Interviewing Tips

Preparing for the interview

Make a good impression at your interview by doing a little homework beforehand.

Research the Company and the Position. The more you know about the company and the job you are applying for, the better you will appear in the interview. An interviewer will be impressed by your interest and motivation and you will be able to explain what you can do for the company.

Find out as much key information as you can about the company, it's products and it's customers. There may be other sources of information on the Web, especially if the company is publicly traded.

Search for the following:

  • Products and services
  • Customers
  • Competitors
  • Philosophy
  • History
  • Recent news
  • Financial information including salary and stock

Rehearse Your Interview with A Friend

Practice your answers to Common Questions. Likewise, prepare a list of questions to ask the employer. Most interviews follow this pattern: First, you answer questions about your experience and qualifications, then you ask questions about the job.

Prepare your interview materials before you leave. bring several copies of your resume, a list of references and if appropriate, any work samples. Make sure they are all up-to-date.

Dress professionally and comfortably. You will be judged in some respects by what you wear.

Take a pen and notepad to jot down any information you may need to remember (but don't take notes during the interview).

Making A Good Impression on Job Interviews

Here's what you should keep in mind the day of the interview and immediately afterward.

Before the Interview:

Be on time. Being on time (or early) is usually interpreted by the interviewer as evidence of your commitment, dependability and professionalism.

Be positive and try to make others feel comfortable. Show openness by greeting with a firm handshake and smile. Don't make negative comments about current or former employers.

Relax. Think of the interview as a conversation, not an interrogation.

During the Interview:

Show self-confidence. Make eye contact with the interviewer and answer his questions in a clear voice. Work to establish a rapport with the interviewer.

Remember to listen. Communication is a two-way street. If you are talking too much, you will probably miss cues concerning what the interviewer feels is important.

Do not ask questions that raise red flags. Ask, "Is relocation a requirement", and the interviewer may assume that you do no want to relocate at all. Too many questions about vacation may cause the interviewer to think you are more interested in taking time off than being employed by the company.

Show you want the job. Display your initiative by talking about what functions you could perform that would benefit the organization and by giving specific details of how you have helped past employers. You might also ask about specific details of the position, such as functions, responsibilities, who you would work with and who you would report to.

Avoid negative body language. An interviewer wants to see how well you react under pressure.

After the Interview:

End the interview with a handshake and thank the interviewer for his or her time. Reiterate your interest in the position and your qualifications.

Send a "Thanks for the Interview" note. After the interview, send a brief thank-you note. Try to time it so it arrives before the hiring decision will be made. It will serve as a reminder to the interviewer concerning your appropriateness for the position.

Common Job Interview Questions

By rehearsing interview questions, you'll become more familiar with your own qualifications and will be well prepared to demonstrate how you can benefit an employer. Some examples:

"Tell me about yourself".

Make a short, organized statement of your education and professional achievements and professional goals. Then, briefly describe your qualifications for the job and the contributions you could make to the organization.

"Why do you want to work here?" or "What about our company interests you?"

Few questions are more important than these, so it is important to answer them clearly and with enthusiasm. Show the interviewer your interest in the company. Share what you learned about the job, the company and the industry through your own research. Talk about how your professional skills will benefit the company.

"Why did you leave your last job?"

The interviewer may want to know if you had any problems on your last job. If you did not have any problems, simply give a reason, such as relocated away from job; company went out of business; laid off; temporary job; no possibility of advancement; wanted a job better suited to your skills.

If you did have problems, be honest. Show that you can accept responsibility and learn from your mistakes. You should explain any problems you had (or still have) with an employer, but don't describe that employer in negative terms. Demonstrate that it was a learning experience that will not affect your future work.

"What are your best skills"

If you have sufficiently researched the organization, you should be able to imagine what skills the company values. List them, then give examples where you have demonstrated these skills.

"What is your major weakness?

Be positive; turn a weakness into a strength. For example, you might say: "I often worry to much over my work. Sometimes I work late to make sure the job is done well".

"Do you prefer to work by yourself or with others"

The ideal answer is one of flexibility. However, be honest. Give examples describing how you have worked in both situations.

"What are your career goals? or "What are your future plans?"

The interviewer wants to know if your plans and the company's goals are compatible. Let him know that you are ambitious enough to plan ahead. Talk about your desire to learn more and improve your performance and be specific as possible about how you will meet the goals you have set for yourself.

