Equal Employment Opportunity Organization (EEOO)
Interview Information & Tips
The personal interview not only gives your potential employer an opportunity to evaluate you in depth and you a chance to sell yourself, but it also gives you the opportunity to learn much more about the employer and the company. It is important to be able to demonstrate your abilities to the interviewer and to show him/her that you are an asset. By knowing what is expected of you and by undertaking a few simple preparations, you can make a more favorable impression and minimize any nervousness you may feel.
This may sound funny, but researching yourself is an important part of any interview. Appearing confident and assured is crucial and the only way to do this is to really know yourself.
Examining your interests, abilities, education, experience, values and your goals is the best way to prepare for the job interview. Self assessment is the best way to know your strengths and weaknesses as well as being the best way to find out how you can directly help the company or employer. Many of the most difficult interview questions can be answered with a strong understanding of who you are, what your goals are, and where your strengths and weaknesses lie.
If you have already gone through the career assessment in this web-site then you are ahead of the game. If not, feel free to go back and start it. One of the most important aspects of the interview is providing proof of your assertions. Be prepared to discuss concrete examples of things you have done in the past, whether on the job or in school. Impressing a perspective employer takes time and research.
Employers look for those who show an interest and an understanding of their business. It is imperative that you become knowledgeable about the company to which you are applying. Researching the company meets two needs. First it allows you to evaluate whether or not you want to work there. A company often sounds promising but after researching it you might find out that it is not a good fit with your interests and professional goals.
Secondly, researching a company helps you impress the interviewer. The interview process is your chance to sell yourself. Knowing as much about the company as possible shows that you are interested in the position and will be devoted to the company.
This step is a little less important than the other two, but nonetheless needs to be addressed. It maybe difficult to come by this information so keep your eyes and ears out. The best way to find this kind of information is to interview your contact.
The age old adage, "practice makes perfect," applies here. Practicing interviewing helps you to feel more familiar and thus more comfortable and natural with the process. Try getting friends or family to help you out. They can often be a good source, since they know you the best.
The second way to practice is to interview at companies that may not be high on your list of ideal places to work. Set up an interview and see how you do. After the interview reflect on what you did well and what you did poorly and use this knowledge to improve your next interview. If you get turned down after an interview, call the employer and inquire about what your weaknesses were. This will provide you the opportunity to work on the aspects on which you may not have been focusing.
Another way to practice is by rehearsing your answers. Write them down. You can often form a clear picture in your head of what works by writing it down and rehearsing it. Practicing is made to make you more comfortable.
Here are some common questions that you should be prepared to answer in your interview.
1. Please tell me about yourself?
2. Why should this company hire you?
3. What are your future plans?
4. What do expect to get from this job?
5. What are your weaknesses?
6. What are your strengths?
7. Why did you leave your last job?
8. What would your former employer say about you?
9. Why did you choose this career?
10. Why did you choose this company?
The interview is a two way street. Remember you are also interviewing the employer to see if you want to work for that company. You should have a list of questions in mind to ask the interviewer. Below are some suggestions.
1. What would some of my responsibilities be?
2. How would my performance be evaluated?
3. Is there room for promotion?
4. Would there be any travel involved with this position?
5. Where do you see this company in two years?
6. Describe your management style?
7. How do you see me fitting into this company?
Unfortunately, illegal question continue to arise in job interviews, even for government work. Sexism, in particular, is still a problem in many job interviewers. While equal employment legislation makes it illegal to ask certain questions during an interview, some interviewers ask them anyway. If you are prepared, you can fend them off effectively and still score points with the interviewer. If the questions don't get asked, you've got no problem. If an interviewer spouts one of these illegal questions, don't scream "That question is illegal!" You may be right, but this sort of reaction does not display any tact on your part, which may be what the interviewer is testing, albeit tactlessly. The authors of Interview for Success suggest that one type of response is humor. Try to decide how you will handle illegal or inappropriate questions before you go to an interview. With a little preparation, you can turn a negative into a positive when such questions are posed. Your answers to such questions could turn out to be your strongest and most effective of the whole interview.
You have now reached the stage of the actual interview. You should feel confident in yourself and your abilities by now, so it is time to sell yourself to a perspective employer. These next sections will go over what you need to know and how you need to act during the actual interview. Remember that first impressions are the most important.
Yes, despite how we may want it to be, clothes do make the man or woman. This is an easy and important aspect of the interview. The very first impression an interviewer has of you is by looking at you, so you should take advantage of that by influencing the interviewer by the clothes you wear. Here are some clothing dos and don'ts.
What WOMEN should and should not wear to a job interview
What MEN should and should not wear to a job interview
You can never go wrong with clothing if you dress up and dress conservatively. If your appearance gives the interviewer a good first impression and that is what puts you over the edge then it is worth spending the extra time to make sure you look good.
How you act during an interview is as important if not more important than what you say. Interviewers have heard the same canned phrases over and over, so they look for subtle things to help them make decisions on whom to hire. Here are some important things to do and things you should never do at an interview.
ALWAYS . . .
- Show up on time. Arrive early so that you have time to compose yourself before the interview begins.
- Have a warm friendly smile.
- Greet the Interviewer with a firm handshake. A firm handshake exudes confidence and control.
- Maintain good poise and posture. Sit up straight and even lean in when appropriate. Your body language should show that you are interested and confident.
- Maintain eye contact. Again this demonstrates you are a good listener and are interested in the interview.
- Tell the truth. Honesty is the best policy. Do not set yourself up for future problems.
NEVER . . .
- Make an interviewer wait. Being late to an interview can cost you the job.
- Act as if you don't want to be at the interview. The interviewers are using their valuable time to interview you, so show you appreciate their effort.
- Shy away from the interviewer. If you carry yourself with confidence, the interviewer will respond in kind.
- Slouch or fidget during an interview. Don't lean on your elbows or hand rests, and don't play with anything. Keep your hands on your lap unless you are gesturing during speaking.
- Let your eyes or mind wonder. Demonstrate that you are a listener. Don't stare at the floor or ceiling.
- Exaggerate or lie. You can trap yourself by telling your interviewer something that is not true.
An interview usually lasts less than an hour. Be conscious of this, but do not look at your watch. Let the interviewer initiate the close of the interview. Try and watch for signals that the interview may be wrapping up so you can be sure and finish up strong. Never openly act relieved or dejected after an interview. Even if you felt the interview didn't go well it is best to act with confidence because you never know what the interviewer is thinking. Your last impression is second in importance only to your first impression as a means of influencing the interview.
After the interview try and objectively review how it went in your head. Ask yourself these questions. How could you have done better? What do you think you handled well? What do you think you didn't handle well? Was there anything that surprised you about the interview? It is very important that you use each interview you attend as a building block towards further improving your interview skills. The more interviewing experience you have the better you will be. You will learn from your mistakes only if you review the interview and make a conscious effort not to repeat them in the future.
One easy way to learn from interviews is to call back an interviewer after an interview and ask them about your strengths and weaknesses. Most of them are happy to give you feedback on your performance. They will be able to explain to you why they did not think you were suitable. Use their comments in a constructive manner.
The very first thing you should do when you get home is to write a thank you note. This is the most effective way to influence an interviewer in addition to maintaining a strong network of employment connections.