Are you nervous? Most people equate job interviews with live performances onstage. Anxiety is a normal reaction but can be minimized by knowing what to expect. Be prepared.
TYPES OF INTERVIEWS
Interviews may be conducted in the following manner:
a face-to-face interview with the employer
a pre-screening telephone interview
a panel interview with more than one interviewer
a video interview
a computerized interview
multiple interviews with the same employer
BEFORE THE INTERVIEW - PREPARE
The most frequent mistake an interviewee makes is to appear too casual OR too anxious. The easiest way to avoid either of these impressions is to be prepared. If you know your product - yourself, your customer and the employer, you won't babble, ramble or sit mutely while you fumble for an answer.
You already know about yourself. You have a PERSONAL DATA BOOK, a PERSONAL BUSINESS CARD and probably a RÉSUMÉ. Review them just prior to your appointment.
RESEARCH THE COMPANY
Now, how do you find out about the employer? Simple research will tell you:
what products/services the company provides
who the customers of the business are
who will interview you (if your contact was someone other than the interviewer)
what kinds of jobs are available within the company
how many people are employed there
if anything particularly interesting has happened to the business recently (expansion, new owners, new product line, etc.)
There are a variety of ways to obtain this information.
Use your network. Find someone who is or has been employed by the company.
Visit the company. The receptionist may be able to provide printed promotional material on the company and its products/services.
Check with the local Chamber of Commerce and the public library for annual reports or other published material such as:
Thomas' Register of American Manufacturers
Fitch Corporation Manuals
Standard and Poors Corporation Records
Dun & Bradstreet Reference Book
Business/Finance Magazines or Chronicles
Go on-line, using the Internet.
Ask Georgia Department of Labor staff about their knowledge of the company.
Make notes and review them just prior to the interview.
SOME FINAL REMINDERS
Make sure you have the correct address AND know the way to the interview!
Arrive 10-20 minutes early to create a good impression and give yourself a chance to organize your thoughts.
Dress one level above the clothes appropriate for the job you're seeking (in most cases).
Greet the interviewer by name (use Mr. or Mrs.).
Offer a firm handshake.
Wait until the interviewer indicates that you may be seated.
Sit up straight and maintain eye contact.
Refrain from smoking, gum chewing or drinking beverages.
Remember, you are a guest. While you are expected to participate fully, the interviewer is in charge.
DURING THE INTERVIEW
Fear of tough questions creates most of the anxiety experienced during an interview. The following are examples of inquiries that require thought before answering. Remember that your responses should always be positive and related to your situation.
Tell me about yourself
Give a brief description of educational and/or training background (unless this information may be negative). Then explain your skills. Remember the "Proof by Example" exercise? If you give personal data make it brief and try to relate it to your skills.
What type of work are you looking for?
Be specific! If several jobs are available, state your preference, adding that you learn quickly and would be willing to develop new skills. Never say "anything" or any other vague answer.
Why are you unemployed? Why did you leave your last job?
If you are unemployed due to company closure or lack of work, simply explain the circumstances. If you are reentering or just entering the work force, briefly explain why...e.g., in school, raising children, self-employed. If you were fired, be honest. Talk briefly about the circumstances, and emphasize that you have learned from it. Do not, under any circumstances, badmouth a former employer!
Why have you been unemployed for so long?
Some answers may be the same as #3 if you've been out of the labor force. Otherwise, explain that you have been diligently looking for work but that jobs using your skills are not readily available in the area. You have made a career change and entry jobs are more difficult to find. Never say that you've been living on your unemployent/severance pay and taking a break!
Why do you want to work for this company?
Stress the positives you have heard about the company. Show that you have done your homework by giving information you obtained from your research.
Can you explain these gaps in your employment history?
If there are legitimate, reasonable explanations, briefly explain the circumstances as in #3 and #4. Otherwise, try to present the gaps as positive experiences. If you were looking for work during the gaps, stress your efforts.
What are your strengths?
Use only job-related abilities. Remember your skills list, including the self management skills. Present them as you did in the "Proof by Example" exercise. Never say you don't know or don't have any particular strengths.
What are your weaknesses?
Turn weaknesses into positive statements about your potential job performance. Some examples are irritation with co-workers who have no pride in their work; a tendency to be a "workaholic" if a project excites you. Never say you have no weaknesses! You may express legitimate weaknesses (i.e. time management, people pleaser,etc.) which you now have under control through improved self-management and/or professional development.
What will your former employers say about you?
Stress positive aspects about your job performance, attendance, and work habits. Describe any work-related awards and/or exceptional evaluations. Again, never badmouth a former employer.
Why do you want to change jobs?
This question is usually asked of persons who are currently employed but looking for another job. Explain that you wish to change careers, if this is the case. Otherwise, stress strong points about the employer such as, "I understand your company is a leader in this market, and I would like to be involved with a leader."
What salary are you seeking?
If you have done your research, you should know what the company is paying and can tailor your answer accordingly. Give a range and add that you are willing to negotiate.
You may run into other questions that give you problems. Most of today's interview questions are situational and test your ability to think on your feet and communicate effectively. Do the best you can during the interview, keeping your responses positive and brief. When you get home, write the difficult questions down and work on a good answer to them. The question may come up again!
Now it's your turn. Most interviewers will ask if you have any questions. Always be prepared with several appropriate questions, such as:
Could you give me more specifics about this job?
What particular strengths are required for this position?
How long is the training period for this job?
When do you plan to make a decision?
After the interviewer responds to your last question and begins to indicate that the interview is ending...
ASK FOR THE JOB!
Be assertive and clearly indicate your interest. Tell him again that you believe your skills would be an asset to the company. Ask when you may call to find out his decision.
Thank the interviewer for his time. Say that you enjoyed the opportunity to discuss your qualifications.
AFTER THE INTERVIEW
Immediately follow up with the employer by sending a brief thank-you. The note should
express appreciation for the opportunity to discuss the job
reaffirm your desire to work for the employer
express confidence that you can make a difference
reinforce your skills and strengths
close by saying you are looking forward to hearing from them
Remember to include your PERSONAL BUSINESS CARD.
Would you like to sit back and wait for the call? You can't. While you wait, get on the phone again. Touch base with your network. Keep moving.
Wouldn't it be wonderful to choose between two or three or four or five job offers? It can happen. Good luck!
Reprinted courtesy GA Dept. of Labor