"What are your hobbies?" and "do you play any sports?"

The interviewer may be looking for evidence of your job skills outside of your professional experience. For example, hobbies such as chess or bridge demonstrate analytical skills. Reading, music and painting are creative hobbies. Individual sports show determination and stamina, while group sport activities may indicate you are comfortable working as part of a team.

Also, the interviewer might simply be curious as to whether you have a life outside of work. Employees who have creative or athletic outlets for their stress are often healthier, happier and more productive.

"What salary are you expecting?"

You probably don't want to answer this one directly. Instead, compliment the employer. "I am looking for a challenge and an opportunity to prove myself. I am sure if you were to make me an offer it would be acceptable". This tells the employer you are confident in their ability to make a competitive fair offer.

Here are some other job interview questions you might want to rehearse.

Your Qualifications:

  • What qualifications do you have that relate to the position?
  • What new skills or capabilities have you developed recently?
  • Give me an example from a previous job where you've shown initiative.
  • What have been your greatest accomplishments recently?
  • What is important to you in a job?
  • What motivates you in your work?
  • What qualities do you find important in a co-worker?
Your Career Goals:

  • What would you like to be doing five years from now?
  • How will you judge yourself successful? How will you achieve success?
  • What type of position are you interested in?
  • How will this job fit in your career plans?
  • What do you expect from this job?
  • Do you have a location preference?
  • Can you travel?
  • What hours can you work?
  • When could you start?
Your Work Experience:

  • What have you learned from your past jobs?
  • What were your biggest responsibilities?
  • What specific skills acquired or used in previous jobs relate to this position?
  • How does your previous experience relate to this position?
  • What did you like most/least about your last job?
  • Whom may we contact for references?
Your Education:

  • How do you think your education has prepared you for this position?
  • What were your favorite classes/activities at school?
  • Why did you choose your major?
  • Do you plan to continue your education?

Asking Questions During a Job Interview

At most interviews, you will be invited to ask questions of your interviewer. This is an important opportunity for you to learn more about the employer and for the interviewer to further evaluate you as a job candidate. What you learn from an interview may determine whether or not you want the job you're interviewing for. It requires some advance preparation on your part.

Here are some guidelines for asking questions:

Prepare five good questions. Understanding that you may not have time to ask them all. Ask questions concerning the job, the company and the industry or profession.

Don't ask questions that raise warning flags. For example, avoid initiating questions about compensation (pay, vacations, benefits, etc.) or tuition reimbursements. You might seem more interested in pay cheques or time-off than the actual job.

Don't ask questions about only one topic. People who ask about only one topic are often perceived as one-dimensional and not good candidates.

Questions to Ask During a Job Interview:

  • "How does the position and the department contribute to the overall company mission and philosophy?"
  • "What is a typical day for the position you are applying for in the company?"
  • "What characteristics best describes individuals who are successful in this position?"
  • "Does the position offer exposure to other facets of your organization?"
  • "What other positions and/or departments will I interact with?"
  • "To whom does this position report?"
  • "How much decision-making authority and autonomy are given to new employees?"
  • "What are the opportunities for advancement?"
  • "Does your organization encourage its employees to pursue additional education?"
  • "How would you describe the organization's culture/environment?"
  • "What makes your organization different from its competitors?"
  • "How would you describe your organization's personality and management style?"
  • "How is the work environment affected by the organization's management style?"

Common Job Interview Mistakes

Want to know what not to do at the job interview? Learn from the mistakes of others:

  • Arrive late for the interview.
  • Look disheveled and inappropriately dressed.
  • Slouch in your seat.
  • Don't maintain good eye contact with the interviewer.
  • Do your company research at the interview by asking, "what do you guys do here?"
  • Don't make a connection between your skills and the needs of the employer.
  • brag about how great you are, but neglect to cite evidence of your accomplishments.
  • Respond in an unfocused, disorganized and rambling manner.
  • Remain low-key and display no enthusiasm for the job.
  • Answer most questions with simple "yes" and "no" answers.
  • Appear desperate for a job - any job.
  • Call the interviewer by his or her first name, or use the wrong name.
  • Give memorized responses, forgetting parts in the process.
  • Badmouth your current or former employer.
  • When asked, "Do you have any questions?" reply "No."



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