experiences. Your service record, school record and community activities can be valuable attestations to your abilities. Use them in addition to, or instead of, references to work experience.
Be aware of the interviewer's reactions, You should sense if you are being understood. If there is some doubt, ask the interviewer if the question has been answered to their satisfaction. Be aware of how you are being received and try to adjust your approach accordingly.
What types of questions can you expect?
Of course, you can expect the standard questions about your past experience and future goals. In addition you might be faced with a few of the following:
The interviewer may ask you personal questions to determine your ability to perform. Be prepared to answer these questions so that your response is job-related. Emphasize how you have successfully balanced your personal and professional life. Cite favorable records or recommendations.
Some interviewers will want you to summarize your abilities and show why you are right for the position. If you have prepared properly, this response will be at your fingertips. Draw parallels between your skills, interests, and the requirements. Your argument will be convincing if it is based on well considered facts.
You may be asked why you are considering a new position. The answer should stem from your professional goals and from your reasons for leaving a previous position. Present a clear answer to show that you have given the question a lot of thought. The interviewer must be convinced that you have a genuine interest in their specific position.
You may be asked if you have any questions. This is your chance to interview the interviewer, and should be used to full advantage. Prepare a mental list of questions about duties, the number of people you will be working with, etc. The interviewer will be glad to take time to answer questions. Choose your questions carefully. Avoid discussing benefits, sick days, and similar issues at your first meeting. The interviewer will be impressed by someone who seeks information before making a decision.
Answering and asking questions in a manner which demonstrates careful thought and confidence is an effective interview technique. Avoid speaking in haste. Always stick to the subject.
Is there a proper way to end an interview?
Your final words will leave the most lasting impression. However, you choose to make your departure, do so on a positive note. Here are some hints for a positive close to an interview.
Thank the interviewer for his or her time. An expression of gratitude for being given the chance to meet with a potential employer is always appreciated.
Ask for the position. You have gained nothing unless you get an offer. Without a definite offer, you have nothing to consider. At the least, ask when a decision will be made.
Send a thank you note. This thoughtful touch will allow you to thank the interviewer for his or her time and to reaffirm your interest.
Even saying goodbye makes an impression. Your comments and attitude should be well controlled during your entire meeting right through to the end.
How can you remember or practice all of these things?
Many people cannot practice their responses and approach to an interview. You are in a special position. You have a personnel consultant who is willing to take time to help develop your interview skills.
Your first interview is with your consultant. The consultant's mission is to help you get an offer of employment. Work out any questions you may have with your consultant so that you will be prepared when you begin talking with prospective employers. By discussing your needs, desires, and any possible problems with your consultant, you will not be surprised during the interview.
Take advantage of your consultant's opinion. Your consultant is a trained professional who can analyze the impression you make in an interview. Be sure to discuss your interview style with the consultant and give careful consideration to his or her advice.
Be open and honest with your consultant. Your consultant can answer questions that you might not want to ask the employer directly. It is important that you discuss any concerns about salary, location, hours or responsibilities, before they become major problems.
How important is the interview?
As the information presented in this pamphlet has shown, the interview is critical in getting any position. Having a successful interview means being well prepared, creating a good impression, answering questions clearly and confidently, and closing on a positive note. When you have mastered interviewing you have mastered the art of getting the position you want.