Getting the education & training one needs for a good job is, of course, vitally important. The next step, though, also deserves focused attention: the job interview. The job interview serves as a gateway into employment, & being prepared is crucial. Here are some tips on how to be ready:
1. Do your homework, & be prepared. Do whatever you can to be well-prepared will help you be more confident & less stressed going into the interview. Consider doing research on the company for which you are interviewing, which is easier than ever, with Google Search & the rest of the internet at your fingertips. Experts recommend spending at least three hours preparing for each interview. Some colleges will help you by giving you a chance to do a mock interview to get some practice. And be absolutely certain you know how to get to the place where you will be interviewing – no need for the added stress of running late because you can’t find the right building.
2. Look the part. Conduct yourself in a professional manner – part of that is looking like you are a professional. Be punctual – arrive 10-15 minutes before the appointed interview time. While your prospects of landing the job are not entirely dependent on how you dress, your ability to dress professionally speaks to your knowledge of the industry and your interest in fitting in. Generally, you will dress more professionally for an interview than you will if you are hired to work in that environment. In the interview, firmly shake your interviewer’s hand at the beginning & the end of the interview, sit with good posture, speak clearly, & maintain eye contact, but without staring.
3. Be honest, upbeat, & clear with your answers. Your answers should be complete and formulated in a logical, orderly manner. Generally, responses should last only one or two minutes. Be sure not to interrupt yourself, rather finish a sentence before moving on to your next thought. If you don’t understand the question, ask for clarification. NEVER interrupt the interviewer and don’t be afraid to take a moment or two to think before answering the question. Although you should be prepared, it’s likely that at least one question will catch you off guard and you’ll need several extra seconds to think about your response. “Um…Uh…Yea…Uh-huh…Well…Like…I dunno” – These are words and phrases that should be removed from your interview vocabulary. Being able to communicate intelligently is essential to a successful interview. In the first interview, steer clear of asking about salary and benefits. This can be discussed when the company is definitely interested in you!
4. Follow up. Before you leave the interview – especially if it is a second interview – it is acceptable & prudent to ask about the time frame the interviewer has for filling the position for which you are interviewing. Always send a thank you note after an interview (first or second interview, in-person or telephone…always send a thank you!). It is a thoughtful and courteous gesture that will be appreciated by most employers. In addition to expressing your gratitude for the interview, briefly restate the reasons you believe you are right for the job. Stress your value – what you will do for the employer. And if you have not heard back from the interviewer by the time you were told you would hear back, send an e-mail to him or her to say that you are checking in about the status of your candidacy for the job. Even if you aren’t hired and if you continue to be interested in the company, it pays to keep in touch with the interviewer. Often, through persistence, you may be offered a position at a later date.
Keep your chin up – even if you do not get an offer on your first, second, or tenth job interview. The job search process can take a long time, but if you practice your skills and prepare for each interview, you will increase your chances of success. For more in-depth tips on how to handle a job interview click on the links in the “Sources” section below. Happy job hunting!