INTERVIEW SKILLS Interviewing: The job interview can be a pleasant and rewarding experience. It gives you and the employer a chance to discuss your qualifications and determine if a match can be made. Interviews vary in style length and can have a number of different interviewers depending upon the organization, so try to prepare for anything. Interview Styles: Directed This consists of a list of specific questions, which are in a certain order every time. Sometimes a checklist will be used to record your answers.
This style consists of broad open-ended questions designed to get you to talk about yourself. It is more conversational in tone than the directed interview. Stress This is an interview designed to see how well you handle stress. Stress interviews are normally used in interviewing for top level positions. However, most interviews do not follow a specific style, but interviews may use their own combination of types instead. Regardless of the style or styles used, an interviewer is basically interested in two things:
• WHY ARE YOU INTERESTED IN THE COMPANY? WHAT CAN YOU OFFER THE COMPANY? Stages of the Interview An interview usually consists of four stages: BREAKING THE ICE This is to help both you and the interviewer “tune in” to the interview situation.
It usually consists of small talk about the weather, your trip to the interview and so on. The content and the duration of this stage is controlled by the interviewer. SHARING OF GENERAL INFORMATION The interviewer will begin to tell you something about the company and the position that is open.
You, in turn, can begin to tell the interviewer how your skills will relate to the position.
You should be concise, using specific examples when ever possible. AMPLIFICATION AND SHARPENING OF FOCUS At this point in the interview, you will be offering a lot of information about yourself. You will be questioned about your work-related values, goals and aspirations. Your qualifications will be explored in detail. The interviewer will be trying to find a fit between you and the position. TRYING IT OGETHER This is the conclusion of the interview. You should clarify the information you have about the next contact. Find out if the interviewer will call you and how soon can be expected.
If you are interested in the job, this is a good time to let the interviewer know. Planning for the Interview: SELF-ASSESSMENT Identify who you are, where you want to go, and how you plan to get there. Analyze your:
• Academic Performance
• Career Interests
• Personal Goals
• Work Experiences
• Special Skills Upon completion of this self-assessment you should be confident in your ability to ace the interview. RESEARCH YOUR PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYER Candidates who demonstrate knowledge of their organization and their community impress employers.
You should acquire some knowledge concerning the size of the organization, criteria for evaluation of personnel, orientation and development programs, geographical location, and industrial and recreational profile of the community, and products produced. Research of this nature is easily accomplished through use of the Chamber of Commerce located in the geographical area of your choice and variety of other sources. Research often raises questions of importance that you can have answered at the interview. Remember, you are seeking a career, not just a job. THE INTERVIEW 1. Be punctual. Always allow ample time to get ready for your interview. The interview is on a schedule too and you may miss the opportunity you have anticipated for a long time). 2. Dress conservatively and professional. Men should wear a tie and suit. Women should apply cosmetics in keeping with good taste. Avoid “over doing it”. Careful grooming of hair, fingernails, shoes and clothes is very important of the both sexes. 3. Expect to be nervous at the outset. Nervousness is a natural function of your system, which helps you perform at your very best. The time to worry is when you do not become nervous. 4. Introduce yourself with a strong, confident handshake and look the interviewer directly in the eye.
A strong first impression will set a positive tone for the interview. 5. Tune in with the interviewer and follow the pattern he or she sets. Be alert, maintain good posture, and relax as much as possible and listen. 6. Talk in a normal tone of voice and maintain frequent eye contact. 7. When responding to a question, pause and think about what you are about to say. Say something other than just “yes” or “no”. Intelligent, well thought-out answer put pluses beside your name. 8. Look for the sign of restlessness in the interviewer and for signs that he or she is about to terminate the interview. (Always leave termination up to the interviewer).
When asked “Do you have any further questions? ” respond as you needs demand. 9. Exit from the interview after expressing a sincere interest in the position. The employer will never know the extent of your interest unless you express it. If you want the job, ask for it. 10. Record results as you viewed them, both objectively and subjectively. Be certain that you know what the next step is – they will contact you, you must contact them, etc. FOLLOWING THE INTERVIEW Provide the credentials, references, or transcripts as requested by the interviewers as soon as possible. Follow-up with a short, typed letter of appreciation for the interview.
