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INTERVIEW BASICS

Plan Ahead – Nothing says “I’m not that interested in this job” like someone who has done no research and knows little about a company. It’s easier than ever to find information about a company and its activities – candidates who don’t could be perceived as lazy, unmotivated or disinterested. Do a little homework! Research the company and the position if possible, as well, the people you will meet with at the interview. Review your work experiences. Be ready to support past career accomplishments with specific information targeted toward the companies needs. Have your facts ready!

Role Play – Once you have finished studying, begin role playing (rehearsing). Use the general questions provided below in the Interview Preparation Area. Write down answers if it helps to make your presentation more concise. Try to keep your answers to the information your new employer will want to know.

Eye Contact – Maintain eye contact with your interviewer. Show you want the job with your interest.

Be Positive – In particular, avoid negative comments about past employers. No matter how tempting it is to share woes from prior jobs or how much an interviewer is pushing you to do so, it’s never a good idea to say negative things about a previous employer. The interviewer will assume you will also be likely to bad mouth their company in the future. Also, avoid jokes, sarcasm, or ‘personal’ stories in an interview. The hiring manager is not a peer, so they will expect a serious or professional demeanor in an interview. An interview should be the ultimate example of how you will act on the job and treat other employees or customers.

Be honest – Interviewers don’t expect you to have all the answers. Often they are testing your reaction to “tough questions” to see how you respond under pressure. It’s much worse to get caught in a lie than admit you don’t know something. If you are unsure of an answer, it’s ok to say you don’t know but then outline the steps you would take to find out – this will demonstrate you’re a problem solver.

Adapt – Listen and adapt. Be sensitive to the style of the interviewer. Pay attention to those details of dress, office furniture, and general decor which will afford helpful clues to assist you in tailoring your presentation.

Relate – Try to relate your answers to the interviewer and his or her company. Focus on achievements relevant to the position.

Encourage – Encourage the interviewer to share information about his or her company. Demonstrate your interest. Some suggested questions to ask the interviewer are provided in the “Questions You Could Consider Asking the Employer” section.

Don’t get too personal – The last thing an employer wants to do is to hire someone who brings all their personal drama to the office. Even if the interview seems casual, always keep it professional and avoid sharing unnecessary personal information.

EXAMPLE QUESTIONS

Prepare for these common open-ended questions – “Tell me about yourself?” “Why do you want to work here?” “What motivates you?” These questions may seem easy, but because they are so broad, candidates can get tripped up by them if they don’t know where to start or when to end.

Below are questions you may be asked in the interview.

Answer the questions on paper, or verbally. This will help you be prepared for an interviewer response.
1. Tell me about yourself? (try to hold your response to 2 minutes)
2. What do you know about our company?
3. Why should we hire you?
4. What can you do for us that someone else can’t?
5. What do you look for in a job?
6. What skills and qualifications are essential for success in the position of ______?
7. How long would it take for you to make a meaningful contribution?
8. How does this assignment fit into your overall career plan?
9. Describe your management style.
10. What do you believe is the most difficult part of being a supervisor of people?
11. Why are you looking for a new career?
12. How would your colleagues describe you?
13. How would your boss describe you?
14. How would you describe yourself?
15. What do you think of your present or past boss?
16. What were the five most significant accomplishments in your last assignment?
17. What were the five most significant accomplishments in your career so far?
18. Can you work well under deadlines or pressure?
19. How much do you expect if we offer you this position?
20. Why do you want to work for us?
21. What other positions are you considering?
22. Have you kept up in your field with additional training?
23. What are your career goals?
24. What are your strong points?
25. What are your weak points?
26. How did you do in school?
27. What position do you expect to have in 2 to 5 years?
28. If you took the job what would you accomplish in the first year?
29. What was wrong with your current or last position?
30. What kind of hours are you used to working or would like to work?
31. Do you have your reference list with you? (Remember don’t give it out unless it is asked for).
32. Can you explain your salary history?
33. What questions didn’t I ask that you expected?
34. Do you have any question for me? (See Questions for the Interviewer that you might want to ask below).

Below are questions you may want to ask the Interviewer.

