Job Search Techniques - Interviewing

Review your best skills and abilities. Having a good resume that you're proud of to review right before the interview can boost your confidence and remind you of what you've accomplished. Think about how your background and experience relate to the position you're seeking? What are your top values? What are your goals? You need to be clear in the interview about what you can offer and what you want to offer.

Write down questions you think you might be asked along with your answers. Practice interviewing with a friend. If possible, videotape yourself to see what non-verbal messages you may be sending. The more you interview and practice interviewing, the better you'll get. This is a good reason for interviewing for a position that you're not sure you want. Before any interview it is important to “psych” yourself up. Imagine the interview going well and imagine that they will choose you. Stay relaxed and practice relaxation and confidence-boosting techniques that work for you.

Research the organization before your interview. Go to a career center or library and look them up. Call the company and have them send you an annual report and any promotional information. You can get information about how they're doing financially, what their company purpose, mission, and philosophy are, and what changes and new directions they have planned. Look them up on the Internet or in your Career Library to find out if they're a local company, a branch of a larger company, how many employees they have, and what their primary product or service is. Talk to family, friends, colleagues, Career Center staff, and industry experts to see if they know anything about the company. If possible talk to people employed by the organization.

Dress one level above the position you are seeking and dress conservatively. No flashy jewelry, bright nail polish, heavy make-up, or strong perfume or shaving lotion. No cigarettes, even if they offer you the opportunity. No gum.

Bring along any information that you might need in the interview: Extra copies of your resume, work history, letters of recommendation, samples of your work (if appropriate) and anything else you can think of that may help the interviewer(s) with their decision. Also take a blank legal pad and a pen. If you carry your information in a briefcase, make sure that it's not scraggly looking or stuffed to bursting.

Be on time. You may want to drive there a day or so ahead of time just to be sure you know how to get there and to see how long it takes. Ten to fifteen minutes early is fine, but five minutes late is not.
Be courteous to everyone you meet. Don't ignore the receptionist in your desire to please. He/she may have more to do with who gets hired than you know.

During the time that you're there, pay attention to how the environment feels to you. Do the employees seem happy? What is the atmosphere like? Does it seem like a place where you'd be happy to work?

Say hello with a strong, confident handshake. You've heard about avoiding a limp handshake, but don't go overboard and break the bones in their hand.

Remember that the person interviewing you is probably just as nervous as you are. They want to make the right choice. Put them at ease with a pleasant, confident manner. Smile, maintain eye contact, talk conversationally to the interviewer. If it seems difficult to break the ice, you could mention something positive that you've learned or know about the company.

Some questions you might be asked include:
*What are your career goals, both short- and long-term? Why did you set these goals? What are you doing to achieve your goals? *Why do you want this job? Why did you choose this career? *What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses? *How would you describe yourself? *What does success mean to you? *How can you contribute to this company? *What achievements have given you the most satisfaction? *Do you work well under pressure? *Why should I hire you? *Why did you leave your last job? *How does your education or experience relate to this job? *Do you feel you work better supervised or unsupervised? Which do you prefer? *How do you deal with conflict? Describe a particular problem you've encountered in a work situation. Describe what happened.

If you are asked a question that really throws you for a loop, don't panic. Think for a moment, breathe, and then answer with confidence. An absolutely immediate response that is not well thought out is not nearly as good as what you would say if you could think about it just briefly. So take a moment and answer how you'd really like to.

Be sure to communicate clearly. Don't leave anything up to interpretation. For example, if this is the job that you want more than any you've interviewed for recently, be sure to say that. If your philosophy matches that of the company exactly, be sure to say that. Don't make them guess about anything that important. Don't leave it up to chance and hope that they'll figure it out from other things that you say.

Be positive. Emphasize your strengths. Know before you go to the interview why they would be very fortunate to choose you. If you believe it, then you will be a lot more convincing. Let them know what you have to offer. Give specific examples of how you know that this is a skill or task that you excel at.

Be a good listener. Be alert to nonverbal cues that indicate when you should start or stop talking. Don't be thinking of your response while the interviewer is still talking or you might miss part of what they say.
Never criticize a former employer or co-worker. Avoid anything negative. The interviewer will not choose you if you complain about how you've been discriminated against in the past, or how angry you are about not being chosen for a job yet when you know you're well qualified. If you're in a very negative frame of mind, you're not ready to interview. Also do not discuss personal information or problems.

Don't raise the subject of salary or benefits until you know they want you. Then you're in a better position to negotiate. It's often best to wait until the interviewer raises the wage/benefit topic. When salary does come up, be prepared. Know what the going rate is for similar positions, and decide ahead of time what your bottom line is. Don't undersell yourself. People are suspicious of things that seem way underpriced.

Ask questions at the end of the interview. An interview is a two-way conversation and you need to know if you would be happy working in their environment. You could ask questions about how the workplace operates, what your specific responsibilities would be (if you haven't seen a position announcement that details the responsibilities, you could ask whether or not there is one that you could see). You could ask whether opportunities for advancement, improvement, or continuing education exist. You could ask who you'll be working with. As with everything else, prepare some questions ahead of time. Before you leave, find out how and when you will be contacted by the employer.

Always thank the interviewer for their time and for giving you the opportunity to let them know of your interest and qualifications for the position. Follow-up with a thank-you letter. In it, restate your interest in the job, summarize key points of the interview, especially anything you learned about the job or the company that makes you even more sure that it is right for you. Call to check and to restate your interest if you haven't heard anything by the date they indicated. Don't call more than once a week.

Be persistent. Don't let not being chosen stop you in your quest for the job you want. Learn from your mistakes. Ask what you can do to increase your chances of being chosen for a similar position elsewhere or in the future. Be persistent.