Preparing for Job Interviews
The interview is your opportunity to convince the employer that you are the right person for the job. To make your best impression, don't neglect to prepare for the interview.
Aside from using the links below you can also prepare for job interviews during a Lunch and Learn session where you gather information about the interview process and expectations of employers. You can also make a one-on-one appointment with the Career and Transfer Coordinator for a mock interview session. Interviewing is an art, and being prepared for an interview with a prospective employer can help you get that job offer you want! Remember that it is often necessary to post your resume and cover letter several times before getting an interview, and applicants frequently interview several times before gaining employment. Don't be discouraged if the process seems slow. Your preparation and perseverance will eventually be rewarded as long as you don't give up.
- Get references and letter of recommendation from 3-6 professional contacts
- Research information about the company before the interview. Important information to look for includes what activities are carried out by the employer, how financially stable the employer is, and what types of jobs exist with the employer. Researching an employer during the job search can help determine more about that organization and your potential place in it. Know how you can help the company and prepare questions to ask the interviewer about the company.
- Be prepared to market your skills and experiences as they relate to the job described. Work at positioning yourself in the mind of the employer as a person with a particular set of skills and attributes. Employers have problems that need to be solved by employees with particular skills; work to describe your qualifications appropriately.
- Practice the interview. Research typical interview questions and plan your responses.
- Plan your outfit. Make sure it is clean, looks its best and is professional.
- Drive to the interview location a few days before the interview so you know where you are going.
- Call to reconfirm the interview the day before, thank the receptionist or secretary by name.
- Get a good night’s sleep the night before the interview.
- Carry a portfolio, notepad or at the very least, a manila file folder labeled with the employer's name.
- Bring extra resumes and a list of questions you need answered. You may refer to your list of questions to be sure you've gathered the information you need to make a decision. Do not be preoccupied with taking notes during the interview.
- Arrive early for the interview. Plan to arrive for your interview 10-15 minutes before the appointed time. Arriving too early confuses the employer and creates an awkward situation. By the same token, arriving late creates a bad first impression. Ask for directions when making arrangements for the interview.
- Look confident and busy while you wait. More than likely you’ll end up in a waiting room for at least a few minutes. Don’t get sloppy, you are already being reviewed by those around you. Bring something to do, look busy, and don’t slouch.
- Carry purses and briefcases in your left hand. Greet everyone related to the interview with a short, firm handshake.
- Speak clearly and enthusiastically about your experiences and skills. Be professional, but don't be afraid to let your personality shine through. Be yourself. Don't be afraid of short pauses. You may need a few seconds to formulate an answer.
- Be positive. Employers do not want to hear a litany of excuses or bad feelings about a negative experience. If you are asked about a low grade, a sudden job change, or a weakness in your background, don't be defensive. Focus instead on the facts (briefly) and what you learned from the experience.
- In many career fields, the lunch or dinner included during the interview day encompasses not only employer hospitality, but also a significant part of the interview process. Brush up on your etiquette and carry your share of the conversation during the meal. Often social skills are part of the hiring decision.
- After the interview, take time to write down the names and titles (check spelling) of all your interviewers, your impressions, remaining questions and information learned. If you are interviewing regularly, this process will help you keep employers and circumstances clearly defined.
- Follow up the interview with a thank-you letter. Employers regard this gesture as evidence of your attention to detail, as well as an indication of your interest in the position.
- Be patient, you might not hear back right away. If you don’t hear from the company, about a week after the interview make a follow-up call to see if a decision has been made.
- Don’t quit your job search just because you found what you think will be your dream job. It might not work out and waiting before applying elsewhere is going to drag out your job search.
Career & Transfer Associate TRiO