by Andie Radford
Congratulations! Your diligence paid off and you’ve landed a job interview. Now all you have to do is show up with a positive attitude and a smile right? Wrong! You still have a lot of work to do. The harder you prepare for your interview, the more confident you’ll feel – and appear – and the easier the interview.
Follow these steps to knock ‘em dead during the interview:
- Study the company. The more you know about the company, the more you will be able to anticipate any important issues facing the company. Some of these issues may reveal themselves in the form of interview questions. If not, use your knowledge about the company to impress your interviewer with relevant, thoughtful questions about the company. This sends a message that you took the time to learn something about the company before the interview. Most employers have a company website with lots of information. Go to the section commonly called “about the company,” or go to the page for investors. Another helpful technique is to use internet search engines such as Google or Yahoo to search for current articles about the company.
- Practice answering questions. It’s one thing to put your accomplishments in writing on a resume and quite another to explain them verbally. Pretend you are the interviewer. Make a list of questions you would ask if you were trying to fill the job. Then try answering the questions as the candidate. This may sound corny, but you will be amazed at how polished your answers become the more you practice. Ask a friend to help if necessary.
- Cover the basics. Know how to get to the interview location and be on time. Plan to arrive 30 minutes before the interview in case of unexpected delays. If you are early, wait in the car or stop for coffee. Dress professionally even for casual work environments. Jeans may be allowed after you get the job, but don’t make the mistake of dressing too casually for the interview. You risk leaving the impression you are not serious about the job opportunity.
- Always be professional. The interview begins the minute you walk in the door. Small talk with the receptionist counts! Always remain courteous and professional. Keep small talk generic by avoiding sensitive topics on race, politics and religion.
Note: Interview questions with a focus on race, ethnicity, religion, physical disability, age, marital status, arrest record (versus convictions) and gender are illegal.
- Look for the right fit. Interviewing is a two-way street. Certainly you go to an interview to sell your skills and talents to a potential employer. But you are also evaluating the company for your own personal fit. If your instincts tell you that the company is not the right place for you, it probably isn’t. If you’ve asked questions, explored your concerns and still feel the job is not right for you, walk away and invest your time working on the next interview.
They say, “Success is where opportunity and preparation meet.” You landed the interview opportunity, now make sure you are prepared. Good luck!
Practice answering the following questions to build a foundation for describing your own skills and talents.
- What is your greatest career accomplishment? Why is this your greatest accomplishment and what skills did you use or develop?
- What was one of your toughest career challenges? How did you overcome this challenge?
- What are your strengths? How do you apply these strengths at work?
- What are your weaknesses? How do you manage around your weakness at work? What have you done to address these weaknesses?
- Why do you want to work for this company? In this role?
- How will you apply your skills and talents to this job? This is sometimes asked as, “Why should we hire you?”