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Interview Tips


Preparation For the Interview

Preparation is the first essential step toward a successful interview.  Company interviewers are continually amazed at the number of applicants who come with no preparation and only the vaguest idea of what they are going to say.  In order to be prepared for an interview, it is important to:

1) Know the exact place and time for the interview; the interviewer's full name and the correct pronunciation; his or her title; and the telephone number where they can be reached.
2) Find out specific facts about the company from the website, or from researching the company on the Internet or library reference materials.
3) Prepare the questions you will ask during the interview.
Remember that an interview is a two-way street.  The employer will try to determine through questioning if you have the qualifications necessary to do the job.  You must determine through your questioning whether the company will give you the opportunity for the growth and development you seek.  Asking questions indicates to the interviewer that you are interested in the company and the job.

4) Well-groomed appearance is in order for any interview, even if you know the company atmosphere to be a casual one.  Dress in conservative business attire - not sport clothes or leisure/pants suits.  For men:  a white or soft pastel shirt, conservative tie, dark socks, well-shined shoes, and a professional haircut.  For women:  a tailored suit or dress, stockings with appropriate shoes, a minimum of jewelry and makeup.  Your own personal preference may not be the best guide.
The Interview

Remember that you are being interviewed because the interviewer wants to hire someone not because he wants to trip you up or embarrass you.  Through the interaction which will take place during the interview, he will be searching out your strong and weak points; evaluating you and your qualifications, your skills and intellectual qualities; and he will probably probe deeply to determine your attitudes, aptitudes, stability, motivation and maturity.
Some "Do's" and "Don'ts" Concerning the Interview:
1) Plan to arrive a few minutes early.  Late arrival for a job interview is never excusable.  In an emergency, call the interviewer as soon as possible.

2) If presented with an application, fill out neatly and completely.  Limit details so you can finish in about 20 minutes.

3) Greet the interviewer by his surname if you are sure of the pronunciation.  If you are not sure, ask him to repeat his name.

4) Firm handshake, don't be over bearing of feeble handed.

5) 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, and be enthusiastic!  People hire those that want the job.

6) Don't smoke even if the interviewer smokes and offers you a cigarette.
7) Don't chew gum. 

8) Do look a prospective employer in the eye while you talk to him.  Don't look around the room, out the window, or at the floor. You want to show your interest in the position.

9) Do follow the interviewer's leads, 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 in the position. Make sure to ask your questions concerning the job.

10) Don't answer questions with a simple "yes" or "no".  Explain whenever possible without becoming too wordy.  Tell those things about yourself which relate to the situation. If you do not have the experience that your interviewer is asking about, try to relate it to what you have done.

11) Make sure that your good points get across to the interviewer in a factual, sincere manner.  Keep in mind that you alone can sell yourself to an interviewer.  Make him recognize the need to have you in his organization.

12) Be prepared to answer typical questions like:  What kind of job are you looking for?  What are your strengths and your weaknesses?  (When sharing a weakness or strength, show how you have solved problems that occurred and grew from the experience)  What do you know about our company?  Why did you choose your particular vocation?  What are your qualifications?

13) Don't lie.  Answer questions truthfully, frankly, and as much to the point as possible.

14) Don't take anyone else with you to your interview.

15) Don't rush your interview, and don't ramble on with non-pertinent chatter.  In general, the longer the interview, the more promising for you. You want to show interest in the job but you do not need to volunteer information that does not relate to your job.

16) Never make derogatory remarks about your present or former employers or companies.

17) Don't "over answer" questions.  The interviewer may steer the conversation into politics or economics.  Since this can be a ticklish situation, it is best to answer questions honestly; trying not to say more than is necessary.  Stay away from opinions, talk in terms of strengths and weaknesses.

18) Don't inquire first about SALARY, VACATIONS, BONUSES, RETIREMENT, etc., on the initial interview unless they bring it up first or you are positive the employer is interested in hiring you.  Here are some examples to answering the salary question: If the interviewer asks what salary you want, indicate that you are more interested in opportunity than a specific salary; If they want to know your salary start with the facts; last year my W2 was___, or this year I expect to W2___; or you can say, "I am sure you will offer me what you feel I am worth to your company�, or " I hope that means you are serious about considering me as a candidate�, or �If I�m the candidate I would expect your most competitive offer�, but try to give them a range and not a specific money answer (you could be leaving money on the table as they may offer you more than the exact figure you give them). 

