Landing an interview with a prospective employer is a significant accomplishment. This is your opportunity to make a personal connection with the employer and show why you’d be perfect for the job. Therefore, learning how to prepare and interview well is essential. Interviewers want to see that you are able to present yourself, that you are articulate and comfortable and that you are able to handle difficult questions and situations. They also want to see what kind of colleague you will be. Call today to set-up an appointment to have a mock interview: (316) 978-3688. Schedule an Appointment
- Make sure voicemail messages and social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) are professional.
- Identify your strengths and weaknesses with a self-evaluation. Prepare to state three significant strengths you want the employer to know about you.
- Bring several copies of your resume on resume-quality paper. Familiarize yourself with the contents of your resume.
- Research the organization and familiarize yourself with the position description before interviewing.
- Prepare to describe how your skills, experiences, qualities and accomplishments will compliment the overall mission of the organization.
- Practice responses to behavior-based interview questions using the star format (Situation, Task, Action and Results).
- Prepare interview questions to ask the employer so you can be an active participant in your interview.
- Carry a notebook with you. If you have a portfolio, be sure it is minimal, manageable and contains only your very best examples.
- Dress carefully. Clothes should be professional and conservative.
- Know the location of the employer and how long it takes to travel to your destination.
- Be respectful and professional to everyone you meet in the organization. Anyone you come into contact with may influence hiring decisions.
- Develop a firm handshake.
- Be on time, be friendly, be positive, be a good listener, be enthusiastic, be confident, be polite, be professional, and most importantly, be yourself.
- Follow-up your interview by mailing or e-mailing a thank-you letter the day of the interview or the following day.
- Keep careful records of interview details.
- Be aware that some employers do background checks including credit, criminal and driving records. Some employers also require drug screens and/or physical examinations.
What do you see in your mind when you picture a professional-level job interview? Do you see one person sitting across the table or desk from you asking questions? Your interview may look like that, or it may look drastically different. It all depends on the employer’s hiring preferences.
Employers often use a phone, and increasingly-so Skype, interviews to screen candidates before choosing who to invite for on-site interviews. In larger companies, the phone interview will often be conducted by a member of the Human Resources team.
- Prepare just as you would for a regular interview.
- Have a few work-related questions ready for the caller.
- Keep your resume in close reach and take notes.
- Speak directly into the phone.
- Be sure you are in a quiet location and will not be interrupted.
- Smile! When you are on the phone, employers can hear it in your voice.
This is the most common type of interview. It is typically a one-on-one exchange at the organization’s office.
- A slight twist on this may be a series of personal interviews all conducted on one day.
- Sit up straight in your chair, smile and make eye contact.
- Always have prepared questions for the interviewer.
A panel involves one interviewee being interviewed by multiple interviewers.
- Shake the hand of each interviewer.
- Bring extra copies of your resume.
- When answering a question, begin by looking at the person who asked the question; also make eye contact with the other panel members.
- Thank everyone at the end; send individual thank-you notes/emails.
COMMON INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
- A good answer includes specific examples from past experiences. Don’t lie or exaggerate. When you’re finished answering a question, stop talking — don’t ramble.
- Tell me about yourself.
- What are your strengths/weaknesses?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- Why are you interested in this position?
- What do you know about our organization?
- What motivates you?
Behavior-based questions are structured open-ended questions. The premise of asking such questions is that PAST behavior and performance are the best predictors for FUTURE behavior and performance in similar situations. You will want to draw from previous work experience, classes, activities, team involvement or volunteer experience.
EXAMPLES OF BEHAVIOR-BASED QUESTIONS
- Recount a time in which you applied your classroom learning to another class or project.
- Describe a situation where you coordinated several people to achieve a goal.
- Recount a time in which you managed a project that had an aggressive goal.
- Describe a time that you had to adapt to a difficult situation.
- Describe the organizational process you utilize when simultaneously juggling several projects.
- Describe a time you worked effectively under pressure.
- Tell me about a time you missed an obvious solution to a problem.
- When did you have to make an important decision with limited facts?
- Recount a time when you were tolerant of an opinion that was different from yours.
The interviewer is looking for the following traits in the answers you provide:
Adaptability • Attention to detail • Communication • Creativity • Critical thinking • Customer service • Decision making • Flexibility • Goal setting • Independence • Influence • Integrity • Judgment • Leadership • Listening • Motivation • Organizing • Planning • Policies and processes • Presentation skills • Procedures • Sensitivity • Stress management • Teamwork • Technical knowledge • Time management
First impressions count, and yes, interviewers do judge a book by its cover. Plan in advance how you will dress for the interview, choosing clothes that are subtle, professional, and conservative. Dressing your best shows respect and professionalism. You only have one chance to make a strong first impression!
Things to Remember
- It is better to be overdressed than underdressed.
- Try your outfit before the day of the interview.
- Clothes should fit well and be clean, neat and pressed.
- Colors should coordinate.
- Hair should be neat, combed and conservatively styled.
- Jewelry should be worn sparingly.
- Refrain from gum, candy, drinks or cigarettes.
- Neatness and personal hygiene do make a difference!