When you have identified a possible job and set an appointment for a personal interview, congratulate yourself! You've done your homework. Everything you've done was preparation for this event. It's the most critical stage of your job-search because, there's no payoff unless you make a sale.
Little Things That Make A Difference
The most important non-verbal communication you make about yourself is your appearance and grooming. In the first few minutes the person with whom you are talking will form an impression of you which will affect his/her opinion.
Dressing for success means dressing appropriately for the environment for which you are interviewing. By wearing the quality and style of clothing you would wear if hired, you help the interviewer visualize you on the job. Your appearance should make the interviewer think, "This person will fit in well."
You should be mentally prepared to describe briefly specific personal accomplishments you want the interviewer to remember.
Plan to be on time. In fact, it is good to be early. Check out the situation in terms of location and parking before the appointment.
Make sure you've done your homework. There is certain factual information you should be expected to possess. This is one of the best ways to ensure a successful interview. Investigate the company before you interview (size, product-line, major problems, programs, needs, etc.). This will gain you credibility. For example, if you are seeking a position with a major hardware manufacturer, discover how the product is sold locally. If asked, you will be able to make tactful comments regarding displays, sales approaches, advertising, etc. If not asked, bring it into the conversation to let the interviewer know that you've done some study on the subject.
Sources of information for such homework would be web sites, annual reports, trade journals, news magazines, the company newspaper, people in the field, brokerage houses, Chamber of Commerce publications, and industrial directories.
In a small company, the top people will usually control the hiring procedures. Use your network to gather as much information as possible about these key decision makers and their role in the company. Decide if you will contact Human Resources or the person directly responsible for the hiring. Learn the correct name and exact title and discover the person's background with the company, education, interests, etc.
The interviewer's task is to find out just how effective you might be in a specific job. Prepare answers for the following questions in as clear a manner as possible. Make your responses upbeat and positive. Make sure you've done your research on this company, and it will pay off. Also, always remember that an interview is a "two-way street." You are entitled to ask the interviewer questions in order to determine whether or not you want the job. An easy formula to remember is Q = A + P, which simply means "Q" (the interviewer's question) = "A" (your answer) + "P" (probe -- in other words, you now ask a question). vFor example, suppose the interviewer were to ask you, "Are you free to travel?" You might answer, "Yes," but then follow up your answer with the question, "How much travel does the job require?" Q = A + P. The interviewer's answer to your question could certainly have some bearing on whether or not you want the job.
Typical Interview Questions
Here are some questions you're likely to be asked in an interview, along with some suggested responses.
- Q. Tell me about yourself.
A. Pre-plan your answer to this question, it's usually the first one asked. Talk about your work experience, skills, and accomplishments, not personal statistics such as where or when you were born, or whether or not you are married. Keep it brief.
- Q. What do you know about this company?
A. Be prepared with as much information about the company as possible, especially its products or services. Do some homework on the company's web site, in the research department of your local library, or talk with friends who may work for =or have knowledge of the company.
- Q. Why do you want to work for this company?
A. If you've done some research, this should be easy. Refer to the company's fine reputation, growth opportunities, etc.
- Q. What kind of benefits are you looking for?
A. Answer this question honestly, otherwise you'll be unhappy and less than productive.
- Q. Describe your value to your past (or current) employer.
A. Refer to your resume and your accomplishments.
- Q. You've changed jobs frequently. Why?
A. Unless you've been a victim of layoffs, talk about better opportunities and more money.
- Q. Have you ever been fired?
A. This can be checked, so be truthful. If the answer is yes, you might want to describe the circumstances, and your side of it. Whatever you do, don't bad mouth your boss or the company.
- Q. What did you like best in your last (or current) job?
A. Pre-plan your answer because this question is often asked.
- Q. What direct supervisory experience have you had?
A. Refer to your resume.
When it is appropriate, ask questions during the interview.
The following questions are guidelines only. Use them when and if it is comfortable for you.
- Do you have a job description available?
- With whom would I be working if I accepted a position here?
- What is the most important qualification for this position?
- To whom would I be responsible?
- When will you be making a decision regarding this position?
When the interview comes to an end, be sure to leave in a professional manner
- Thank them for their time.
- Shake hands, look them in the eyes and smile.
- Ask for a business card (from them or the secretary).
- Ask them when they will make their decision.
- Tell them you will call at that time to hear their plans.
Your Career is your business - so start running it like one!