Preparing for an Interview

As we all know, first impressions are very important, especially on a job interview. If your first impression isn’t positive, it is unlikely you will have a second chance. Naturally, the first thing someone sees is the “packaging.” Unless told otherwise, a business suit is always appropriate. Be sure no one article is overpowering — fragrance, jewelry or makeup — this applies to both men and women alike. Display confidence by presenting solid eye contact and a firm handshake.

Always be prepared! Learn as much as you can about the company and the people you will be speaking with. Company information is readily available on the Internet and can prove a great reference tool. If working with a recruiter, they can offer insight into “what to expect” from each person you will see.

Allow plenty of time for appointments and call ahead to confirm.

Bring at least one copy of your resume for each person you’ll be meeting and any additional information you may need to complete a formal job application. Have available the names and telephone numbers of prior supervisors, peers and/or subordinates for references.

Prepare a list of questions about the company and be sure to inquire about the company goals and what they expect the applicant to accomplish. Take notes!

Be prepared to discuss strengths, weaknesses, major accomplishments and how you handle difficult situations. If your skills and industry background are not a match to the position, explain how your qualifications are appropriate. Refrain from “story telling” and answer questions concisely and honestly. Do not be evasive or interrupt the interviewer. Be pleasant and smile even if the interviewer tries to put you on the defensive. Maintain eye contact throughout the interview. Show an interest in the interviewer by asking about their background and reasons for coming to the company.

Close the interview by asking what the next step is, when you can expect a response, and thanking them for their time. Follow up soon after by sending a handwritten thank you note to each person who interviewed you. Always ask for a business card for proper spelling and title.

Ten Commonly Asked Interview Questions
You should practice answers to these commonly asked questions. This will help you to answer questions without stumbling over your words.

Why did you leave your last job?
What were your top accomplishments?
What areas do you need to develop?
Describe your ideal position.
Describe your ideal supervisor.
Be able to relate some examples of your ability to be a team player.
What did you like best/least about your last position?
Describe how you work under stress/pressure.
What motivates you?
Why should I hire you?

Five Questions You Should Ask
Write out a list of at least five questions to ask at the end of the interview. It is much harder to think of a well-worded question when you are under pressure. Below are some examples:

Please explain what my day-to-day responsibilities would be.
Can you please describe the organization of the company?
What are the short term/long term goals for this department and how does that relate to the company as a whole?
What are some of the abilities and skills needed to be successful in this position?
Tell me about the company’s management style.