Preparation Before Your Interview
 

 

Research - Always research the company before your interview. Web sites and annual reports are great resources. Working with a staffing service that knows the corporate culture of their client companies is also an excellent way to obtain meaningful information. By knowing about the company in advance, you’ll stand out from other applicants and be able to ask knowledgeable questions. Also, be sure to learn the correct pronunciation of the interviewer’s name and his/her job title.
Rehearse - Practice answering the sample interview questions in this article with a friend, or rehearse them by yourself. It’s not enough to know what they’re going to ask you—have your answers ready beforehand. You should also prepare questions to ask the interviewer. Examples are included in this article.
 

Prepare - Make sure your resume is current and bring extra copies in a clean folder to the interview. Prepare a list of three to five references; at least two of them should be from previous employers or close business associates. Include day and evening phone numbers and addresses. Do not list family members as references. Do not include your references or salary history on your resume—this is commonly considered unprofessional. Do have your list ready to give the interviewer when he/she asks for it.
 

Dress to Impress - Dress professionally and appropriately. Appropriate attire most often means a suit for men and a pants/skirt suit for women. Hair should be clean and well groomed, suits should be neat and pressed, and women should avoid excessive jewelry or perfume. Never drink or smoke before an interview.
 

Plan Ahead - Know the exact location of the interview site, and leave at least a half-hour early to ensure you arrive on time. Promptness to an interview is expected, and leaves an important first impression. Do not present yourself for the interview more than ten minutes early; however, assuming you arrive sooner than that (and you should), wait in your car, go for a walk, or review your resume one last time.
 

Things to Keep in Mind During Your Interview
 

Be Confident - Greet your interviewer with a firm handshake, and maintain eye contact throughout the interview. Remember that you are selling yourself—so don’t sell yourself short! Prepare to discuss the special talents, abilities, and qualifications that make you the best candidate for the position.
 

Be Enthusiastic - Smile! Look for opportunities to break the ice with casual, friendly conversation. Let the interviewer know that you have visited the company’s Web site or read their annual report, brochures, etc.
 

Be Responsive – Body language is extremely important. Stand when the interviewer enters the room, and remain standing until he/she sits. Respond to the interviewer’s jokes and comments by smiling, nodding, and commenting when appropriate. Maintain good posture and avoid fidgeting.
 

Be Attentive - Listen carefully and attentively to the interviewer, and seek opportunities to ask questions about the company and/or the position. If you wish to take notes, ask the interviewer for permission to do so. Never let your eyes (or your thoughts) wander—it shows disinterest and poor communication skills.
 

Be Brief - Don’t give long-winded answers to their questions. Answer succinctly and clearly—however, if a yes or no question is posed, you should elaborate. You shouldn’t decline to answer a question unless it’s illegal (i.e., regarding your race, age, religion, etc.). If you’re unsure of how to answer a question, ask to have it restated or clarified further. Remember—it’s okay to pause and think before you respond!
 

Relate and Refer - In formulating your answers, make sure they relate to the position for which you’re applying, and refer somehow to your qualifications and abilities. The question behind every question is “Why should we hire you?”
 

Be Professional - Never swear, chew gum, smoke, or make inappropriate jokes. Even if your interviewer displays this behavior, it is neither appropriate nor professional for you to do so.
 

Be Positive - Never speak negatively about past employers, co-workers, or job experiences.
 

Be Yourself - Your unique personality will distinguish you from other applicants who are equally or more qualified for the position—so don’t be afraid to be yourself! If you have a sense of humor, let it show. Try to relax, and recognize that you are also there to see if the position is right for you.
 

Ending the Interview

Thank the interviewer for his/her time, and state your interest in the position.
Ask about the next step in the process. They may tell you to call them, or to wait for their call.
Remember to ask for a business card.
 

Post Interview
Send a handwritten thank-you note within 48 hours of the interview. Tell them how much you enjoyed the interview, how interested you are in the position, and how you look forward to speaking with them again in the near future.


Sample Interview Questions

Remember to relate and refer—your answers should relate to the position for which you are applying and refer somehow to your positive attributes. Never respond negatively.

Tell me about yourself (limit your answer to two minutes).
What interests you about this position?
What motivates you?
What is your work style?
Do you prefer to work in a team setting, or alone?
How have your educational and work experiences prepared you for this position?
Where do you see yourself in five years?
What goals have you set for yourself? How are you planning to achieve them?
What makes you think you can handle this position?
What is your most significant accomplishment to date?
Why do you want to work here? (This is where your research helps out!)
In a particular leadership role you had, what was your greatest challenge?
Give me an example of an idea that has come to you and what you did with it.
Give me an example of a problem you solved and the process you used.
Give me an example of the most creative project that you have worked on.
Tell me about your most difficult decision and how you arrived at it.
What types of situations put you under pressure, and how do you deal with pressure?
Give me a situation in which you failed, and how you handled it.
How would your colleagues describe you?
How would your boss describe you?
How would you describe yourself?
What do you think of your present or past boss?
What are your strengths?
What are your weaknesses?
Of what accomplishment are you most proud?
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
 

Some Potential Questions to Ask the Interviewer

What would you like to see accomplished in this job?
Why has this company been so successful?
What are the company’s short and long term goals?
What will my duties be in this position?
With whom will I be working most closely?
What qualities do you feel would be most important for this position?
What created the need for this position?
When can I expect to hear from you? (at conclusion of inter
view)