This does not include the campaign unless you have been offered a position at this point. Now you need persistence in follow-up. Questions most often asked by the Interviewers: Study the following questions and be prepared to answer them in a positive and concise manner. This is not a comprehensive list, so be prepared for other questions too. 1. Why do you want to work here? 2. What kind of experience do you have for this job? 3. What would you like to be doing five years from now? 4. What are your biggest accomplishments? 5. What is your greatest strength? What is your greatest personal asset?
Your greatest weakness? 6. What interests you most about this job? 7. Why should I hire you? 8. Describe a difficult problem you’ve had deal with? 9. What would you references say? 10. What was the last book you read (or movie you saw)? 11. What salary do you expect? Answer: “Competitive” or “Appropriate to my experience and potential”) 12. How do you handle tension? 13. Describe a situation where your work or an idea was criticized. 14. Tell me about yourself. 15. What is the most difficult situation you have faced? 16. What have you done that shows initiative? 17. Do you prefer working with others or alone? 18.
Explain your role as a group/team member? 19. What do you know about our company? 20. What are your future career plans? 21. What courses did you like best? Least? Why? 22. Why did you choose your particular field of work? 23. Have you held any leadership positions? 24. Have you plans for future education? 25. How do you think a friend or professor who knows you well would describe you? 26. Why do you want this job? 27. How has your college experience prepared you for your chosen career? The Importance of Asking Questions: Questioning the employer with logical, well thought-out questions tends to indicate a high degree of interest.
Interest on your part tends to evoke interest from others. Questions also imply that you are sincere in the job hunting process and all employees’ desire sincerity. Conversely, questions, which are not logical, not well defined and /or asked just for the sake of asking leaves the recruiter with an impression of falseness. Therefore, prepare for the interview: read the organizational literature: talk to others who may be more aware of the particular organizational in which you are interested: and if need be prepare a list of logical, well defined questions to ask the interviewer.
Questions you may ask: (Questions are pertinent only if the answer helps you) 1. What might be typical first impression? 2. Why do you think this job might be the right spot for me? 3. How is your performance appraisal system structures and how often will I be evaluated? 4. Why did you join the company? How long have you been here? What is about the company that keeps you here? 5. To whom do I report? 6. What are realistic chances for growth in the job? 7. Please describe a typical day on-the-job? 8. Describe your deal candidate for this position? 9.
What are the basic responsibilities of this position, and how much time will be spent on each? 10. With whom will I be working? 11. What are the major problems faced by this area of the company? 12. How much travel, and of what duration, is expected? 13. How much pressure might I encounter? 14. What style of management prevails in this area or in the company? 15. What’s the next step in the selection process? 16. Where is the organization going? 17. In the last five years, how many persons have held this position? 18. May I have the copy of the job description? (Ask for this when you set-up the interview).
The questions you have just read are examples of questions to use in an interview. It will be to your advantage to develop questions of your own and to work them in your own style. KNOCKOUT FACTORS These are reasons why candidates receive rejection replies and are listed in order of frequency mention by recruiters. 1. Negative personality or poor impression: More specifically, lack of motivation, ambition, maturity, aggressiveness or enthusiasm. 2. Inability to communicate – Poor communication skills 3. Lack of competence – Inadequate preparation 4. Unidentified goals 5. Unrealistic expectation 6.
Lack of interest in the type of work. 7. Unwillingness to travel or to relocate 8. Poor preparation for the interview 9. Lack of work experience 10. Bad references 11. Poor appearance WHY PEOPLE ARE HIRED: 1. Positive attitude 2. Good presentation of skills needed by employer for the position. 3. Professional in all contacts. 4. Good rapport with interviewer, including letter, phone call, and face to face contact 5. Past experience that supports qualifications for the opening 6. Provides knowledgeable questions and statements about company and job opening, thus providing commitment to research. . Professional appearance, including appropriate dress, neat and clean personal grooming, and friendly attitude. INFORMAL INTERVIEW: This type of interview is very helpful in exploring different careers and networking in your chosen field. It is an integral part of the job search process and all interview skills previously mentioned also apply to this type of interview. The biggest difference between information and job interviews is that in an information interview there is little or no pressure to obtain a job offer, so you can relax, be yourself and gather as much information as possible.
We strongly recommend that you conduct several information interviews, as you will learn more about the field, make valuable contacts, gain interview experience and possibly uncover unadvertised job openings. INFORMATION INTERVIEWS: 5 Steps to Set-Up 1. Identify the career fields, industries, and organizations that you want to investigate further. Try to target areas that seem to match up most closely with your skills, interests, values and personality style. 2. Ask people you know (relatives, acquaintances, friends, colleagues, past employers) if they can introduce you to someone who works there. 3.