Do NOT ask all of them, pick 5 that matter to you, and that will impress the employer.
1. Why is this position open?
2. How often has it been filled in the past five years? What were the main reasons?
3. What would you like done differently by the next person who fills this position?
4. What are some of the objectives you would like to see accomplished in this job?
5. What is most pressing? What would you like to have done in the next 3 months.
6. What are some of the long term objectives you would like to see completed?
7. What are some of the more difficult problems one would have to face in this position?
8. How do you think these could best be handled?
9. What type of support does this position receive in terms of people, finances. etc?
10. What freedom would I have in determining my own work objectives, deadlines, and methods of measurement?
11. What advancement opportunities are available for the person who is successful in this position, and within what time frame?
12. In what ways has this organization been most successful in terms of products and services over the years?
13. What significant changes do you foresee in the near future?
14. How is one evaluated in this position?
15. What accounts for success within the company?
16. These questions are presented only as interviewing guidelines. They are meant to help you prepare for the interview. Some questions may or may not be appropriate for your interviewing situation.
17. By practicing your responses to some of these questions, hopefully you will not be taken off guard if asked one of them. Most importantly, relax, go with the flow, and before you know it, you’ll be in your next job.

QUICK INTERVIEW TIPS

Here are the keys to successful job interviewing. Follow these simple rules and you should achieve success in this important phase of job-hunting.

DO
• Do take a practice run to the location where you are having the interview — or be sure you know exactly where it is and how long it takes to get there.

• Do plan to arrive about 10 minutes early. Late arrival for a job interview is never excusable. If you are running late, do phone the company.

• Do greet the interviewer(s) by title (Ms., Mr., Dr.) and last name if you are sure of the pronunciation. (If you’re not sure, do ask the receptionist about the pronunciation before going into the interview.

• Do shake hands firmly. Don’t have a limp or clammy handshake!

• Do dress the part for the job, the company, the industry. If your not sure about dress style for the interview, be conservative/professional.

• Do greet the receptionist or assistant with courtesy and respect. This is where you make your first impression.

• If presented with a job application, do fill it out neatly, completely, and accurately.

• Do bring extra resumes to the interview. (Even better, if you have a job skills portfolio, do bring that with you to the interview.)

• Do make good eye contact with your interviewer(s).

• Do stress your achievements. And don’t offer any negative information about yourself.

• Do have a high confidence and energy level, but don’t be overly aggressive.

• Do close the interview by telling the interviewer(s) that you want the job and asking about the next step in the process.

DON’T
• Don’t chew gum during the interview.

• Don’t tell jokes during the interview.

• Don’t smoke, even if the interviewer does and offers you a cigarette. And don’t smoke beforehand so that you smell like smoke. And do brush your teeth, use mouthwash, or have a breath mint before the interview.

• Don’t using poor language, slang, and pause words (such as “like,” “uh,” and “um”).

• Don’t say anything negative about former colleagues, supervisors, or employers.

• Don’t answer questions with a simple “yes” or “no.” Explain whenever possible. Describe those things about yourself that showcase your talents, skills, and determination. Give examples.

• Don’t bring up or discuss personal issues or family problems.

• Don’t answer cell phone calls during the interview, and do turn off (or set to silent ring) your cell phone and/or pager.

• Don’t inquire about salary, vacations, bonuses, retirement, or other benefits until after you’ve received an offer. Be prepared for a question about your salary requirements, but do try and delay salary talk until you have an offer. (You might consider visiting our salary tutorial for more tips and strategies.)

INTERVIEW ETIQUETTE

1. Dress professionally. 87% of employers have had an applicant arrive at an interview dressed inappropriately. When in doubt, remember it is better to be overdressed than underdressed.

2. Be on time. Almost 20% of employers state that they would disqualify a candidate who was 10 minutes late. Plan your route ahead of time, prepare your clothes, and fill your car with gas. Punctuality is important.

3. Turn it off. Make sure you turn off your cell phone or better yet, leave it in the car. 68% of interviewers will immediately disqualify you if you take that call.

4. Know names. Dale Carnegie says that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language. Learn as many names as you can before you go, pronounce them correctly, and interject them often into the conversation.
5. Make a strong first impression. Stand tall, offer a firm handshake, and look your interviewer in the eye. First impressions count.

6. Engage with small talk. When you enter the interviewer’s office, they may try to break the ice with some small talk. Try to find areas of common interest and don’t rush through this important social ritual.

7. Non-verbal’s count. Ask a friend to help you identify any distracting non-verbal habits you may have such as poor eye contact, nervous gestures, or a tapping foot. Sit still, listen well, make good eye contact, and you will appear confident and competent.

8. Let the interviewer take the lead. Only sit after the interviewer sits or upon invitation. Don’t accept refreshments unless the interviewer also partakes. Let the interview proceed at the interviewer’s pace, not yours.

9. Ask questions. 82% of interviewers state that it is very important for you to ask questions. Research the company ahead of time so that your questions are informed and in keeping with the position for which you are interviewing.

10. End strong. End with one more firm handshake. Express your gratitude, and follow-up with that all important thank-you letter within 24 hours.