Successful Job Interviewing Techniques for the College Graduate
by Maureen J. Chemsak
KEY STEPS FOR PREPARATION
BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
- Assess yourself -- interests, abilities, education, values, strengths, weaknesses and goals. Organize your thoughts, write down answers to the most expected questions, and practice, if possible.
- Research the organization -- history, products/services, reputation, location, organizational structure, prospects for growth, standing in the industry, business methods and key personnel.
- Gather key materials to take to the interview -- extra résumés, work samples, a list of your references, letters of recommendation, notepad, pen, copy of ad, company information, correspondence from interviewer, your list of questions and a briefcase.
- Dress for success -- neatly, conservatively, think about employer "dress for the position you want", hair/nails/make-up/perfume/jewelry.
- Expect -- tough open-ended questions interviewers with different personalities and skills, application forms, tests, tour, to meet more than one person, a group interview.
- Be 10-15 minutes early --make sure you know directions to the interview site. Call if you will be unavoidably late.
DURING THE INTERVIEW
- Greet the interviewer by name, smile and give a firm handshake.
- Be aware of your body language, including eye contact, posture, facial expressions, nodding and crossed legs, for example. Make sure it contributes to a positive impression.
- Relax, be honest, show interest and enthusiasm. Take notes, listen carefully, stress your best. Be positive and tell them you are interested in the position. Do not exaggerate, cover up your past record, or complain about previous employers.
- EXPRESS YOURSELF CONFIDENTLY! Be yourself - genuine, sincere and capable. Above all, be a good listener. Avoid personal issues.
In the last 5-10 minutes:
- ASK questions about the job specifics (not salary or benefits during the first interview.)
- ASK when you can expect to hear from them.
- ASK for a business card.
- ASK if you can check back periodically.
- THANK the interviewer.
- SHAKE HANDS goodbye.
AFTER THE INTERVIEW
SAMPLE QUESTIONS YOU MAY BE ASKED
- Do a mental self-assessment/critique of what went well or what you could improve in the next interview.
- Write a short, personal thank-you note stressing your outstanding points again. Restate your interest in the position, and mention those pertinent qualities you might have forgotten in the interview.
- Do your homework on your salary ranges in the library, Career Services or "friends in the know". Learn and apply negotiating techniques.
- Keep looking for work! Check back with the employer periodically. If you do not get the job, review your job plan, and look for ways to improve during a future interview.
REMEMBER: TWELVE INTERVIEWS = ONE JOB OFFER
- If you are offered the position, ask for some time to evaluate the position as far as hours, location, salary, benefits, working conditions and advancement.
- After you accept verbally, write a confirmation note about your starting date and time. Make sure you get the employer's offer in writing. Keep a copy of the letter.
- STOP LOOKING FOR OTHER EMPLOYMENT!
SAMPLE QUESTIONS YOU MAY WANT TO ASK
- What are your long/short career goals?
- Why did you set these goals?
- How would you describe yourself?
- How can you contribute to the company?
- Why should we select you?
- What are your strengths? your weaknesses?
- What achievements have given you the most satisfaction?
- Will you relocate? Travel?
- What does success mean to you?
- Why do you want this job?
- Why do you want to work for this company?
- What is the most difficult decision you have ever had to make? How did you handle it?
- Tell me about yourself.
- What was your best/worst boss or professor?
Helpful Reading Material
- What would my duties/responsibilities be?
- How will I be evaluated? How often?
- What kind of training opportunities can I expect?
- How would I be supervised?
- What is the company's philosophy in promoting employees?
- Can you explain the corporate structure in more detail?
Knock 'Em Dead 1999: The Ultimate Job Seeker's Handbook by Martin John Yate, 1999.
Sweaty Palms: The Neglected Art of Being Interviewed by H. Anthony Medley, 1992.
Interview for Success (7th Edition) by Drs. Carl and Ron Krannich, 1998.