How To Prepare For A Successful Job Interview
You have successfully passed initial job screening and have landed an interview. You have a right to be elated over the prospect because in this high-tech world, getting an actual face-to-face interview is rare indeed. Now that you have been selected, it is important to know how to prepare for the interview to ensure that it interview goes well.
Study to become familiar with the job specifications and company materials. Prepare well in advance for not only the initial interview, but also for subsequent interviews. Visualize yourself actually in the job interview. Jot down what you think the interviewer will ask and any areas of focus. Put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes and think about what you would ask a prospective candidate.
Make a positive impression. Your outward appearance as well as how you handle the interview give-and-take will tell the hiring manager a lot about you. Research indicates that interviewers tend to make decisions about candidates in the first 15 seconds. Therefore, it is important to create a positive impact from the moment you arrive, throughout the interview and until you leave the premises. Smile, look alert and greet people when you meet them. Smiling acts as an ice-breaker and a greeting extends courtesy. Eye indicates interest. Relax and be yourself. Avoid phoniness.
Share your experiences in a balanced way — articulating your strengths as well as your weaknesses. Use specific situations to explain what you learned and how you were successful in accomplishing a task, project or assignment. The interviewer will form certain impressions about you based on your interaction. Watch your body language and that of the interviewer. More than 90 percent of communication is nonverbal, and it can make or break an interview. Practice active listening with all of your senses — not just your ears. Use paraphrasing or questions to indicate that you hear what the interviewer is saying.
Be professional at all times, but not too formal. Shake hands with the interviewer at the beginning of the interview and when it ends. Under no circumstances should you tell jokes or use phrases that may be offensive. Extend common courtesy where appropriate, display empathy, confidence and helpfulness. Be honest and truthful.
Expect the unexpected. An interview offers an opportunity for the prospective employer to test your demeanor, attitude and behavior under pressure. Depending on the position you seek and the competencies required to successfully perform the position, you may be asked to respond to certain real life on-the-job scenarios designed to see how you function under pressure. Be prepared for the dreaded, “Tell me about yourself.” Prepare a crisp, concise answer.
Ask questions. Come prepared with the questions you would like to have answered. The purpose of your questions is two-fold: to gain insight into the hiring manager’s perception of the company’s culture and to determine if you could work for this person if hired.
Follow up to put the seal on your credibility and image. Write a follow-up thank you email and/or letter to inquire about your status. A well-timed and well-crafted note can do wonders for your candidacy, and it’s the courteous thing to do. Stress your continued interest in the position; your appreciation for the interviewer’s time; and why you believe you are a good match for the position.
Selecting the right candidate for a job takes time. Be patient and work within the employer’s processes and time frame. While waiting, read as much as you can about the prospective employer and the industry. Continue your networking efforts and engage in activities that support and encourage.
While it is appropriate to follow up after sending a resume or having completed an interview, be careful to balance the amount and frequency of your efforts. Too little follow-up may indicate a lack of interest or that you are shopping around for the best offer. Too much follow-up may come across as obnoxious, too anxious, desperate or just downright rude.