Now that an interview has been scheduled, you’ll want to ensure that you are fully prepared. No two interviews ever seem to be the same – some interviewers have a standard list of traditional questions, some may conduct a behavioral-based interview with role-playing or situational questions, and many others may prefer a more conversational style.
Regardless of the interview format, there are certain key elements for which you can prepare. While many items highlighted below will be complete common sense for you, you may discover a few new ideas for preparation or tips for the interview itself.
- Have a two-minute summary of your background prepared and rehearsed
- Thoroughly research the company – visit their website, review recent press releases, etc.
- Understand the specifics of the position that you’ll be discussing – review a job description if available
- Research your interviewer – LinkedIn profile, Google search
- Have your resume in front of you
- Have a calendar available to make appointments
- Have a note pad and a working pen
- If you do not have a set appointment time and there’s a chance that your interviewer may leave a message, be sure that your voice mail greeting is professional in nature
- Avoid distractions – find a quiet location to take the call (no radio, TV, barking dogs, screaming kids, etc.).
- Sit up or stand up – your voice projects better.
- Smile when you talk.
- Be positive and energetic
- Verbalize your enthusiasm about the company and the opportunity
- Attempt to identify the next step in the process – try to arrange a face-to-face interview if appropriate
- Ramble on or give life history.
- Ask questions about money, benefits, holidays, etc. – avoid “What’s in it for me?”
- Be negative about past employers, experiences, the economy or your current situation.
- Chew gum, eat, drink
- Answer call waiting
- Tell me about a typical day.
- Tell me about your department and its people.
- Initial priorities and/or challenges in the role?
- How does my background compare to what you are looking for?
- What aspects of my background are you most interested in?
- I look forward to meeting with you personally to discuss this further. I have my calendar right here. When can we meet?
REMEMBER – Your interviewer cannot see your body language, so make certain that you are coming through the phone with a lot of energy and enthusiasm!
Finally – Call your recruiter immediately after the phone interview! This will allow him/her to speak with the client directly after the conversation to reaffirm your level of interest and move the process forward.
- DO prepare the questions you will ask during the interview. Probing questions you might ask: A detailed description of the position? Reason the position is available? Anticipated training program? Advancement opportunities available for those who demonstrate outstanding ability Company growth plans? The next step?
- DO dress in acceptable business attire. Be neat and well groomed.
- DO plan to arrive a few minutes early. Late arrival for a job interview is never excusable.
- DO fill out application forms neatly and completely.
- DO greet the interviewer by surname if you are sure of the pronunciation. If you are not, ask for it to be repeated.
- DO shake hands firmly.
- DO wait until you are offered a chair before sitting. Sit upright in your chair; look alert and interested at all times. Be a good listener as well as a good talker. Smile.
- DON’T chew gum.
- DO maintain good eye contact with the employer.
- DO follow the interviewer’s lead, but try to get the interviewer to describe the position and the duties to you early in the interview so that you can relate your background and skills to the position.
- DON’T answer questions with a simple “yes” or “no”. Explain whenever possible. Tell those things about yourself which relate to the situation.
- DO make sure that your strong points get across to the interviewer in a factual, sincere manner. Keep in mind that you alone can sell yourself to an interviewer. Make the interviewer realize the need for you in the organization.
- DO be prepared to answer typical questions like: What kind of job are you looking for? What are your strengths? Your Weaknesses? What do you know about our company? Why did you choose your particular vocation? What are your qualifications?
- DON’T lie. Answer questions truthfully, frankly, and as “to the point” as possible.
- DON’T “over answer” questions. The interviewer may steer the conversation into politics or economics. Since this can be a sticky situation, it is best to answer the questions honestly, trying not to say any more than is necessary.
- DON’T inquire about SALARY, VACATIONS, BONUSES, RETIREMENT, etc., on the initial interview. If the interviewer asks what salary you want, indicate that you’re more interested in opportunity than in a specific salary.
- DO always conduct yourself as if you are determined to get the job you are discussing. Never close the door on opportunity. It is better to be in a position where you can choose from a number of jobs rather than only one.
- DO ask for the position if you are interested. Ask for the next interview if the situation demands. If the position is offered to you, and you want it, accept on the spot. If you wish time to think it over, be courteous and tactful in asking for that time. Set a definite date when you can provide an answer.
- DON’T be too discouraged if no definite offer is made or specific salary discussed. The interviewer may want to communicate with your recruiter first, or interview more applicants, before making a decision.
- If you get the impression that the interview is not going well and that you have already been rejected, don’t let your discouragement show. Once in a while an interviewer who is genuinely interested in your possibilities may seem to discourage you in order to test your reaction.
- DO express thanks for the interviewer’s time and consideration of you.
- DO ask for the interviewer’s business card so you can write a thank-you letter as soon as possible.