Connect To The
Candidates who know what
to expect in the interview process and who devote
adequate time and effort to their interview preparation are more
confident and therefore more successful. Candidates who pay attention to
the details of their presentation and who are aware of the psychological
and subjective factors of the interview process typically get more job
So You Wanna Ace the Job Interview?
The goal of a good job interview is to get a job offer. No job offer... no job. The interview is the last stage of your job search. It is the most vital prerequisite to getting the job. Your efforts up to this point have won you this invitation... this opportunity... this chance. You have successfully grabbed the attention of an employer who has decided it is time to see you in person. The employer has some idea that you might be qualified for the job, otherwise he would not be committing valuable time to seeing you.
The interviewer, quickly realizing that he or she is in the spotlight and positioned centerstage, might feel somewhat intimidated and self-conscious. However, a job interview is not an inquisition or a confrontation. It is not an interrogation or a police line-up. A job interview is a presentation, a performance, an audition. It is a conversation, a discussion, an exchange of information.
To be successful with a job interview means putting your "best self" forward. Preparing for an interview involves sharpening your communication skills, maintaining a positive attitude, emphasizing your best attributes, and creating a good first impression.
Stress your skills, abilities and strengths. Clearly communicate your accomplishments and achievements.
"The core message about interviewing is that you have to do a good job of selling yourself. Through your appearance, demeanor, and the way you answer questions, you have to convince the interviewer that you possess the skills and personal attributes necessary to be successful in the job."
"You may already have an idea of what an interview is like. Some people break out in a cold sweat thinking about it. The truth is, interviews are not that scary. An interview is not intended to be a one-sided interrogation, where the interviewer is waiting for you to make a mistake... An interview is nothing more than a meeting between two people who are exploring a possible working relationship. Afterall, sitting across the desk from you is not a company, it's a person."
"Throughout the job interview, the successful candidate will seek to project an acceptable image to the interviewer. Since the process is subjective and personal, all preparation in this regard involves five simple principles... be respectful... be relevant... be confident... be positive... be genuine."
Arrive on time. Be punctual. Better yet, arrive early. Treat everyone you encounter as part of the interview process... secretary, receptionist, assistants, other employees.
While waiting for the interviewer, do something that looks relevant. Read any company literature that might be available. Don't fidget. Don't pace. Don't look at your watch. Act cool, calm, collected and confident.
Greet the interviewer properly. Address the interviewer by correct title. Introduce yourself. Shake hands firmly. Be aware of body language... posture, gestures, mannerisms. Be positive. Be confident. Be energetic. Be alert. Maintain good eye contact. Listen carefully. Wait to be seated. Be careful with small talk. Display proper decorum and protocol.
"When it's job-hunting time, then you're going to have to begin to pay some heavy attention to the importance of professional images. You're going to have to make absolutely certain that you put your best foot forward. You're going to have to learn to sell yourself, to show your strengths and to believe in yourself."
A job interview is a business meeting between a job candidate and one or more interviewers. The purpose is to determine whether a match exists between what the company requires and what the candidate offers."
-JOHN LA FEVRE
Put yourself in the employer's shoes. Keep focused on what you can do for the employer rather than what the employer can do for you. Keep in mind the specific needs and interests of the employer. Address the issues that you know the employer cares the most about. Make your comments employer-centered rather than self-centered. Speak the employer's language. Be sure all your statements answer the most important employer question: "What can you do for me?"
Your goal is to sell the interviewer on the fact that you are the best person for the job. You have to persuade and convince the interviewer. You have to win him over. A job interview is no time to be humble or shy.
Be confident without being cocky. Show your stuff without showing off. Emphasize your good points without bragging. Be assertive without being aggressive or overbearing. Be positive without being presumptuous.
Make a conscious effort to use the interviewer's name (title & last name) from time to time as you speak during the interview.
Phrase your statements so that you sound sure of yourself. Speak clearly and grammatically, using good diction and good articulation. Give specific examples. Provide supportive evidence. When you talk about your skills and experience, use strong, supportive words. Offer examples of accomplishments. Support your claims with illustrations, descriptions, statistics and testimonials.
