How to Ace your Interview and Land the Job
: step-by-step guide to phone, web, or in-person interviews
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1. Research the Company
It is imperative that you research the employer prior to your interview. The interviewer will expect that you know about the company and be able to describe some basic information about their business.
You will want to know basic information such as:
- Business goals and mission
- Community involvement
- Locations – local, statewide, national etc.
- Notable accomplishments of the organization
- Primary product or service
- Chief competitors
- Size of the organization, number of employees
2. First Impressions – Dress for Interview
First impressions matter, whether meeting someone at a social event or interviewing for a job as well as when you start a career. You should look your best when you go to a job interview. Dress one step above the dress required for the job. You only get one chance to make a first impression, so make it a good one.
To help you decide what to wear to an interview, visit the company and notice what people are wearing. Make sure your interview clothes are appropriate for the job you are applying for and for the location of the interview.
The moment an individual sees you, he or she evaluates your:
- Grooming habits
Keep in mind that appropriate dressing and grooming are critical to making a good first impression. These guidelines will help you make a good first impression in the interview but also during networking and after you are hired.
3. Employment Tests: Whether or not you will take an employment test depends on the company and type of job. The type of employment test also depends on these same factors. Types of employment tests include:
- Key Board
- Work Samples
- Reference checks
- Background checks/criminal history
- Drug screens
- Financial or credit checks
- Educational credentials
- Social media check
4. Best Practices to Remember During Any Interview
1. Be positive
2. Show enthusiasm
3. Keep topics business related and professional
4. Listen more than you talk
5. Do not interrupt
6. Be humble but confident
7. Be aware of verbal and nonverbal interaction
8. Link skills and accomplishments to position
9. Practice answers
10. Emphasize you want the job
5. About the Interview Process
Companies use various methods to conduct interviews. A brief description of common interviewing methods is below:
- Panel or Committee
- Meal Interview
- Phone Interview
- Video/Teleconference Interviews
Most interviews break into four stages. The more you understand each stage, and what is expected of you, the better your chances of being selected.
- Introductory Stage/Build Rapport
- First impression
- Personable introduction
- Enthusiasm, confidence, respect
6. Answering the Questions
- Be brief, but thorough
- Use examples
- Think before you speak. Pauses are okay.
- Explain how you will do a good job.
Traditional Interview Questions
- What do you know about our company?
- Where do you see yourself in five or ten years?
- What motivates you to do a good job?
- What is your greatest strength?
- What is your biggest challenge?
- Describe yourself, or tell me about yourself.
- Why did you decide to interview for this position?
- Why should I hire you?
- Are you a team player?
- What do you know about our organization?
Behavioral Interview Questions
These questions request descriptions about how candidates have behaved in a past situation.
- What is an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it?
- Can you describe a decision you made that was unpopular and how you handled implementing it?
- Have you had to convince a team to work on a project that members did not want to do? How did you handle it?
- How have you handled a conflict situation with a co-worker?
Answering Behavioral Questions using STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result)
The STAR method ensures that you provide an example and that it tells like a cohesive story without getting too caught up in the details while ensuring you don't skip the important pieces that relate to how you are going to be a great fit in this job! TIP: Even if the interviewer doesn't directly ask for an example, provide one! This helps them connect the dots between your skills and theories and how you ACT and respond to these situations.
Situation/Task- What was the situation or task? General overview to give context
Action- What action steps did you take? (Be specific)
Result- What happened as a result of your actions?
**Bonus: How does it relate back to the position you're interviewing for?
1. Tell me about yourself. (Be logical. Be positive. Relate what you say about yourself to the job. Show some of your personality. A nice way to reframe this in your mind is "Tell me about yourself as you relate to this position." It can be useful to take a past, present, future approach. What have you done that has helped you develop the skills and qualifications to get to where you are now? What are your goals in applying for this position? How do you see your past skills and experiences leading you into your future career here? Don't feel like you have to tell ALL of your examples and experiences right now, just the highlights- this is just your quick-guide to YOU to draw them in.)
2. What do you consider your most significant accomplishment? (This can get you the job. Tell a two minute story and describe an accomplishment that was truly worth achieving. Include hard work, deadlines, overcoming obstacles and important issues.)
3. Why do you believe you are qualified for this position? (Pick two or three main factors about the job and about you that are most relevant. Select a technical skill, a specific management skill (organizing, staffing, planning) and a personal success story.)
4. Have you ever accomplished something you did not think you could? (Show you are goal orientated, have a strong work ethic, personal commitment and integrity. Provide a good example where you overcame numerous difficulties to succeed.)
5. How do you handle pressure? Do you like or dislike these situations? (High achievers tend to perform well in high pressure situations. Conversely, this question also could imply that the position is pressure packed. If you perform well under stress, provide a good example with details, giving an overview of the stress situation.)
6. Good employees take the initiative and get the job done. Can you describe yourself in terms of this statement? (A proactive, results-oriented person does not need constant supervision. Describe a situation in which you were self-motivated. Try to discuss at least one example.)
7. What do you consider your most significant strengths? (Know four or five key strengths. Be able to discuss each with a specific example. Select those attributes that are most compatible with the job opening.)
8. What do you consider your most significant challenge? (Show by specific example how a weakness can be a learning opportunity. Balance any negative with a positive statement identifying how you are overcoming this weakness.)
- What goals have you set recently?
- Where do you expect to be in five years?
- How do you spend your spare time?
- Do you prefer working with others or by yourself?
- What kind of boss do you prefer?
- Can you take criticism or feedback without getting upset?
Turning the Tables: "Do You Have any Questions for Us?"
- What are the greatest challenges of this position?
- Would you describe what a typical day on the job consists of?
- Are there any questions that I did not adequately respond to?
- Who will I report to?
- What training do you provide?
- What other positions would I interface with in the job?
- How would you describe the work environment?
- Do your employees work individually or as a team?
- What further education or training does the company consider important?
- Is this a newly created position or has it existed for some time?
- What are the department’s goals for the year?
7. Closing The Interview
If you are sure you want the job, make your intentions clear at this time. This is also the point where, normally, you are informed that the interviewer appreciated you coming in and outlines what happens next. If the interviewer does not offer this information it is appropriate for you to ask:
- What are the next steps?
- Is it okay if I follow up on the position next week?
- When do you plan to fill the position?
Usually the hiring authorities for the position will confer before anyone is offered a job. So, do not expect a decision to be made about the position immediately.
Gracious exit: You thank the interviewer for his or her time. On your way out, say good- bye to anyone you see who may have helped you. Smile and be pleasant.
8. Follow-Up after the Interview
Write a thank you letter soon after the interview, the same day is best. You can hand write this letter. It is a good way to add anything you forgot, or wish you had said in the interview. You can reinforce important information you provided in the interview, state your interest in the job, and/or can let the employer know you appreciate their time. Two sample thank you letters you can use as models follow:
If you didn’t receive a job offer, or an offer for continuing in the interviewing process, it is appropriate to analyze why you didn’t get the job.
1. What you did (arrive early or late, spoke to the administrative assistant, etc.)
2. How you answered questions
3. How you contrasted or blended with the culture (clothing choice, mannerisms, word choice, etc.)
4. What additional questions you had about the business
5. How you feel about your performance, the company, the interviewer?
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