Use the Encyclopedia of Associations to identify professional groups in your target areas. If there is a local chapter, plan to attend one of it’s monthly meetings to make new contacts. Also, ask if there is a membership directorship. You can use this list to target people who are appropriate contacts for informational interviews. 4. Once you have identified the people you want to meet, you can contact them by letter or telephone to schedule a convenient time to talk. During your initial contact, you must briefly tell them who you are, explain why you are contacting them, and ask for a short meeting.
If they decline, ask if there is anyone else they can recommend that you call or write. If the answer is still “no”, ask if they have any other ideas about how you might go about meeting people in their field. 5. Before the interview, plan a trip to the library. Read trade journals, annual reports, and other printed materials to glean as much information as possible in advance. Then you will be able to present yourself as a knowledgeable interviewee. INFORMATION INTERVIEW QUESTIONS: Here are some sample questions to get you started. This list is not comprehensive, so please feel free to make up your own: 1.
What is a typical day like? What do you actually do? What do you actually do? 2. What do the really successful people do better than the others? 3. What are the opportunities for advancement within this field or company? 4. How did you get into this field? 5. What do you specially enjoy about your work? 6. What are the frustrations? 7. What degrees or training are necessary for this kind of work? 8. Are there professional trade journals I should read? Which ones? 9. Where, in your opinion, is the best place to look for a job in this field? 10. Is government funding any part of this field? 1. Is there a deficit personal in any part of this field? 12. What are the starting salaries at entry level in this field? 13. What professional organizations do you belong to? Should I join them now? 14. Are you doing what you thought you’d be going when you started? 15. What are some of the difficulties, problems areas, and snarls of this position? 16. How mobile and flexible can you are in this occupation? Location? Hours? 17. How secure is your job? Others in this field? 18. If you were starting out again, what would you differently? 19. What is the future potential for growth?
What areas do you feel promise the most growth? 20. Do you think there is a need for the kind of services (or product) I can offer? 21. Is working for this organization, or one like it, a good way to get into the field? 22. Is there any personal advice you would give a person entering this field? 23. What are some of the most important factors that contributed to your success? 24. What skills are most important for your kind of work 25. Can you give me the names of other people who might provide mw with additional information? May I use your name? DRESSING FOR INTERVIEW SUCCESS:
The instant we set eyes on someone, our minds make evaluations and adjustments at lightening speed. The same is true for potential employers who must assess us so. If you follow the adage “ what you sees is what you get”, you need to look the part or don’t to look the part or don’t expect an offer. To help you pull together your winning look, review the following guidelines: MEN Suit: Colors
• Navy thru Teal Blue
• Charcoal thru Light gray
• Solid colors and pinstripes are acceptable Note: The darker the suit the more authorities it carries. (Caution: never wear back unless applying for an undertaker’s job. Shirt:
• Always wear a long-sleeves shirt
• Always wear a white or pale blue shirt. Shirts with very thin red or blue pinstripe are acceptable, but not the best. A solid white shirt conveys honesty, intelligence and stability: this should be your 1st choice.
• Fabric: Cotton – looks better and absorbs perspiration better.
• Iron and starch your shirt. For the best look have it professionally pressed. Neckwear:
• Tie: should compliment your suit – not match it.
• Fabric: pure silk – makes most powerful impact best choice. Linen: too formal, wrinkles too easily, can only be worn in warmer weather.
Wool: casual in appearance and has knot problems.
• Size: General rule of thumb : the width of your tie should approximate the width of your lapels (anywhere form 2 ? ” to 3 ? ”).
• Length: tie should extend to your trouser belt.
• Styles: Best choices : solids, foulards, stripes and paisleys, do not wear: large polka dots, pictures of animals sporting symbols or manufacturers symbols, or a bow tie or matching tie and pocket square. Shoes:
• Colors: black or brown leather
• Style: lace-up wing tips, slip on (not boat shoes). Socks:
• Blue, black, gray or brown – should compliment your suit. Length: tall enough for you to cross your legs and not show skin.
• Make sure they don’t fall down and bunch up around your ankle (elastic reinforced over-the-calf socks are best). Accessories:
• The Guiding Principle: Do not wear anything that could be conceivably misconstrued or leave a bad impression. Never wear any religious or political insignia in the form of rings, ties or pins.
