Prepare for the interview and prepare for success.
An interview can lead to a job offer, especially if you're well prepared and leave nothing to chance. Being prepared increases your self-confidence, improves your performance and helps put you at ease. You have a lot to offer, so get in there, be enthusiastic and sell yourself! In addition to bringing extra copies of your resumé, contact information on at least three professional references, a list of questions about the company and the position, and pen and paper to the interview, you'll want to follow these tips:
- Arrive at the interview relaxed. If possible, do a dry run so you know how to get to your destination. Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early to complete an application or other paperwork.
- When you arrive, introduce yourself to the receptionist or the person greeting you. Always treat company personnel with respect. This is the first impression you'll make.
- Be neat and accurate when completing the application. Don't write "See Resumé" anywhere on the application.
Stand out among other candidates interviewing for the job by doing the following:
- Do a pre-interview check.
- Dress for success.
- Develop questions to ask during the interview.
- Develop answers to difficult interview questions that may be posed.
- Sell yourself.
- Evaluate information gathered in the interview.
- Follow up after the interview.
Do a Pre-Interview Check
Dress for Success
Even if the company has an informal dress code, you need to dress appropriately and conservatively for the interview. Men should wear dark suits and polished, businesslike shoes; women should wear skirts just above the knee and closed-toe shoes. Also, remove all visible body piercing (other than one set of earrings for women) and avoid wearing perfume or cologne.
Develop Questions to Ask During the Interview
An interview is a two-way process. You need to know as much about what the company has to offer as the interviewer needs to know about you. Ask pertinent questions - ones that will provide the information you need to thoroughly assess the job and the company.
Questions might include:
- What are the day-to-day responsibilities and major accountabilities of the position?
- Why is the position open?
- How would my performance be evaluated?
- To whom do I directly report?
- What are some challenges I might encounter in this position?
- What do you like most about the company?
- What are the company's plans for growth?
- What are some current issues and challenges facing the company?
- What is the typical career path for someone in this position?
- Is there a formal training program?
- How does the company encourage and support professional growth?
- What characteristics should a person possess to succeed in the company?
- How does this position interact or relate with others within the company?
Develop Answers to Difficult interview Questions That May Be Posed
While all interviews are different, it's important that you be able to answer questions interviewers often ask. The following examples provide a framework into which you can apply your specific background, interests and aptitudes.
Tell me about yourself.
Sum up your resumé in 15 seconds. You graduated with a degree in ___ and earned a graduate degree in ___. You're career-oriented and passionate about the ___ field. You have ___ hours of applications-based experience in the areas of ___ and ___. When asked to tell about yourself, present your portfolio (if you have one), explaining how it demonstrates the positive combination of education and skills needed for the position. Also, sell your soft skills - leadership, communication, organization and time management - and prove these skills through examples; don't merely offer an opinion of yourself.
Why should I hire you?
Approach this question as you would if asked to tell about yourself. It's basically the same question, just asked in a slightly different way. Reiterate your strengths, your interest in the job and the company, and why you'd fit well into the organization.
What are your strengths/weaknesses?
Before each interview, review your job-related work experience and soft skills. Prioritize, as best you can, the skills most applicable to the job for which you're interviewing. When discussing strengths, talk about your top two or three (i.e., you learn new procedures quickly, are eager to help implement new ideas, are passionate about the field). Be honest about your strengths.Spin a weakness into a positive. Offer an example of a skill you know is marketable to the job and explain steps you're taking to enhance your performance in this area. For example, in sales it's important to be both adept at listening and aggressive in closing the deal. Thus, mention your strength in closing deals and steps you're taking to improve your listening skills. Showing that you know listening skills are important and are taking action to improve will be viewed as positive.
In what ways can you contribute to this company?
This question provides an excellent opportunity to sell yourself (i.e., reiterate your strengths) and for the company research you did to pay off. Relate your strengths to the company's mission, which you should have found while researching. You might also discuss how you'd instantly become a team player dedicated to making positive contributions from day one.
How would your past employers describe you?
Once again, market your soft skills. "Hard working," "always on time," "responsible," "reliable." These are just some positive qualities employers seek. Remember, you've got to be able to prove these points.
Why did you choose this company; what do you know about us?
