Interviewing is the most stressful part
of the job search for many people. But it doesn't have to be. Interviews are an
opportunity to show you are an enthusiastic worker who would do a job well.
You can make the most of that
opportunity by being prepared, presenting a professional demeanor, and
describing your qualifications well.
There are many types of interviews:
screening interviews, designed to whittle the applicant pool; longer second and
third interviews, intended to help employers make final selections; and
telephone and video conferencing interviews, arranged to capitalize on
Although these interviews often have
different purposes, they all require basic interviewing skills. Read on for
advice about what to do before, during, and after a job interview.
Click here -- this section discusses ways to enlist good references, and the special
feature offers tips about job fairs.
Career counselors say a good job
interview starts well before the jobseeker and interviewer meet. Preparation
can be as important as the interview itself. Researching, practicing, and
dressing appropriately are the first steps to making the most of a job
Research. One of the best,
but most fre-quently overlooked, ways to demonstrate enthusiasm for a job is to
research both the company and the position for which you are being interviewed.
Employers say they are impressed by well-informed jobseekers.
Before arriving for an interview, you
should know what the company does, how large it is, any recent changes it has
undergone, and what role you could play in its organization. Try to learn about
the company's goals and values. With these facts, you can show how your
qualifica-tions match the company's needs.
The company itself is often the easiest
place to start your search. Many businesses fill their websites with
information tailored to jobseekers. These sites often include a history of the
company and a description of its products and customers. And many companies'
human resources departments will send recruiting information if you request it.
Public libraries and career centers also
have valuable information about employers, including companies' annual reports
to shareholders, reports kept by local chambers of commerce, trade journals,
and business indexes, such as Hoover's Business Index and Dun and Bradstreet.
yourself. Another important step in preparing for a job interview is to
practice describing your professional characteristics. Think of examples from
past jobs, schoolwork, and activities to illustrate important skills. Recalling
accomplishments beforehand, when you don't have to respond under interview
pressure, will strengthen your answers during the actual event.
Every interview will be different, and
there may always be surprising questions. Nevertheless, interviewers suggest
rehearsing with a career counselor or friend to gain confidence and poise. As a
starting point, try to respond aloud to the following:
- How would you describe yourself?
- What did you like most about your
- What types of courses do you enjoy
- Why should I select you over other
- What are your greatest strengths and
- What are your hobbies?
- Tell me more about the project you
described on your resume.
- Describe a work or school-related
problem and how you solved it.
- Tell me about a time you worked as
part of a team.
- What are your short-term goals?
- Why do you want to work in this
occupation and for this company?
Each question gives you an opportunity
to illustrate your favorable characteristics. When responding, focus on
subjects related to the job. For example, if asked to describe yourself, talk
about your professional characteristics and background, not your personal life.
Some questions -- such as those about
hobbies or interests -- may seem irrelevant. Interviewers ask these types of
questions to learn about your personality and test your interpersonal skills.
In addition, answering questions about your hobbies or interests allows you to
highlight some of your other strengths. Participating in a sport might
demonstrate teamwork; ability in a craft, such as needlepoint, shows an
attention to detail.
Career centers and libraries have many
books with additional questions and possible answers. The goal is not to
memorize responses to these questions but to become comfortable speaking about
yourself, your training and experience, and your career goals. Responding to
interview questions should not sound as if you are reciting a script.
Whatever the question, be ready to
accentuate the positive. The interviewer might ask for a weakness or failure;
choose one that does not affect your ability to do the job, or describe a
shortcoming you are working to overcome. For example, if interviewing for an
entry-level job, cite your lack of paid experience. If there are weaknesses
evident on your resume; or transcript, such as being fired from a job or
receiving poor grades, rehearse an explanation before the interview in case you
are asked about them. Focus on what you learned from the experience, being
careful never to criticize a previous employer or coworker.
Securing a job is much easier if you look the part. A useful guideline is to
dress as you would for an important day on the job, like a meeting with a
supervisor or a presentation to a client.
Clothes should be clean, well fitting,
and wrinkle free. Most employers expect jobseekers to wear a traditional
two-piece suit, preferably in a conservative color such as navy blue, gray, or
black. The object is to look reliable, not trendy. Many employers say that
women's skins should be knee-length or below. Polished, closed-toe shoes
complete the professional image.
Avoid last-minute clothing disasters by
trying on your suit a few days before the interview. And plan for the
unexpected: if you will wear a skirt, buy an extra pair of stockings; if you
have shoes that tie, get more shoelaces. Bring such extras along with you the
day of the interview.
Keep hair neat by tying it back, putting
it up, or cutting it short. Avoid cologne and perfume, large pieces of jewelry,
and heavy or unnatural makeup. These distract the interviewer from your
On the day of the interview, give
yourself plenty of time to get ready for and travel to the interview. Plan to
arrive 10 to 15 minutes early. (Some career counselors suggest making a rest
tun to the interview sire in advance re familiarize yourself with the travel
Consider carrying a briefcase to the
interview. In addition to giving you a professional look, a briefcase serves a
function: it gives portability to things you'll want at the interview. These
include a pen and paper to record important information, such as the proper
spelling of the interviewer's name and the time and date of followup
interviews; copies of your r?sum? or application and references; and examples
of your work, such as writing samples.
Butterflies. Most people
are nervous when interviewing. But remember: You have been asked to interview
for the job because the employer believes you could be right for it. The
interview is your chance to confirm that belief and establish rapport.
To reduce nervousness, interviewers
recommend getting a good night's sleep and maintaining your usual morning
routine-if you never eat breakfast, for example, don't cat a hearty morning
meal on interview day. They also recommend calling to mind some of your
happiest memories or proudest moments before arriving for the interview.
And they remind jobseekers that each
opening you interview for is not the only one that exists. More than one
company recruits for jobs. If one interview doesn't go well, another will.
First impressions. The
interview begins the moment you arrive. Everyone you meet, from the
receptionist to the hiring manager, will form an impression of you. To ensure
the impression is positive, remember that your words and mannerisms will affect
the image you project. When greeting people, smile warmly and shake hands. Make
eye contact and maintain good posture. Don't create a negative impression by
using slang, chewing gum, smoking cigarettes, or giving curt, oneword answers.
Interviewers suggest rehearsing with a career counselor or friend to
gain confidence and poise. The goal is to become comfortable speaking about
yourself, your training and experience, and your career goals.
Standard politeness is important in an
interview because the interviewer knows very little about you. To be safe,
never use the interviewer's first name unless you are invited to do so, and
don't sit down until the interviewer does.
Responding to questions.
After introductions, the interviewer will probably explain the job in more
detail, discuss the company, or initiate friendly conversation. The interviewer
will then ask questions to try re gauge how well you would fill the position.