When an appointment is made for an interview, it is imperative for you to be fully prepared for it. There are three procedures you may follow in order to be properly prepared. They are as follows:
This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your research skills. It is important for you to find out as much as you can about the organization, agency, institution, etc. with which you are interviewing. For example, you should ask yourself the following questions:
You should try to find out what the position you are applying for will be in relation to the whole organization. Try to pinpoint some problems, policies, or philosophies of the organization, and plan to focus on these during the interview.
You can find some of this information in The Career Services Library, Suite 245 Sargeant Student Center or at the UMC library. The following resources in The Career Services Library might be helpful to you:
This research can be very valuable to you during the interview. It will not only increase your self-confidence, but will also impress the interviewer. S/he will regard you as a person who has sincere interest in the organization because you took time to find out something about it.
You need to know many facts about the employer, and the interviewer needs to know many facts about you in order to make a fair evaluation. Interviewers are amazed at the answers that are given to them when they ask the question: Who are you and what do you want to do? Before an interview, know what you have to offer a potential employer.
Evaluate yourself in terms of your strengths, and how you could translate these strengths into skills your prospective employer can use. It is also helpful to know your weaknesses for no one's perfect. If you state a weakness, do not elaborate on it and try to turn it around into a potential strength for the company/organization
Be ready to talk about your career objectives, your long and short range goals and your interests. Study your resume and be familiar with your educational and work background. Practice illustrating how your extra-curricular activities are examples of skills in leadership and responsibility. The most important point to remember when preparing for an interview is that the prospective employer is primarily concerned with hiring someone who will make a valuable contribution to the organization. Be prepared to tell an employer why you should be hired. With many applicants for the same job, it will be up to you to convince the interviewer that of all those interviewed, you are the best choice. To help prepare yourself, study "50
Though it is imperative for you to know yourself and the organization with which you are interviewing, if you are unable to communicate your knowledge clearly and concisely, your interview will not be impressive. You must be able to express yourself to the interviewer.
The best way to improve your communication skills is to practice role-playing before the interview. Ask a friend, your spouse, or roommate, to help simulate an interview. Use "50 Questions"as a guide and make sure you are critiqued on the strength of your voice and eye contact.
Another suggestion for role-playing might be to get together with people who are also preparing for interviews. You could learn a lot by critiquing different approaches and this might also be a good way to boost each other's morale.
A critical point to remember while practicing, is to avoid memorizing what you want to say. Whether you are talking about yourself or the company with which you are interviewing, let it be a natural flow of words. If you come across like you have a speech prepared, your interview will be less effective.
You probably will be nervous during the interview. Concentrate on what is being asked and respond appropriately. Many people make their voices more monotone to sound professional. Don't! Use normal tone and don't speak too softly.
It is better to be a few minutes early than one minute late for your interview. Interviewers have a busy schedule and if you are late, it will cut down the amount of time allotted to you. Most important, if you are late you will make a bad impression.
If you are seeking a professional position, you must look like a professional. A good guideline to follow is to dress as others do in the same occupation. Remember, the first impression is a lasting one.
Women: Wear a simply tailored suit or dress, wear conservative nail polish and lipstick, have a neat hairdo, leave flashy earrings in your jewelry box, be moderate in use of perfume and makeup.
Men: Wear a clean, pressed, conservative suit with a non-flashy shirt and tie. Have your shoes shined and wear plain socks. Have your hair neat and trimmed. Long hair, duck tails and extremely long side burns are out. Clean and trim your nails. Avoid gaudy or flashy jewelry.
The interview situation can vary from a one-to-one contact between you and an employee of the organization (personnel officer, campus recruiter, department manager, etc.), to a panel composed of several different employees representing various levels or functions. The situation also can vary from a single interview with an organization representative to a sequence of several interviews on a given day. Performance interviewing, or in-basket interviewing, is another situation in which you might find yourself. In this case, you will be asked to perform tasks which your possible job will entail in a limited amount of time. Mistakes are expected; the employer is looking for the way you handle yourself. Remember, You need to respond and actively participate in each interview; don't assume what you have told the first interviewer will be communicated to others in the organization.