Research is key to effectively answering this question. Because there's no standard answer, be honest. Perhaps you like the company's industry, size, philosophy, position in the marketplace, etc. In doing your research, you'll arrive at a truthful answer to this question.
Why are you seeking new employment?
Perhaps the best answer to this question is that you're looking for a more challenging position, are ready to take on more responsibility and are seeking a position clearly aligned with your long-term career interests and goals.If you've already left your previous company and are still completing your education, simply say you wanted to focus on school but are now ready to move forward with your career. Never mention that you were fired or that you like change just for the sake of change. No employer wants to invest time and money training you if you plan to leave soon. Also, don't talk negatively about a past employer.
Prepare to Sell Yourself
When you meet the interviewer, smile, introduce yourself, use a firm handshake and maintain good eye contact. Follow these tips during the interview:
- Be prepared to discuss your three or four most marketable skills applicable to the position for which you're interviewing. These skills can come from your work history or your educational background. Prove all soft skills through examples; don't merely offer an opinion of yourself.
- If you're still earning your degree, market your education. "Currently pursuing a degree" is often viewed as a bonus, as the timeliness of information you're learning can be very valuable to the company.
- Talk about DeVry's unique practitioner approach or the co-op/internship opportunity you've had.
- Make sure you're comfortable speaking to every point on your resumé.
- Anticipate questions. A question you think you'll be asked will probably come your way.
- Use proper grammar and diction. Avoid saying "yeah," "um," "like," "see," "uh," or "ah"
- Speak clearly. Be aware of your body language and project confidence. Be positive about yourself and what you've accomplished.
- Ask questions throughout the interview. If at some point you're not sure what the interviewer is asking, ask for clarification. This demonstrates you're interested and have good listening skills.
- If asked to describe a failure, weakness or negative experience, finish your response on a positive note by mentioning a lesson learned, growth achieved or how you're currently working to improve.
- When interviewing with more than one person at once, address your answer to the person who asks the question. However, be sure to maintain good eye contact with everyone during the interview.
- Never ask about compensation in the first interview. However, if the interviewer addresses salary, answer the question directly.
- Always go for the job offer. If negatives of the job surface, such as too much travel, make a mental note for evaluation purposes, but continue one hundred percent in the interview. There may be positive aspects of the job that balance or outweigh the negatives. It's better to be in a position of rejecting the offer than not receiving it at all.
Evaluate Information Gathered in the Interview
While the interview is fresh in your mind, jot down your answers to such questions as:
- Will I be developing as a professional?
- Do the organization's philosophies and values match mine?
- Are there opportunities to advance within the company?
- Would I like the daily responsibilities of the job?
- Are the expectations for the position realistic?
- Could I work well with my manager and learn from him or her?
- How will the demands of the job (hours, required travel) affect my family/lifestyle?
Follow Up After the Interview
Thank You Note: Very soon after the interview, it's critical that you send a brief note to everyone with whom you spoke, thanking them for their time and reiterating your interest in the job and the company. The thank you note is not a vehicle by which to remarket yourself, but rather an opportunity to further your relationship with a potential hiring manager by reinforcing your understanding of the position and your ability to excel in the role. This letter also allows you to demonstrate your communication and relationship-building skills. Snail mail or email: which medium is best for sending thank you letters? Either is fine. Use your best judgment as to which method your interviewers might prefer and which method best fits the corporate culture.
References: Be sure to call your references and inform them of a possible contact from the company. Tell your references the attributes the company is seeking, and ask that they try and reinforce your strengths in those areas.
Executive Recruiters: If you've used an executive recruiter, call him or her to obtain feedback on the company's reaction to you. However, never tell a headhunter if you've sought employment at a company without using his or her services. Independent recruiters work for themselves, not for you, and are compensated based on placements made. By letting recruiters know of an open position in the marketplace, you've encouraged them to refer other candidates to the position, thus increasing your competition.
The Job Offer: If a company extends a job offer, accept or reject it within 48 hours. Asking for more than this reasonable period of time may encourage the company to continue interviewing other candidates, which could possibly lead the company to withdraw its offer to you. Nothing is official until you formally accept the job. Therefore, begin evaluating the job and the company the minute you begin the interview process. Don't wait until an offer is presented.