Interviewing with Ease
Job interviews provide an opportunity for you and a prospective employer to learn more about one another and evaluate whether you are right for each other. With a little basic preparation, you can take a lot of the stress out of the interview process and improve your chances of making a good impression.
Before the Interview:
- Find out where the interview will be held and work out your transportation schedule ahead of time, allowing enough time for travel, parking, and walking to the interview location. Remember to bring enough money for any needed bus fare, meters, or garages.
- Familiarize yourself with the prospective employer. What do they do, how long have they been in business, what kinds of qualifications are they looking for? In the process, you may find you have some insightful questions to ask the interviewers that will demonstrate your serious interest in the job.
- Practice answering common interview questions. You can find some here and here. Role-play on your own or with a friend and don’t be afraid to throw yourself a few curveballs, remembering to turn even seemingly negative topics (“What is one of your weaknesses?”) into positives (“I’m a perfectionist, but I’ve learned to use my organizational skills to work it to my advantage.”).
- Know your own best skills and qualities and be able to explain both how you’ve put them to good use in the past and how they’ll make you a good fit for the desired position.
- Bring a few copies each of your up-to-date resume, cover letter, and list of references. In the case of the latter, be sure you’ve obtained permission from your references to use them and let them know that they may be contacted so they have time to prepare some you-boosting comments.
At the Interview:
- Present a neat, clean, and professional appearance.
- Arrive a few minutes early and turn off your cell phone before you enter the waiting area.
- Relax. Be calm, friendly, and positive. If you make others feel comfortable, you’ll feel more comfortable, too, and vice versa.
- Be an active listener. By making eye contact, paying attention to each question, and responding appropriately to the interviewer’s reactions and tone, you’ll have an easier time focusing on making thoughtful answers, asking your own relevant questions, and engaging sincerely with the interviewer.
After the Interview:
- Thank the interviewer for his or her time.
- Ask about the expected decision-making timeframe and if it would be all right for you to call or email in a few days to check the status of your application.
- Within the next day or two, send a note expressing your appreciation for the opportunity to interview and to reconfirm your interest in the position.
- If you are not contacted within the timeframe indicated by the interviewer, follow up with a friendly phone call.
If you feel confident in your knowledge of the prospective employer, the requirements of the position you’re interested in, your own qualifications as they relate to the position, and what kinds of questions to expect, you’ll find the interview process much less daunting and your performance that much more impressive.
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