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The Interview Process

Interviews are an integral part of the job-seeking process. There is no way to get a job without taking an interview. Interviews serve two specific purposes. First, it allows the potential employer to decide whether you are qualified to take the job for which, judging only by your resume, they have decided you might qualify. Secondly, it allows you the opportunity to learn more about the position and the company and its culture, beyond what you may know from a job posting, advertisement or what you can glean from a web page. Do you feel you are qualified? Fine. Self-confidence is an asset. But a professional with your experience may be only one of several things for which an interviewer is looking. How about someone personable, someone willing to take risks to procure results, someone interested in moving up in the company? These are questions you may have to answer, not just with words but in how you act and react to the whole process. Your resume landed you an interview. Selling yourself to the interviewer is the next step in the process.

Preparing for and going to the interview.

1. Don't be nervous.

Because of your resume the interviewer is predisposed to believe you might be qualified. You really have no reason to be nervous. (Look at it this way. If you really blow it, you are no worse off than when you went in.) Remember that the interviewer is usually no more comfortable with the situation of an interview than you are. So relax and be yourself.

2. Be prepared.

Arrive at the interview with a good idea of what is going to be asked. Here are some standard questions you should be prepared to answer.

Why are you interested in this job?

What qualifications do you have that make you suited to this job?

Why are you leaving your current job?

What do you know about our company?

What significant accomplishments will you contribute if you are hired?

Managers: Have you ever fired anyone?

Managers: How many people did you have working for you?

Managers: Do you know how to cut costs?

Techs or engineers: What equipment do you know how to use?

Accountants: What types of accounting have you done?

All of these will probably be asked. The bottom five questions are career-related questions and there will be different ones depending on your field or discipline. They should all be obvious.

Here are some questions you should be prepared for that may or may not be asked:

Have you ever been to Spain?

Do you like movies with Dom DeLuise?

If you live in a glass house, is it hard to hide from door-to-door salesmen?

Ever walk into a blood drive singing All of Me?

Sound silly? Here's the point. You should know the answers to the first set of questions, but you should be ready for every question that comes your way. Even if you weren't expecting a particular question, answer as if you were. Maybe that's the point of the question.

3. Be cool.

Becoming flustered will not get you the job. Answering questions clearly and concisely always appears better for proving your communication skills. A common issue regarding interviews is eye contact. There are two elements of eye contact that are uncool: too little and too much. Too little suggests uneasiness. Too much is unnatural and uncomfortable for the interviewer. So don't overdo it. Additionally, avoid using the interviewer's name over and over. It's annoying, and it sounds as if you are trying much too hard to impress.

4. Be personable.

If you are uneasy it lessens your chance for the job. Playing the know-it-all is equally unwise. A poor communicator won't get the job. Easygoing and easy to be around are two good character traits at any job. Remember this important fact about job interviews: use your time to prove what you know and what you have accomplished. The interview is also seen as indicative of what you will be like all the time. So maintain a positive attitude not only with the person who interviews you but with all the people you encounter. The person who works the front desk likely will discuss with the interviewer what you were like when you arrived. What you do in your interview is seen as what you will do all the time. Is this fair? Probably not. But then life is unfair, and so is the interview process.

5. Be early.

Tardiness creates a poor image. Take the prospective employer's phone number so you can call if you become lost. Take your cell phone with you if you have one. Remember to turn it off during the interview or leave it in your car. Even better, make a dry run to the place of interview so that you know where you are going.

