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Job Interview Questions and Tips

Believe it or not, interviewers want to hire you. Careful preparation and effective communication have a strong influence on the outcome of the interview. This site directs you through the process that leads to successful interviews.

Preparation

  • The advantages of advance preparation for interviews are numerous. Naturally, if you know what you want to say ahead of time, you can usually articulate it more effectively.
  • The first step in your preparation is to identify your skills, interests, and career goals before you arrive at the interview. A comfortable self-knowledge will help you answer the interviewer's questions about your goals and desired direction within that organization.
  • The next step is to study your prospective employer. The purpose of research is to learn about the company's services, or products, the number of employees, the financial situation, competitors, problems, the management style and employee benefits. You also need to scope out specific employers to determine if they are the kind of organization where you would like to be employed.
  • Impressions are formed during the first two to six minutes of the interview. Thus, what you wear can affect your chances. Dress should be appropriate for the organization with which you are interviewing. You should aim to convey an image of professionalism, authority, and competence.
  • You may wish to carry a briefcase or a professional-looking notebook with your questions written in advance. It is often helpful to take a portfolio to a job interview. This folder of materials adds to your credibility. Generally, a portfolio includes additional resumes and letters of reference. You may also want to include videotapes, writing samples, special reports or even photographs of your work as appropriate. Used appropriately, a portfolio can put you ahead of other job candidates and make the difference in getting a job offer!
  • Finally, be aware that interviewer types vary widely, through most can be categorized as either directive or nondirective. There are several excellent books which offer tips on interviewing including Knock 'Em Dead: With Great Answers to Tough Interview Questions and How You Really Get Hired .

Arrival

  • Always allow ample travel time in order to be punctual. You should arrive 10 to 15 minutes before the interview.
  • After you have informed the receptionist of your arrival, select a chair that will allow you to sit upright and alert. While you are waiting, read any organizational literature that is available.

During the Interview

  • Expect to be nervous at the outset. Interviews most often begin with what's called an "open-ended icebreaker" - the interviewer's invitation to "tell me about yourself." If you anticipate a lead-in opener, you will have ready answers and should find yourself beginning to relax.
  • First interviews normally take about an hour (although most campus interviews last 30 minutes), during which time that candidate's accomplishments are reviewed. Generally 30% of the time is spent on the applicant and 70% on the organization and the vacant position. Under the best circumstances, you should leave the interviewer with the impression that you can do the job. Often, however, you won't know whether you want the job until you've met with the company representative for the second interview.
  • During a second interview, the time ratio changes to 50 per cent on the applicant and 50 per cent on the vacant position. This will be a more detailed session in which the candidate can ask pointed questions about the specifics of the job. Interviewer and candidate communicate both verbally and nonverbal. To build a good rapport you should speak clearly, listen closely, and show by gestures and facial expressions that you are receptive to the interviewer's thoughts and questions.
  • In answering questions, pause to give yourself time to compose an answer that is concise and thoughtful.
  • If you feel you haven't communicated your reply clearly, try again until you are sure that your message has been received correctly.
  • Feel free to refer to your notes in answering questions. Listening to the interviewer is as essential as speaking honestly and forthrightly about your abilities.
  • Concentrate on what is said rather than how you are doing, and you will most likely create a good impression.
  • Listening to the interviewer's questions and statements will help you formulate your responses and obtain a better understanding of the organization's views and work environment.
  • The interviewer may give you the first sign that the interview is coming to a close when he or she asks if you have any further questions.
  • At this point, you should ask questions that will reflect both the insight you've gained from the interview and your professional values. Be careful not to ask something the interviewer answered earlier, although this is the perfect time to ask for clarification on anything you're not sure you understood.
  • You might choose to bring up one or two additional strengths or skills that further match you to the organization - again, brief statements only.
  • If, by the close of the interview, it has not been mentioned when a decision will be made on the selection of a candidate, ask the interviewer directly. Establish a date for your next communication.
  • Thank the interviewer, shake hands, and make your exit. On the way out, thank the secretary or receptionist.
  • Promptly send a thank-you letter.


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