Match your skills to the job
To help ensure a successful interview, you should know in advance how well you qualify for the job. One way to get this information is to request a written job description. For each requirement listed in the description, write down your qualifications—this may show that you lack a particular skill. Plan how you will address this in the interview. You want to be able to convince the employer that you can learn the skill. For example, you lack skill in programming in C++ language. Knowing when and where you can enroll in a C++ course in your community may convince the employer that you’re the right person to hire.
Plan what you are going to say
One of the most important things that you can do to prepare is to plan what you going to say. Try to have some stories about your work experience that illustrate your skills, experience, and education. These stories should relate to the skills that the employer is seeking, while emphasizing your:
• Leadership skills
• Ability to learn new things
• Contributions to the organizations in which you have worked or volunteered
• Creativity in solving problems and working with people
• Another tip for preparing is to make a list of questions that you would like to ask during the interview. Pick questions that will demonstrate your interest in the job and the company and that illustrate your knowledge of the job.
• Create a checklist
• Don’t forget the basics. Plan a “things to do” list:
• Go to bed early and get plenty of sleep.
• Plan to dress in a manner appropriate to the job for which you are interviewing.
• Plan your schedule and route so that you arrive 10 to 15 minutes before your appointment.
• Bring extra copies of your resumes.
• Gather together your letter(s) of recommendation, reference list, copies of licenses, driving record, transcripts, etc.
• Make sure that your portfolio of work samples is up to date.
• Tips for the interview
Because interviews are such a critical part of your job search, you want to get the most out of each one. The following Do’s and Don’ts are presented to help ensure that your interview is a success.
• Your behavior and how you communicate
• The attitudes that you express
• How to end the interview
• Following up after the interview
• Why people don’t get hired
• The “Do’s” – Your behavior and how you communicate
• Display confidence through your posture, dress, walk, energy, and eye contact.
• Shake hands firmly but only if a hand is offered to you first.
• Let the interviewer start the dialogue.
• Listen carefully.
• Welcome all questions, even the difficult ones, with a smile.
• Develop answers in your head before you respond. If you don’t understand a question, ask for it to be repeated or clarified. You don’t have to rush, but you don’t want to appear indecisive.
• Give honest, direct answers.
The attitudes that you express in answering and asking questions, you want to demonstrate that you are:
Willing to work. Give examples of your productivity on past jobs.
Committed to learning. Demonstrate this through examples of learning experiences (independent study, professional development, education, workshops, etc.). Your plan for future development also communicates your commitment to learning.
Flexible. Talk about how well you work with others and how you can adjust and fit into a new environment without complaints or special requests.
Willing to contribute. Emphasize what you can do for the company.
The “Do’s” – How to end the interview
A professional positive end to the interview is another way to ensure your success. Now is the time to remind the employer of why you are qualified for the job.
• Restate any strengths and experiences that you might not have emphasized earlier.
• Mention a particular accomplishment or activity that fits the job.
The end of the interview is also the time to let the employer know if you are interested in the job
• If you want the job, say so!
• Ask when the position will be filled.
• Find out if there will be additional interviews and when the employer plans to make a decision.
• Indicate a time when you may contact the employer to learn of the decision.
Finally, be courteous and end the interview on time.
The “Do’s” – Following up after the interview
The steps that you take after the interview are important too. For example, take time to:
Evaluate the interview. What went well in the interview? How can you improve?
Record your follow-up plans. Write the date and time for your next contact with the employer so you do not forget to follow through.
Send thank-you letters or notes to each person with whom you interviewed.
The “Dont’s” – Why people don’t get hired
There are many reasons why people fail to get hired:
• Poor personal appearance
• Application form or resume is incomplete or sloppy
• Overly aggressive behavior
• Lack of tact and courtesy
• Lack of maturity
• Lack of interest and enthusiasm
• Nervousness or lack of confidence and poise
• Failure to ask questions about the job
• Responding vaguely to questions
• No eye contact with the interviewer
• No genuine interest in the company or job
• Lack of planning for career; no purpose and no goals
• Over-emphasis on money
• Unwillingness to start at the bottom
• Negative attitude about past employers
• No sense of humor
• Arriving late for the interview
• Failure to express appreciation for interviewer’s time