• Watch: simple and plain is your best bet.
• Briefcase: make strong professional statement/ leather – best – colors: brown or burgundy /design: plain lines – no decoration needed. Belt: should match or compliment your shoes / plain leather with a small buckle.
• Jewelry: wedding band if applicable – any thing more is dangerous.
• Overcoats: blue or beige is your best bets – avoid wearing one if you can, as it’s another thing to carry and lug around. Both:
• Keep hair neat and trim and in a conservative style.
• Do not wear after shave or perfume, you are interviewing for a job not a date.
• Clean your hands and nails. If polished, make sure there are no chips.
• Make sure you have fresh breath. WOMEN Suit: Colors:
• Medium Gray
• Steel Gray
• Black Navy Blue
• Solids, pinstripe and plaids are acceptable
• Fabric: 100% wool is your best choice. Linen is acceptable: however it wrinkles like crazy.
• Skirt Length: Don’t wear anything that soars to the upper thigh if you want to be taken seriously, as an applicant. Safe Bet-Skirt should fall just below the knee. Blouse:
• Wear long sleeves: they project the authoritative professional look you desire.
• Never wear a sleeveless blouse.
• Colors: solid colors are best white, gray, pink or pale blue.
• Fabrics: cotton or silk
• Style: front tie bow, asymmetrical and button down are all good.
• They say something dramatic about you make sure it is positive.
• Fabric: pure silk is best as it offers a conservative look, a good finish and tie well.
• Colors/ Styles: solids, foulards, small polka dots, paisleys Shoes:
• Colors – brown, navy, red, black, or burgundy leather (stay away from faddish or multi-colors)
• Heel Height: flats to 1 ? heels are okay. Avoid “high” heels as you will look and feel wobbly.
• Styles: the classic pump, closed heel with a slightly open toe and sling black with closed toe are all acceptable.
• Color: neutral skin tones. Since they are prone to run at the worst possible moment, keep on extra pair in your purse or briefcase. Accessories:
• Briefcase: a symbol of authority – use one (but do not bring your purse too – too much o juggle) / brown, burgundy, blue or black leather.
• Belts – should match or compliment shoes. It is a functional item, if it is instantly noticeable it is wrong. Jewelry:
• Main premise: less is more.
• Restrict rings to wedding and engagement if applicable.
• Necklace and earrings are okay if subdued and professional looking. Make-up:
• Take care to never appear overly made-up. Natural is the key word.
• Eye make-up should be subtle so as not to overwhelm the rest of your face.
• Lipstick – apply sparingly and carefully. Use a subdued color. Body Language: Action speaks louder than words and this holds very true in an interview situation. The impression you make in the first few minutes of the interview will be the most lasting, so you need to be conscious of both your words and you body language. Here are few tips to help make sure you are sending the right signals. 1. The Handshake – should be professional and polite – a firm grip and warm smile. practice this if you need to). 2. Personal Zone – never encroach on another person’s space – maintain the 30-inch standard. 3. Seating – wait till the interviewer offers you a seat. Sit straight and lean forward a little shows interest. 4. Eyes – look at the interviews (don’t stare) it shows interest in the person and the position. M=Never look down. 5. Head – slow nodding indicates interest and validation of interviewer’s comments. 6. Mouth – offer an unforced, confident smile as often as the circumstances allow. 7. Glasses – don’t wear sunglasses – gives impression of secretive, cold and devious. . Arms – do not fold or “protect” chest with hands, clipboard, etc. This sends negative messages (i. e: I’m nervous and closed for business). 9. Hands – watch out for fidgeting with themselves or other objects. 10. Legs – crossed legs send mixed signals – it is safer to keep your legs together with your feet on the floor. 11. Feet – beware of compulsive tapping and avoid dangling your shoe from your toes. 12. Walking – keep shoulder back, maintain an erect posture, smile and make eye contact when appropriate. Some last Reminders: Don’t forget to bring: Several copies of your resume
• Pad of paper
• Reference list
• Letter of Recommendation
• Directions to interview and telephone number’s
• Your job-related questions to ask
• Any information on the company Faux Pas’: Things to be sure not to do during the interview:
• Use first name (unless asked)
• Smoke (even if invited)
• Sit down (until invited)
• Show anxiety and boredom
• Look at you watch
• Discuss equal rights, race, sex, national origin, religion or age
• Show samples of your work (unless requested)
• Ask about salary, benefits and vacation.