1. Carefully research the company. Learn as much as you can about your prospective employer. Visit its Web site and read their mission statement and/or company philosophy. Identify main products, services and functions. Research their competitors. Speak to employees, vendors or other contacts with inside knowledge. Acquire strategic information that will enable you to speak knowledgeably and offer valuable insight during your interview.
2. Thoroughly read and analyze the official job description. Visit the company’s Web site or ask the recruiter/hiring manager to provide you with this information. Identify key skills and determine whether or not you meet the job requirements. Be prepared to use specific examples (use details) to address their requirements.
3. Be prepared to recognize and engage in various types of interviews. Interviews have different purposes and characteristics. The experienced job seeker should be familiar and comfortable with all varieties. Telephone and behavioral interviews have very different formats and objectives. Telephone interviews are prescreening tools used to determine whether or not a candidate matches the position’s requirements. Employers try to streamline their search by eliminating candidates who do not fit their basic requirements. Your goal is to pass the prescreening test by proving you have the required skills. Your prize is an invitation to a face-to-face interview.
Behavioral interviews are based on the belief that “past performance is an indicator of future value.” After identifying which skills and knowledge are necessary to fill the open position, employers will then develop and ask questions based on these competencies. The questions often ask the job seeker to tell about or describe a time in the past when they had to respond to a certain situation. Interviewers want to know how you handled these issues and what the outcomes were.
4. Be passionate. Every employer believes his or her company is special and unique and therefore wants to hire the best person for the job. Show your passion for the company and its products by preparing “big picture” questions that address the employer’s needs.
Sample questions to ask include:
- What are the two most important tasks and issues related to this position?
- One year from now, what would you like to say about the person whom you hire for this position and what he or she was able to accomplish?
- How will this accomplishment impact the entire organization?
5. End strongly. Finish the interview by quickly summarizing how you can deliver solutions to their problems and ask “Have I successfully addressed all of your job requirements to your satisfaction?” Thank the interviewer for taking the time to speak with you. Sincerely express your interest in the position and ask what the next step will be. Request the interviewer’s business card.
Do’s & Don’ts of Interviewing
- Arrive on time – at least 15 minutes early to fill out the application.
- Treat the receptionist as if he/she is the CEO.
- Project a professional image. Dress appropriately. In these more conservative times, it's better to dress more conservatively, at least for the first interview. It is better to be over-dressed.
- Go in prepared. Do your background research, including internet, newspaper, etc. about the company, products, services and the person you are meeting with. Bring extra copies of your resume.
- Reflect on ways you could contribute to the company. Be concrete and use examples based on past history and contributions to current/previous company.
- Be engaging. Let your enthusiasm and interest for the job shine through. Clients don't hire wooden boxes. Use action verbs and appeal to the senses.
- If you were part of a team effort, acknowledge the team's contribution. If your achievement was your contribution, let the interviewer know (without bragging).
- Have fun and relax. If you are tense, you'll be seen as rigid and uncomfortable. Take a deep breath before you start the interview.
- Ask for the job. “Mr. Interviewer, based on what you’ve said and what I’ve researched, I want to work for (company name) , take on the challenges and contribute to the success of your organization.”
- Send a thank-you note within 24 hours. This demonstrates your interest, attention to detail and another opportunity to market yourself. Reference key points covered during the interview and why you would be the perfect fit.
- Oversell yourself. Stick with what you know and what you’ve accomplished. If you don’t have that specific experience, just say “I am a quick learner and would be more than happy to take courses and training modules to gain that experience”.
- Undersell yourself. This is not the place to be modest. Make sure you can draw attention to specific accomplishments, and quantify and qualify them.
- Use jest or humor to joke about your potential employer's products, services or employees. The hiring manager is an extension of the company's brand. He/she is proud to work for the company. In addition, no swearing or off color jokes.
- Talk badly of previous employers, employees or companies. It will come back to haunt you.
- Tell lies. Be honest. It's the best policy. If you have something to hide, the future employer will find out.
- Interview in a monotone voice. It's boring and puts people to sleep. Modulate your voice, use inflection. Smiling helps too. Practice in front of a mirror.
- Discuss compensation or benefits during the 1st interview. Show the interviewer you are there for the position, company, opportunities and NOT comp/benefits.
As companies look to save time and reduce the cost of hiring a new employee, phone interviews are becoming more and more common in the job search process. Therefore, it is important to prepare yourself for a phone interview. Here are some tips for turning your phone interview into an in-person interview:
- Schedule it for a quiet time. If you have the opportunity to schedule the time of the phone interview, be sure to schedule it when you know you will be able to give them your full attention. Make sure the kids are busy, the dog is outside, and it is the most convenient time for you. You do not want to have any distractions or any loud noises that may distract you and/or your interviewer.
- Have your resume next to the phone. Be sure it is the same copy you had sent out to the employer who is calling. Your interviewer will be looking at your resume throughout the interview, and you want to be sure you know exactly what he/she is talking about. You do not want to come off as being unsure of some of the details of your work history. Be prepared to answer questions like, “why did you leave ABC company?” or “why are you looking for a career change?”
- Have prepared answers ready to some basic questions like, "why do you want to work for our company?" or "why should I hire you?" Use your notes to help you say exactly what you want to say. It is a good idea to use easy-to-read bullet points so you are not reading it out loud.
- Be prepared to pick out areas on your resume (accomplishments, programs you’ve designed/implemented, etc…) that you might want to elaborate on using specific details. Remember, so far your resume is the only tool your caller has to know who you are.
- Research the company. Use the Internet or make some phone calls to find out more about their product or mission. You should jot down a few things in your notes that you can refer to in case questions that require company knowledge come up. You will be remembered more than another candidate if you show interest and knowledge about their company.
- Have questions ready. Show your interest in the employer rather than focusing only on yourself. Have a few questions prepared in your notes that you might want to know about. Make the interview a bit more personal and more like a comfortable conversation.
- Know your schedule. If your interviewer is interested in setting up an actual face-to-face interview, know what your availability is. The last thing you would want to do is succeed in a phone interview only to tell them to call you back because you are not sure when you can meet them.
- Plan a closing. How many times have you thought of something you SHOULD HAVE said AFTER you left an interview? Do not let that happen again. Having prepared notes that you can cross off as you interview can make the difference between getting an in-person interview and being just another candidate.