6. Be interested.

You will be asked if the company and the position interest you. You will, of course, say yes, but during the interview you must do things that will not only prove your interest but are to your benefit. Whoever said only that they were interviewing you omitted that YOU ARE ALSO INTERVIEWING THEM! You have many questions for them, and the answers reveal whether they will meet your expectations. Notice whether they have the answers you're looking for; notice whether they speak ill about the company. Interviews are good barometers for whether the company has been good to its employees. Ask about the company, the department, the position, the profession of the person interviewing you. Do not leave the interview with unanswered questions about the job, the next time you talk with them you might not have time to ask. Additionally, the interviewer is likely interested in whether you have the insight to ask questions. Be clear about everything before you leave (except salary -- see below). Be certain your questions show insight about your experience in the business. If you are a switchboard operator, ask about what kind of switchboard it is and how it operates. If you are applying for the marketing department, ask about the budget for advertising. If you are entering the sales department, ask for the sales figures for the previous quarter. No matter what position you seek, ask about the company's position in the industry. If the company sells electro communications equipment, ask how they stack up against their competition. Name the competition by name. Prove that you are interested and that you are familiar with the prospective employer.

7. Be prepared, part two.

Bring a pen and paper. Bring another copy of your resume with references and any other significant job-related information. Bring information about the company (look them up on the web!) to show that you did some homework. Dress appropriately. If it's formal, dress formally; if it's casual, dress casually. How do you know how to dress? It should be relatively obvious If it isn't, ask beforehand. Most interviews are not business casual. If you are uncertain, proper business attire is always correct. If you have dressed professionally and the interviewer is dressed down, don't despair -- feel that you are dressed appropriately and THEY are not.

Here are additional tips on proper dress. Remember to look at your shoes, are they polished and appropriate for the attire you are wearing? You must not only dress properly, of course, but you also must radiate a very specific look. A job interview is not the time to try odd color experiments. Business colors are usually dark. Go with them. You have a nice outfit, but is it ill-fitting? Are you attempting to wear a size 10 suit when you are truly a size 12? You must not wear simply the appropriate thing, but also appear appropriate. You prove professionalism with all of these elements. Look good, look prepared, look interested, and you will come across as professional. That's important for every job.

What to do after the interview.

8. Write down what happened.

Remember what went wrong and what went right. If there is something you wish you had gone over, maybe next time you speak, you can add it in casually. Remember to whom you spoke in case you have to call and ask for him/her when following up. Ask for a business card from each person you meet. This assures you'll have the correct spelling of their name and correct title.

9. Follow up without irritating.

Send a brief thank you note to each interviewer within 24 hours. Express your interest in the position and the confidence that you could perform the function. If working with a recruiter, call them as soon as possible after the interview. They need to know if you're interested in the position so they can contact and provide feedback to the company. Finally, if not working with a recruiter, place a follow-up call to the interviewer a few days after your thank you note arrives. Don't make yourself a nuisance, but don't become so inconspicuous that you are no longer a consideration. Waiting for them to call is a poor idea if for no other reason than you should continue looking for a new opportunity.

10. Be prepared to return calls quickly.

If they want you to return, be ready for that possibility. If they never want to see you again, find out why. If they call, answer quickly. If you want the job, and they tell you that they want you by leaving messages, don't delay calling back, or they will step over you.

11. Be prepared to talk about what will happen if you are offered the job.

This includes start date. Have an idea of when you could start, remembering that in most cases the company would like you better if you started sooner rather than later. Have in mind what you are looking for in a salary. If you are open regarding salary, listen to their first offer. If you have specific parameters they must meet, then say so. If they are nowhere near your range, remain calm. Be clear, concise, and honest, bearing in mind that if you really want the job then you should compromise accordingly. If they offer 2 dollars annually, and you are asking for 3 dollars, they might balk. Split the difference and ask for 2 dollars and fifty cents. They may say yes and you can take the offer, if it is what you want. They may say that 2 dollars is their best offer If you truly want the job, take it if the salary is survivable; if it's not, decline and tell them so. But if you become visibly irritated or annoy them with salary requests they find outlandish, they will pass you over, and that will land you squarely where you already were. Remember that you are not the only candidate for the job.

Are you ready to interview?... Remember, common sense and relax. And give us a call here at NEED if you have any questions.


Copyright New England Engineers & Designers, Inc. 1998 - 2012 all right reserved


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