As stated in the introduction, interviews are unpredictable and no two interviews are alike. A lot depends upon the interviewer for s\he has control and you should respond to that control.
At the beginning of the interview, interviewers usually try to make you as comfortable as possible. Usually they start off with basic questioning from your resume. Since this is information that is familiar to you, the interview will become less tense and you should be ready when the interviewer starts to concentrate on specific facts.
After introductory questioning, the interviewer will usually get right to the point. Some typical questions are:
From this type of questioning, the interviewer will be able to know whether the candidate is just looking for a job by using a shotgun approach or whether a candidate has spent some time in self-appraisal and is trying to meet his/her needs through selective interviewing. The interviewer will also be assessing some of the reasons or motivations for a candidate's actions or activities as well as some of the individual's style of operating. While a resume provides the facts, the interview provides the "why's and "how's."
During the interview, the most important thing to remember is to be honest. The interviewer will not be able to evaluate you fairly if you attempt to con him/her. Telling the interviewer what you think s/he wants to hear is not the purpose of the interview. If you try to con the interviewer and s/he is on to your game, the chance of being invited for a second interview is slim.
Another point to keep in mind: Be prepared to back up what you say. According to interviewers, too many applicants make statements that they are unable to prove. If you state that you have certain skills and abilities, be prepared to cite specific incidents where you have used or demonstrated them.
In some interviews there might be some stress questions thrown in so that the interviewer can get to know you better. Stress questions are usually problem-solving in essence, and there are no right or wrong answers. The purpose of this type of questioning is to see how you think and react under pressure.
One question you should be ready to address is on the salary expected. On your resume it is proper not to mention salaries. You can even leave it open on your application form. But in an interview, you might be asked to state a figure. Know what persons of your general qualifications are being offered as starting salaries in positions similar to the one for which you are interviewing. For salary information, consult resources in The Career Center Library including the National Association of Colleges and Employers Salary Survey. These sources can give you some idea of what your salary range will be. By knowing the rate beforehand, you can be realistic in your terms. Candidates whose rates are too high might price themselves right out of the job. If you are too low, the interviewer might not consider you an ambitious person, and there is a chance you will not be given further consideration. Another possibility is that they might hire you at a lower rate and there will be no chance for negotiating a salary figure. Generally however, it is recommended that candidates allow employers to address salary.
If you have done your pre-interviewing research, then you should have prepared some intelligent questions in advance. Some questions you might ask:
Never ask about vacation time or retirement. These are not work-related activities. You must talk opportunity, not security. You could ask for more information regarding all fringe benefits. It will also be helpful to prepare questions concerning the organization's markets, methods, and projected plans. Ask them not only as they will affect you, but for general information. Interviewers will be impressed by your interest in the organization.
During the interview you should be sensitive to signs that the interview has run its course. Campus interviews are usually scheduled for twenty or thirty minutes. Interviews end in different ways. Some interviewers might look at their watch, which is a cue for you that the interview is nearing an end; some interviewers are blunt by standing up, holding out their hand and thanking you for coming in. Most employer representatives however, expect you to sense the proper time to leave on the basis of subtle indications that your time is up.
When the interview is over thank the interviewer for taking time to talk with you. Re-emphasize your interest in the position and your appreciation for being considered. This is important, since many candidates mistakenly assume that interviewers sense their interest.
If the interviewer does not definitely offer you a job (this is very rarely done in the initial interview) or indicate when you will hear from him/her, ask him/her to estimate a date when a decision might be made for further job interviewing or for an actual offer. This is important because even though the interviewer is interested in you, sometimes s/he may wait until s/he finds someone more qualified. If you get a deadline date, s/he cannot keep you hanging. If the interviewer is impressed with your performance, you will probably be invited to visit the organization, meet other personnel and go through more extensive screening. It is usually after this second interview that a job offer will be given. So in effect, the main purpose of an initial interview is to qualify you for a follow-up.