Interviews

Job interviewing is one of the toughest things in life. You have to sell yourself and your skills, and you often the third degree about what you know or don't know, AND you have to stay upbeat and enthusiastic throughout each interview. Follow these job interview tips to help prepare you to interview effectively.

 

Pre-Interview: Get Your Interview Gear Ready

 

  • Lay out your clothing in advance – from head to toe. You don't want to be frantically searching for a missing sock or clean shirt on the day of the interview.
 
  • Make sure your outfit is clean and neatly pressed and take care of other time-consuming chores (polishing your shoes, trimming your nails) the day before the interview.
 
  • Dress to impress the employer – not your boy/girl friend. You will not be hired for your sense of style (as great as that may be). You don’t want anything about your appearance to detract from your abilities and skills to do the job.
 
  • Dress appropriately for your field or trade.
    • Don’t wear trendy or revealing clothing.
    • Keep your make-up subtle and the jewelry low-key.
    • Keep piercings to a minimum and conceal tattoos as best as you can.
    • Don’t smoke in the car on the way; it lingers and is a big turn off.
 
  • You never get a second chance to make a first impression!
The Science Behind A Good First Impression:
 

How To Make A Good First Impression

 

Pre-Interview: Prepare Yourself

 

  • Know the interviewer's name, how to pronounce it and use it during the job interview. If you're not sure of the name, call and ask prior to the interview.
 
  • Make sure you know how to get to your interview in advance. Do a practice run the day to time the distance and find parking.
 
  • If you arrive about fifteen minutes before the scheduled interview time, you will have time to calm down and collect your thoughts. You will also show your interviewer that you value his or her time by not wasting it by being late. Punctuality is very important to employers and this is your first chance to show them that you will be an employee who will be on time.

 
  • Your interview starts in the parking lot, so be conscious of your surroundings. Any onlooker could be one of your interviewers or your future boss. Act accordingly. Be courteous and professional to everyone you meet, from the security guard to the receptionist. If you make small talk with strangers, be positive and pleasant.
 
  • Turn off your cell phone!
 
  • Make sure all of your documents and portfolio are ready to go. You will also want to bring a spare copy of your resume and copies of your letters of reference. Eventually (if you are hired) employers will want to see your ID and Social Security Card.

 

During the Interview: It's More Than Just Questions

 

  • Good eye contact, a warm, natural smile and a firm handshake
       can help you overcome nervousness, develop a personal rapport
       and present a confident image.
 
  • If you have a hard time making direct eye contact, try looking
       at the middle of a person’s forehead or at their nose.
 
  • Be aware of your body language. Maintain an open body posture and appropriate eye contact. Smile.
 
  • Don’t be embarrassed by nervousness - it shows that you are taking the interview seriously.
 
  • Try to avoid nervous mannerisms such as tapping your fingers, feet, playing with pens, etc.
 
  • Be yourself! You do not want to get hired on the basis of something you are not. You want to be hired for who you are! Try to relax and stay as calm possible and your true awesomeness will shine through.

 

During the Interview: Answering Questions

 

  • Follow the interviewer's lead. Don't try to take over the interview. Stick to the main subject at hand, but do not dwell too long on one point. It is better to deal with many short answer questions rather than just one or two in-depth questions.
 
  • Avoid personal stories, especially ones filled with “drama”. A potential employer doesn’t want to hear about how your boyfriend/girlfriend wrecked your car and got a DUI and that is why you don’t have transportation. If anything, be vague about personal things. NEVER tell an employer that you are or might be pregnant - they may hold that against you.
 
How to Answer "Tell Me About Yourself

  • Let the interviewer bring up money and salary. Even though everyone knows that salary is important, you do not want to give the impression that it is the only consideration. The interviewer needs to see that you are interested in the other aspects of the job like the potential for growth in the company, gaining new knowledge, or the challenge of the position.
 
  • Emphasize the positive. Be honest, but never apologize for lack of experience or weaknesses. You can be self-confident without being overconfident or cocky.
 
  • Don’t be afraid to take “think time” before you reply. Use silence and intentional pause to your advantage. Time is occasionally needed to think and to reflect. The interviewer will respect you for taking a question seriously enough to give it a moment or two of consideration before answering.
 
  • If you’re caught off guard with a question, say, “That’s a good question; let me think about that for a second.” This will buy you some time to gather your thoughts.
 
  • Don’t know an answer? Be honest! Employers do not expect you to know all of the answers; they don’t like “know it alls” who think they do either.
 
  • Listen to the entire question before you answer and pay attention to what they are asking you- you will be embarrassed if you forget the question!
 
  • Do not play comedian or try to entertain the interviewer. It is important to be personable, but do not overdo it.
 
  • Do not exaggerate or lie. You might be tempted to embellish your achievements in the interview, but it will come back to haunt you on the job!
 
  • Do not use slang and terms like “you know?” and “like”. Also be aware of “ums”. These are little patterns in our speech that sometimes we ourselves are not even aware of. Record yourself answering a few questions so you can hear how you sound. It may sound corny, but you will be really surprised when you hear your vocal “tics”.
 
  • Don’t ever speak badly about a former employer. If there were problems with previous experiences, try to put your answers in the positive rather than the negative. If you talk dirt on a former employer, the interviewer may assume that you will someday do the same to him or her.

Use Your Back Burner!!

Your brain is an amazing organ and will continue to think about things even if  you think you're not thinking about them anymore! Got that?
 
Our subconscious brain will keep working on a problem to figure it out. So if you  read through possible interview questions  now, they will sit on your back burner and your brain will work on good answers and examples.

The PDF documents below are a list of frequently asked interview questions and tips on how to answer them and an interview rubric you may find helpful.

 

Ending the Interview: Closing the Deal

 

  • Almost all interviewers will ask if you have any questions. You should have some ready and should have at least one that is related to the conversation you have just completed. This demonstrates that you are both prepared and interested. Some questions include:
    • What are the next steps in the interview/hiring process?
    • When will you be making a decision about the position?
    • May I have one of your business cards? 
 
  • You should not ask questions like "How long to I have to wait before I can take a vacation?" Save those “what's-in-it-for-me” questions for later.
 
  • Don’t expect an immediate job offer. There may be other interviews they need to conduct before they decide on who they will hire.
 
  • If you are offered the position on the spot, it is completely appropriate for you to ask for one or two days to think about the offer before responding.
 
  • End quickly and courteously with a firm handshake, thanking the interviewer for their time.
 
  • Always follow-up with a thank you note reiterating your interest in the position. If you interview with multiple people send each one a thank you note. While a letter sent in the mail is always appreciated, sending an email is considered fine too.