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Intervew Tips

Preparation

Before you walk into any interview, you should know as much about the company and the position as you possibly can. If you found the position through a recruiter, he or she should be able to provide that information for you. If not, search the web or go to the library. In today's world of mass communication there's no excuse for lack of research.
After you have studied the company write out a list of questions to ask the employer.

Sample Questions Follow

  • Why is this position available?
  • What type of training programs will be offered to the person in this position?
  • What are your goals for this position?
  • What obstacles must be overcome for the person in this position to succeed?
  • How will my performance be evaluated?
  • What opportunities are there for growth in the next 12 months? Two years?  Five years?
  • What growth do you anticipate for your firm in the next 12 months?

No one can predict the exact questions that an interviewer will ask, however, your recruiter should be able to give you a good idea of the hiring authority's personality, his or her typical interview demeanor, and a few important questions that the employer is likely to ask.

To prepare, think about how you would answer the following questions:

Tell me about yourself.  Keep your answer in the professional realm only.  Review your past positions, education and other strengths.

What do you know about our organization?  If you've done your research correctly, you should have no problem answering this one.  Be positive.

Why are you interested in this position?  Relate how you feel your qualifications really match the requirements of the job. Also, express your desire to work for that company.  What are the most significant accomplishments in your career so far? Pick recent accomplishments that relate to this position and its requirements.

Describe a situation in which your work was criticized. Focus on how you solved the situation and how you became a better person because of it.

  • How would you describe your personality?
  • How do you perform under pressure?
  • What have you done to improve yourself over the past year?
  • What did you like least about your last position?
  • What is your ideal working environment?
  • How would your co-workers describe you?
  • What do you think of your boss?
  • Have you ever fired anyone?  What was the situation and how did you handle it?
  • Are you creative?
  • What are your goals in your career?

Interview Do's & Don'ts:

Do's:

  • Arrive 15 minutes early.  Late attendance is never excusable.
  • Clarify questions.  Be sure you answered the questions the employer really asked.
  • Get the interviewer to describe the position and responsibilities early in the conversation so you can relate your skills and background to the position throughout the interview.
  • Give your qualifications.  Stress the accomplishments that are most pertinent to the job.  Conduct yourself professionally.  Be aware of what your body language is saying.  Smile, make eye contact, don't slouch and maintain composure.
  • Anticipate tough questions.  Prepare in advance so you can turn apparent weaknesses into strengths.
  • Dress appropriately.  Make your first impression a professional one
  • Ask questions throughout the interview.  An interview should be a mutual exchange of information, not a one-sided conversation.
  • Listen.  This is probably the most important ability of all.  By concentrating not only on the employer's words, but also on the tone of voice and body language, you will be able to pick up on the employer's style. Once you understand how a hiring authority thinks, pattern your answers accordingly and you will be able to better relate to him or her.

Don'ts:

  • Don't answer vague questions.  Rather than answering questions you think you hear, get the employer to be more specific and then respond.
  • Never interrupt the employer.  If you don't have time to listen, neither does the employer.
  • Don't smoke, chew gum or place anything on the employer's desk.
  • Don't be overly familiar even if the employer is doing all of these things.
  • Don't wear heavy perfume or cologne.
  • Don't ramble.  Long answers often make the speaker sound apologetic or indecisive.
  • On the other hand, don't answer questions with a simple "yes" or "no."  Explain whenever possible.
  • Do not lie.  Answer questions as truthfully as possible.
  • Do not make derogatory remarks about your present or former employers or companies.

Closing The Interview

Too many people second-guess themselves after an interview. By closing strongly and asking the right questions, you can eliminate the post-interview doubts that tend to plague most interviewees.

If you feel that the interview went well and you would like to take the next step, express your interest to the hiring authority and turn the tables a bit. Try something like the following: "After hearing more about your company, the position and the responsibilities at hand, I am certain that I possess the qualities that you are looking for in the (title) position. Based on our conversation and my qualifications, are there any issues or concerns that you have that would lead you to believe otherwise?" You have a right to be assertive. This is a great closing question because it opens the door for the hiring authority to be honest with you about his or her feelings. If concerns do exist, this is a great opportunity to overcome them. You have one final chance to dispel the concerns, sell your strengths and end the interview on positive note.

A Few Things To Remember During The Closing Process

Don't be discouraged if no definite offer is made or specific salary discussed. The interviewer will probably want to communicate with the office first, or interview other applicants, before making a decision.

Make sure you answer the following two questions: "why are you interested in the company?"  and "what can you offer?"

Express thanks for the interviewer's time and consideration. Ask for the interview's business card so you can write a thank you letter as soon as possible.

Follow-Up

When you get in your car, immediately write down key issues uncovered in the interview. Think of the qualifications the employer is looking for and match your strengths to them. Call your recruiter! Immediate follow-up is critical.

A "thank you" letter should be written no later than 24 hours after the interview.