Throughout the interview, your comments should always be very positive and uplifting. You should project a positive attitude about yourself and about anyone or anything you make reference to.
When asked about your weaknesses, be brief. Always turn weaknesses into strengths by showing where you have grown, learned or improved.
Your comments about your past employers should always be positive. Don't criticize another employer or say anything negative about any of your past experiences. All of your previous relationships, situations and circumstances should be described in a positive light. Present your work history as solid and stable, with no reference to conflicts or discord.
Any discussion about your interactions with co-workers, supervisors or subordinates should reflect a spirit of cooperativeness. Show yourself to be an agreeable, fair and likeable person.
Be sincere. Be real. Project positive feelings and emotions. The job interview is a very subjective process. In addition to qualifications, the interviewer is also looking for other clues that help determine if you are a perfect fit for the job...
Do you have a pleasant personality?
Do you have a positive attitude?
Do you express yourself with good communication skills?
Do you possess good social skills?
Do you display proper manners, courtesy and protocol?
Do you exhibit maturity, confidence and poise?
Do you dress appropriately and professionally?
Do you appear to fit in with the organization?
A good interviewee will not only communicate the right information, but will do so in a way that allows the interviewer the opportunity to see his or her personality. What you say is not nearly as important as how you say it. It is important to express genuine feelings and emotions; to exhibit a sincere enthusiasm, dedication and pride in your career pursuits. Through the interview process, the interviewer and the interviewee must succeed in getting to know each other better.
"Once an interviewer meets several candidates who more or less fit the criteria of the position, he won't make the final selection by simply narrowing the list until he finds the most qualified candidate of all. He'll select the candidate who makes him feel the most comfortable. The one whose style is closest to his. The one whose mind works the way his does."
"Everything you do in a job campaign will be wasted if you don't convert interviews into job offers. Be informed about potential employers. Control your interviews. And tailor your communications and the image you project to what each firm is seeking."
-ROBERT JAMESON GERBERG
It is vital to your success as an interviewee to prepare for your meeting with the employer. In advance of the job interview, the candidate should focus on these important items: 1) Research the company, 2) Identify key points, 3) Collect relevant stories, 4) Organize the portfolio, 5) Be ready with questions to ask, and 6) Rehearse.
Prepare for your job interview by doing some in-depth research. Gather useful information about the company you intend to interview with. Learn what you can about the employer. Be informed about the job. Appear knowledgeable of their business and their line of work. Do your homework.
Where can this valuable information be obtained? The public library, chamber of commerce, business publications, company literature, annual reports, employee handbooks, magazine articles.
Plan ahead. Organize your main ideas in advance. Commit to memory the major points of your presentation. Determine your key qualifications. Identify your strengths, abilities and skills. Write them down. Learn them.
Recall a few relevant stories you can tell during the interview. These stories or anecdotal examples should reflect your past experience, set you in a positive light and provide supportive evidence of your skills and abilities. Telling a story allows you the opportunity to communicate positive emotions and feelings... a sense of enthusiasm, pride and dedication. Telling a story makes you more memorable to the interviewer.
SHOW & TELL
Bring along some impressive examples of your work (a portfolio), letters of reference, an award, an article written about you, a paper you wrote or some kind of artifact or prop you can refer to as evidence of your skills and accomplishments.
Ask questions in the interview. Prepare a few good solid ones in advance. Ask the kind of questions that indicate your interest in the company. Don't ask about salary or benefits. Ask questions that reflect your attitude and motivation.
Practice the presentation. Rehearse what you will say in the interview. Conduct a mock interview. Anticipate questions you might be asked. Practice formulating and expressing your responses.
CLOSE THE SALE
At the end of the interview, don't forget to ask for the job. Indicate how your qualifications match the needs of the company. State confidently your assertion that you can, in fact, make a worthwhile contribution to the company.
As an effective means of follow-up, always send a Thank You letter afterwards. It conveys courtesy and appreciation. It is an opportunity to reiterate your interest in the company and to remind the employer of your qualifications.