You can tell them that you need to make a certain amount and if applicable, what your estimated moving costs are, if you feel that you must have a certain amount and feel that you must be specific. Remember though that once you have an offer you can negotiate, and only you can decide by the interview what you feel is the best way to answer.

19) Always conduct yourself as if you are determined to get the job you are discussing.  Never close  the door on opportunity. 
Some Questions To Ask:
* What is important to you in hiring a person for this position?
* What areas do you need help with?
*What is the growth potential in this position?
*Is there any reason that you would not pursue me for this position and what areas in my background *Would you like to discuss for clarification on my experience?
Closing the Interview
1) If you are interested in the position, ask for it.  Ask for the next interview if the situation  demands.  If the position is offered to you and you want it, accept it on the spot.  If you want some time to think about your decision, be courteous and tactful in asking for that time.  Set a definite date as to when you will be able to provide an answer.  This normally should not exceed 48 hours.
2) Don't be too discouraged if no definite offer is made or specific salary is discussed.  The interviewer will probably want to communicate with his office first, or interview more candidates, or discuss the offer with your recruiter before making a decision.
3) 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 awhile an interviewer who is genuinely interested in your possibilities may seem to discourage you in order to test your reaction.
4) Thank the interviewer for his time and his consideration of you.  If you have answered the two questions uppermost in his mind, i.e., why are you interested in this company?  And what can you offer?  You have done all you can.
5) Call your recruiter after the interview. 
Negative Factors Evaluated by an Interviewer
During the course of an interview, the employer will be evaluating your negative factors as well as your positive factors.  Listed below are 16 negative factors frequently evaluated during the course of an interview, those which most often lead to rejection of the applicant.

1) Poor personal appearance.
2) Overbearing - overaggressive - conceited - "superiority complex" - "know-it-all".
3) Inability to express thoughts clearly - lack of purpose - poor diction or grammar.
4) Lack of planning for career - no positive purpose or goals.  Make sure the job you are interviewing for is a logical step toward your goal.  Do not mention any other goals or dreams.
5) Lack of interest and enthusiasm - passive and indifferent.
6) Lack of confidence and poise - nervousness.
7) Overemphasis on money - interested only in the best dollar offer.
8) Evasive - makes excuses for unfavorable factors in record.
9) Lack of tact - maturity - courtesy.
10) Condemnation of past employers.
11) Failure to look interviewer in the eye.
2) Limp, fishy handshake - Your hand should mold to the interviewers hand (not too hard or soft).
13) Lack of appreciation of the value of experience.
14) Failure to ask questions about the job.
15) Persistent attitude of "What you can do for me".
16) Lack of preparation for interview - Failure to get information about the company, resulting in the inability to ask intelligent questions.
Final Questions:

* Based on this time that we have spent together and my skill set, do I have what you need to successfully do the job you are trying to fill?
*   I am excited about this and I like what I see.  What can I do to help move the process along so we can finalize this?

Be Prepared to Answer Questions Like:

*   TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF? (prepare to talk about the highlights of your work experience).     
*   Why would you like to work for our company?
*   What do you see yourself doing five years from now?
*   What job in our company do you want to work toward?
*   What do you know about our company?
*  What interests you about this position?
*  What do you think determines a person's progress in a good company? 
*  What qualities should a successful manager possess?
*   Describe the relationship that should exist between a supervisor and those reporting to him or her?
*   How do you determine or evaluate success?
*   What do you consider to be your greatest strengths?
*  What is your major weakness?
*  How do you think a friend who knows you well would describe you?
*  What have you learned from some of the jobs you have held?
*  What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction? Why?
*  What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort?
*  What have you done which shows your initiative and willingness to work?
*  In what kind of work environment are you most comfortable and how do you work under pressure? 
*   What two or three things are most important to you in your job?
*   What have you learned from your mistakes?
*   Can you get recommendations from previous employers?
*   How do you spend your spare time?  

Additional Questions To Ask Your Future Employer (General)

*   Tell me why you are so enthusiastic about this company and why you came to work here?
*   What are some things you would like to see me accomplish in my first year?
*   How is the facility expected to grow?
*   What are future objectives and goals of the company?
*   Why will the company be successful?
*   What risks are there?