Interview Tips

In any job market, many well-qualified candidates are competing for a single position. Your goal is to stand out among the rest as the best person for the position. While your resume will help you obtain the interview, the interview itself will determine whether you receive an offer of employment. Those who are well prepared for an interview will achieve their goals. Investing the time and energy necessary to prepare will make the difference in your interview success. The following tips will help you in preparing for your next interview.

Know the Company
Do your research! What you know about the company will help you demonstrate that you have interest in the company and the position. This shows initiative and motivation. Take notes on the history of the company, their vision and mission statement, the organizational culture and structure, their successes as well as their services or products. Research the website and the annual report. Also, take a look at the position. Understand the core competencies and how your knowledge, skills, and abilities will align with the position to bring added value to the organization.

Know yourself
Take time to think about your skills and accomplishments in your personal life, work life, and school life. Write down everything that comes to mind. This will help you uncover hidden or overlooked skills and experiences. What you might think is a modest accomplishment might be the one that makes the biggest impression. Once you have listed your accomplishments, think about what skills lead to each accomplishment. Write down how your contributions made this experience successful and what skills were implemented in the process. This may have entailed time-management skills, organizational skills, and team-building skills. Think of some examples of how you have developed these skills from those experiences and how you have learned to apply them to future experiences. You should have at least three examples or experiences to provide the interviewer

The First Impression
You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Punctuality is important, but arriving too early can be negative as well. Arriving on time means to be there 10-15 minutes early. There is never a good excuse for being late to an interview. Get driving directions and if not certain of the location, take a practice run. You should be well-groomed. A sloppy or unprofessional appearance will leave a strong negative impression and could be the negative factor in an employment decision. Dress for success. Dress for the position that you want and not the one you have. You may be interviewing for an entry-level position, but you want to give the impression that you are suitable for a future management level position. The goal is to be taken seriously as a professional. Make sure that your clothes are clean and pressed. Make sure that you are well rested and alert. And most importantly, be confident and positive.

Show up prepared
Always bring several copies of your resume to the interview. Even though you may have emailed or sent in a copy of your resume prior to obtaining an interview, you should always be prepared with copies to provide to the interviewer. Make certain that your contact information is easily identifiable and always use a professional email address on your resume. You may have the opportunity to meet with the hiring manager or other team members and should offer a resume to each person interviewing you. Bring a portfolio with a notepad so you can take notes during the interview. You should also bring a list of references should they be requested. Another tool that will help you stand out among the rest is a “success booklet.” The success booklet includes information on your competencies as well as your accomplishments. It can include copies of your diplomas, certificates, recognitions, awards, and achievements. It should be professional in appearance with binding and not more than 10 pages. Be prepared to leave a copy with the interviewer for subsequent review.

Be a good listener
Pay attention to what is said and how it is said. The interview is intended to be a conversation and not an interrogation. Apply the 50/50 rule; 50% talking and 50% listening. You can learn a lot about the company and the position by listening. You can ask if it is ok to take notes during the interview so you capture key details. This may help in formulating questions to ask the interviewer. Be prepared with some questions for the interviewer. It shows that you are interested in the position and want to understand as much as possible about the expectations of the position and the organization. Do not interrupt the interviewer. Take a look around you and observe the interaction between employees to get a feel for the environment.

Follow up
Always send a thank you letter to each interviewer immediately. Be certain that names are spelled correctly and use proper titles. Thank the interviewer for taking time out of their busy schedule to meet with you. Show that you were paying attention during the interview by mentioning some of the key points made during the interview. Express your feelings about the organization, people, and position. You can express your enthusiasm about the prospect of representing the organization. This is not intended to sell your qualifications. Keep it short. It should be less than one page and it should be mailed within 24 hours. If you have not heard anything within one week, you might want to follow up with a phone call to the human resources representative to determine your status.