Preparing for a job interview means anticipating the questions interviewers are likely to ask. Here is a list of sample questions that candidates might encounter...
What are your long range career plans?
Why did you choose this occupation?
What do you consider to be your major strengths? Major weaknesses?
How would you describe yourself?
Why should I hire you?
How has your past experience
prepared you for success?
Name one of your greatest accomplishments.
What have you learned from your participation in extracurricular activities?
What do you think it takes to be successful with our company?
Why did you leave your last employer?
Why did you decide to seek employment with this company?
What do you know about our company?
How have other people described you?
How do you handle yourself in a conflict?
What did you like most about your last job? What did you like the least?
How do you normally deal with criticism?
What really motivates you to perform?
Candidates are also expected to ask questions in a job interview.
Here is a list of sample questions that candidates might ask in a job interview...
What will my responsibilities be?
What are my potential career paths with this company?
What will I being doing in a typical work day?
Where does this position fit in the overall organization?
What role will I play in helping the company achieve its goals?
What are the most important qualifications for this position?
What plans for expansion does the company anticipate?
What new endeavors is the company actively pursuing?
To whom will I be reporting?
What are the company's mission and goals?
Who are the company's major competitors?
Who are the company's major customers?
What will my priorities be?
What kind of leadership responsibilities will I have?
What kind of input and feedback will I receive from my supervisor?
How will my performance be evaluated?
What kind of training will I receive?
What are the prospects for professional advancement?
The phrase "dress for success" means that you project a professional and positive image by wearing appropriate attire to the job interview. Regardless of your career field, appropriate interview outfits generally are conservative, understated, and business-like. Proper interview clothing is what can best be described as "corporate attire."
How you dress for the interview will depend to some extent on the job for which you are applying. Dress one step above what you would actually wear on the job. You should neither underdress or overdress for an interview. As a rule-of-thumb, while "Sunday dress" might generally be appropriate, anything resembling "black tie", wedding, or prom attire is too dressy. Clothing should be cleaned, pressed and in good condition.
Both men and women should choose a simple, conservative business suit. Women in certain career fields may elect to wear a tailored dress. Avoid sporty, cute or casual looks. Solid, dark colors are better than prints. Avoid pastel, bold or bright colors. Muted plaids or pin stripes are acceptable.
Good suit colors for men and women are navy, gray, charcoal or black. Also taupe or pewter shades for women. Skirts that reach the bottom of the knee or longer are appropriate.
Shirts and blouses generally should be a solid neutral color. Men's shirts should be white or pale blue. Women's blouses should be white, beige or red. For women's blouses, most solid neutral colors work.
Red is the best color for men's ties. Patterns should be subtle. Small even patterns or stripes that coordinate with your suit work best. Motifs that are artsy, novel, or loud should be avoided. The tip of the tie should barely touch the top of the belt buckle. Women's neckware is crucial: a broach, pearls, a pin, a rosette, a bow or a tie.
Belts should match shoes. Black or cordovan (burgundy) leather is best for men and women. Also, navy, taupe or deep brown for women. All leather accessories should match.
Accessories to carry should be simple and compact. A leather folder, portfolio or small purse. A good quality pen (The pen should be carried in the inside coat pocket, not the shirt pocket. Do not carry a briefcase. Travel light.
Keep jewelry simple and to a minimum. One ring and a watch. The watch should be of good quality. Women's earrings should be a simple stud type. No dangling earrings or clanky bracelets.
Shoes and socks should coordinate with your suit. Women should select pump-style shoes with a 1 to 2 inch heel in a shade that coordinates with the suit. Women should always wear hosiery. Men should wear mid-calf socks the color of the trousers.
No cologne, aftershave or perfume. Makeup should be light and natural. Fingernails should be cleaned and trimmed. Clear or no fingernail polish is best. Hair should be trimmed, clean, combed and neatly styled. Men should avoid facial hair and earrings. Tatoos and body piercings should be hidden. For women, long hair should be pulled back away from face.
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