Preparing for an Interview
The interview is your greatest opportunity to sell the skills and qualities that you have to offer an employer. A job interview is the most critical link in the hiring process. There are three simple steps that you can take to help you achieve a successful interview:
- Prepare – Think about your own strengths, and weaknesses. Self-assessment is a valued skill in today’s job environment. Research the position and the organization to show interest. There will be a time for you to ask questions in the interview so the research can help you generate questions. Additionally, make sure your email signature and voice mail message are appropriate for when you are contacted by potential employers.
- Practice – Find a way to take part in practice interviews, either at events within the College/University or with friends. Practice responses to questions that are likely to be asked.
- Sell – During the actual interview most potential employers will ask a question along the lines of, “Tell me a little about yourself.” Sell yourself and your skills to the interviewer. Be sure to talk about how you will be a benefit to the organization beyond just your qualifications.
These three steps go a long way to help anyone succeed in an interview. Remember that first impressions are critical; this means dressing well, being on time, as well as being respectful. After the interview, send a thank you and follow-up with the organization to show your continued interest. Enthusiasm can be the difference between you and other candidates.
Because the job interview is dynamic and individualized, it is not possible to provide you with exact questions and answers that you might face in the process. However, listed here are some general tips, as well as some common questions that most candidates face at some point in a traditional job interview.
Behavioral Interviews - One specific type of questions that can come in an interview are behavioral questions. Behavioral interviews are designed to focus on an individual’s past experiences and performance in seeking to identify desired behaviors that are necessary for success on the job. This type of interview will include questions asking you to describe how you did handle a situation or task. In a behavioral interview the interviewer will probe, asking you to provide details, but will steer you away from theorizing or generalizing about events.
How important are first impressions in an interview? The answer is simple – first impressions are critical. In fact, some studies have suggested that an employer often decides whether to hire or not hire a person in the first few minutes of the interview. Fair or not, it is a simple fact that first impressions are an important consideration in the hiring process. Some things to keep in mind:
- Make sure to arrive early and dress appropriately for the interview. A recent study found that interviewers rated 40% of all applicants as having grooming problems.
- Be polite to everyone you meet. Greet people and learn everyone’s names.
- Always display your interest in the position, even before the actual interview, by looking eager, being relaxed and enthusiastic.
When interviewing for a career opportunity, you should always keep in mind that the interview is not only an opportunity for the organization to decide if you are the right candidate for the position, but also is an opportunity for you to decide if the company is the appropriate employer for you. Asking well-planned questions during the interview is a good method to use in making your evaluation. Make sure that the question that you prepare are not found readily on the company’s website. As the interview continues, be sure to jot down anything that you were not clear about and ask questions at the end.