Impress in a job interview

Preparing for an interview is key

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Congratulations!  You now have an interview.  This means that you are one of a limited pool of applicants that are being considered for the job.  Just as you have done in the steps leading up to the interview, preparation is key. 

Some tips to prepare for the interview:

  • Learn as much as you can about the company and position.  Talk to people in your network who work for the company, read over the website, read over the original job posting.
    • Showing that you know about the company will impress your interviewer and better allow you to explain how your skills and knowledge can help the company
  • Do a Practice Interview with these Sample Questions, if possible.
  • Prepare some questions to ask the interviewer about the company, job and work environment
  • Bring two copies of your resume and a list of references as well as two forms of identification
  • Don’t bring anyone else with you to the interview.  If someone gives you a ride, ask them to stay in the car or come back later to pick you up
  • Plan to arrive 15 minutes early to the scheduled time.  If the interview is being held somewhere you are not familiar with, you may want to find the interview location a day or two ahead to ensure you know where to go.
  • Watch your appearance!
    • Make sure are clean and neat.  If needed, get a haircut, and/or trim beards and mustaches.
    • Be yourself, but don’t go too heavy on the makeup, perfume, cologne
    • Wear clothes appropriate to the situation that are clean and neat. Use an iron if they are too wrinkled and polish your shoes, if needed.
    • Don’t smoke before or during the interview & don’t chew gum.
  • Turn off your cell phone.

During the interview:

  • Introduce yourself with confidence, greet all interviewers with a firm handshake, make eye contact and introduce yourself using your first and last name. 
  • You will probably be nervous but watch your body language.  Sit up straight, keep your feet on the floor and try not to fidget.
  • Try to get a business card from all interviewers or write their name and title down in a notepad

After the interview:

  • Provide hard copies of your resume and references, if requested.
  • Be prepared to schedule a second interview if requested.
  • Be prepared to discuss an offer or call to start work
  • Within 48 hours, send a thank you note to all interviewers, thanking them for their time and restating your interest and qualifications for the position. 

Interviews are not all face-to-face.  Some employers prefer multiple rounds of interviews to help narrow a field.  Often these first rounds are completed over the phone or via a video call, while the later rounds are normally in person.

The great thing about a telephone interview is that you can have notes ready to review without the interviewer being aware that you are referring to them.  Take advantage of this, be prepared and have multiple items ready to refer to such as:  your resume, the job description, questions to ask the employer, notes about the company and your calendar to schedule a second interview.  Practicing the interview with a friend can be very helpful and a good way to get feedback about how you come across over the phone.

Other things to remember when participating in a phone interview:

  • Conduct the interview in a quiet place alone.  Ignore any distractions such as a doorbell, another phone ringing and disable call waiting, if possible
  • Standing up during the call will help your voice project better, you will also feel more engaged
  • Be enthusiastic and smile, as this will come through in your voice
  • Use a landline, if possible.  They have a clearer connection with less of a chance to being disconnected.
  • Speak slowly and clearly.  Your voice is the only way to set yourself aside from the other candidates.

A video interview is becoming more and more popular as a first means of interview as the technology and internet connections become faster and more prevalent.  The better way to do a video interview is through your computer, but a cell phone will work as well.  Just like a telephone interview, solid preparation is helpful.  Practicing an interview with a friend ahead of time will get you comfortable with using the software – Skype, Zoom, Go-to-Meeting, etc. – and allow you to get more comfortable

Video interview tips:

  • Conduct the interview in a quiet place alone.  Ignore any distractions such as a doorbell, another phone ringing and disable call waiting, if possible
  • Dress for the interview just as you would for an in-person interview
  • Adjust the camera, sound volume and background.
  • Close all other programs on your computer
  • Sit up straight, don’t fidget or spin in your chair
  • Look directly at the camera, avoid the temptation to watching the interviewer on screen.
  • Only refer to a cheat sheet when you need to, and make sure it is not seen by the camera.