PREPARE FOR INTERVIEWS
9 Interview Success Tips
Interviews are the most important aspect of a Job Search. This will be your employer’s first opportunity to get to know you face-to-face. To conduct a top-notch interview requires preparation, practice and follow-up. The following tips will help you show up to your interview feeling prepared and looking professional.
Appearing professional is a sure way to make a good first impression. A good rule of thumb is to think about the type of clothes you would be wearing if you got the job, and dress one level above that. For example, if the work environment requires button-downs and slacks—wear a suit and tie to the interview. However, if the work environment is extremely casual, a suit may be overwhelming, and you may choose to wear a button-down or a polo with nice pants instead.
Several days in advance:
Create a portfolio or folder with copies of your resume and a list of your references and add a list of questions for you to ask your employer.
Plan your entire outfit, try everything on, and look in the mirror. Check for fit, stains, tears, wrinkles, pet hair, scuffs, and overall impression. You may want to have a second shirt on hand in case of spills the day of the interview.
If the interview is located somewhere you have never been, drive to that location once before your interview so that you have a good idea of how long it will take you to get there, and so that you won’t get lost on the day of the interview. Remember to factor in traffic.
Before a video interview, choose a physical site that will be quiet and uncluttered during your interview. Look at your own video image to check what is visible the background. Practice looking at the camera rather than at the image on your screen. Make sure you have the app necessary for the interview and that you are familiar with how it works.
Form back-up plans for potential pitfalls such as babysitting and transportation issues.
The night before:
Help yourself by having everything ready the night before. Lay out your clothes; set your keys or bus pass and your resume portfolio next to the door. If you will be driving, check that you have enough gas in the car.
Before a video interview, check what is visible (or audible!) in the background. Place your webcam at the best angle to make you look natural while looking at the camera.
The career services office offers job interview workshops as well as practice interviews for students. Get all the practice you can, and remember that each real job interview you do also builds your interviewing skills.
Be prepared to interview with more than one person, since the interview may consist of an interview panel or luncheon interview.
Some interview formats may seem casual, but you still need to put your best foot forward. Treat a job fair as you would an on-site interview: dress well and put your mobile on Do Not Disturb.
Before a video interview, check what is visible (or audible!) in the background. Place your webcam at the best angle to make you look natural, and practice looking at the camera rather than the image on your screen.
Remember to answer each interview question behaviorally, whether it is a behavioral question or not. A behavioral answer focuses on your actions: “I handle this type of work situation by doing this_____. Here’s an example from my past:_____. The results of that action were these ____ (and here’s what I learned from that ____).” The easiest way to answer questions behaviorally is to use an example from your background and experience. Then use the S-T-A-R approach to make the answer a STAR: talk about a Situation or Task (S-T), the Action you took (A) and the Results achieved (R). (source: collegegrad.com/interview)
You can find lists of interview questions and approaches to answering them at https://collegegrad.com/interview
Do some research on the company so that you are familiar with who they are and what they do. Form some questions, especially about your role if you accept the position. Asking good questions can show that you are interested in this position and well prepared.
You should only ask two or three questions during the interview, but have a back-up question or two in case the employer answers all of your questions before you ask. Here is a brief list of questions that will work with most employers.
“Can you tell me about the position and the type of person you are seeking to hire?”
“What are the key deliverables for the first year in this role?”
“What are the most important attributes for success in this position?”
“What are the opportunities for future growth/advancement with this position?”
“How is your company responding to competition in the _____ area?”
“What is the anticipated company growth rate over the next three years?”
“Why did you personally decide to work for this company?”
Look up the median/average salary for the job in your geographic location. Set a range for your salary expectations, and practice salary negotiation strategies. Do not give the employer a specific figure. If they mention a salary or range, you can let them know whether it is within your expected range or on the low end for the positions you are considering. You can find tips on negotiating your salary at [HERE].
10-15 minutes early is ideal to show your interviewer that you are serious about the job, that you are responsible, and that you value punctuality. If you arrive more than 25 minutes early, you can spend a few minutes in the car, a lobby or a restroom before announcing yourself.
Begin with a firm handshake and a smile. Keeping good eye contact and open body language during the interview will show the interviewer that you are friendly, easy to work with, and already feel comfortable in this work environment.
At the end of the interview, ask the employer what step comes next in the interview process when the employer plans to select a candidate for the job. If you are certain that you want this position, summarize the top qualities that make you the best fit for the position, then tell them clearly that you would like the job. If you are talking with the Human Resources office, for instance, your interviewer may not be authorized to hire you, but you can ask to move on to the next phase of the process.
After the interview, send a letter or email to thank the employer for the job interview. If you are still interested in the job, reaffirm both your interest in the job, and your qualifications for the job.
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