The interview is a critical phase of your job campaign.
- Prepare yourself by knowing about the company in advance.
- Anticipate objections and have answers to them.
- Show how your skills and experience could contribute.
- The attitude which you exhibit is important. Demonstrate a self-confident attitude which indicates that you want the job and can do it.
- Practice answering typical interview questions. Download the complete guide below.
- Dress appropriately for the interview. Be certain that your clothing is clean and pressed and your shoes should be polished.
Preparing for the Interview
Information Preparation - Have you done your homework?
- Research the organization by reading the Annual Report and any other printed information about the organization, or by arranging an information interview with a person who works in a similar position at another organization. You can also find a lot of company information on the internet.
- Develop a clear, concise resume and be prepared to elaborate on what it says.
- Know what you want to do and be able to explain how it fits in with the organization's goals.
- Hone your interview skills! Use your SUNY Oneonta email to create a free account on Big Interview, an online interview prep tool. Check out these helpful videos about getting started with and utilizing Big Interview.
- Review sample interview questions and develop ideas of how you will answer them. Ask a friend to role-play with you. Practice answering the questions out loud and pay special attention to any that seem difficult or uncomfortable for you.
- Have questions prepared to ask the interviewer. Most interviewers expect you to ask questions about the organization, the specific job, etc. Remember, this is a time for you to "interview the organization," as well as for the organization to interview you.
Psychological Preparation – Put yourself in the right frame of mind. Feel confident and believe you are the best person for the job.
Physical Preparation – Dress neatly and conservatively, and avoid fads. Attire will depend on the job you are seeking it is always safest to dress conservatively. Make sure your clothes are clean and well pressed. Neatness and cleanliness count.
Dress for Success Fashion Show
- Buy at least one set of CONSERVATIVE CLOTHES. It cannot hurt you to be overdressed, but being under-dressed (or miss-matched) can be a killer. Also, be certain that your shoes are in good repair and recently polished.
- If you need a haircut, get one. Be well groomed and neat. Care enough to check in a mirror before you walk into the interviewer's office.
Be early and bring something to read in case the interviewer is late. If there is company literature in the waiting area, read it. This is a good chance to pick-up on some information that is current. If the interviewer runs late, he/she will feel less guilty if you appear to be entertaining yourself.
Whatever you do, DO NOT ARRIVE LATE FOR YOUR INTERVIEW!
- Greet the interviewer by name (use Mr./ Ms./ Mrs./ Dr. as appropriate). Be certain you know how to correctly pronounce his/her name. You should initiate the handshake.
- Bring copies of your resume and copies of other pertinent documents.
- Try to be relaxed, yet attentive.
- Don't wiggle your foot or put the death grip on the arm of the chair. It is okay to let the interviewer know that this is your first interview or that you are nervous. Remember, interviewers are people too, and they have been in your shoes. If you are honest about being nervous, he/she may be more understanding than if you try to put up a false front.
- Give short answers that demonstrate honesty and knowledge. DON'T TRY TO INCLUDE EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT THE SUBJECT. This is not the time to recite a book. Remember, it is usually obvious when a person is "trying to impress"... just be yourself.
- DO NOT offer negative information that is not asked for. If asked, "Can you type?", say yes or no. Avoid qualifying your answer by saying things like "I can type 20 words a minute." Communicate to the interviewer that you are QUALIFIED for the position, not unqualified.
- If you do not understand the interviewer's question, ask for clarification. This will help you avoid talking too much and/or not answering the question that was asked. Interviewer's report that one of the biggest "turn-offs<" is when an applicant rambles on and on without ever answering the specific question that was asked.
- Don't simply agree with whatever the interviewer asks you. One person agreed that he was "getting really tired of taking IQ tests," when in fact, he had only taken one IQ test. The interviewer decided that the applicant did well on the IQ test because he had had lots of practice. This was, of course, incorrect.
- Maintain a comfortable amount of eye contact. Do not "stare him/her down," but it is far better to have too much eye contact than not enough. DO NOT look down at the floor or at your feet. It is generally believed that if a person cannot look another person straight in the eye, then he/she is not "coming clean" with the other person. You certainly don't want to appear that you are hiding something.
- Educate yourself on illegal interview questions. Some employers may ask you these questions to obtain additional information.
- Let the interviewer know if he/she has answered all of your questions. As was mentioned earlier, interviewers expect serious applicants to have questions in mind.
- If you decide that the job is not exactly what you want, let the interviewer know this toward the end of the interview. This may increase the chance that the interviewer will recommend you to someone else.
- Establish when you can expect to hear from them again. If the interviewer does not specify a time, you have a right to ask. Generally, a period of two weeks is standard. If the interviewer tells you that he/she will be back in touch within a certain period of time, you should be patient until that amount of time has passed. If the time period passes and you still have not heard from the organization, you can call the interviewer.
- Within 24 hours, send type written thank you letters to the interviewer and to the person who "set-up" the interview for you. In the note you can include any important points that you forgot to mention. You can reaffirm your interest in the position - you may also want to highlight some of your important qualities. Keep the note brief and very enthusiastic.
- If you do not hear from the organization (or if you call and your call is not returned), you may have to admit that the organization is not interested in hiring you. It is unfortunate, but many companies simply don't contact the people they are not interested in.
- However, if you are contacted and told that you are not being considered for the position, you have a right (and a need) to ask the interviewer why you are not being considered. Most interviewers are willing to give you feedback. Be sure to take the feedback in stride--after all, the interview was only one possibility. If you are smart, you will have other possibilities lined-up.
- DO NOT assume that because you have had one interview, you can wait for the results before going to another interview. It is tempting to relax your job search while you are waiting to hear from one organization, but this will get you nowhere fast. Far better to have to turn down an offer than to have to beg for one!
- Evaluate your interview answers. Consult a Career Counselor if you have concerns or questions. Interviewing is a learned skill, not an inborn talent.
- After an interview, send a typewritten thank-you letter within 24 hours. See sample outline letter below.
- Immediately furnish your prospective employer with any additional recommendations requested.
- If you have been promised a definite answer from an employer regarding a certain position and you have not received any word on the appointed date, a courteous letter of inquiry or telephone call from you is proper. It does no harm to show genuine interest on your part.
Thank You Letter Outline
City, State Zip Code
City, State Zip Code
Dear (Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr.) Interviewer Name:
1st Paragraph: Thank interviewer for the interview and express appreciation for courtesy and consideration extended to you. State job for which you interviewed, date of interview and location.
2nd Paragraph: Reaffirm your interest in the position and the organization. Mention anything you have done since the interview that would evidence interest, i.e., performed additional research on the company, talked with local dealers or representatives.
3rd Paragraph: Show your willingness to provide any additional clarifying data or statements and submit any further information you may want to add to your application. Close letter appropriately.
Insert electronic or scanned signature
Develop an accurate file system to keep track of schedules and confirmed appointments, contacts and responses for easy reference during your campaign and for use in future campaigns. Consider managing an excel spreadsheet with all of this information.
It's important to know about yourself. It is just as important to evaluate organizations that might offer career opportunities for someone with your interests, academic training, and other qualifications. This is true for two reasons.
First, learning about a company or other organization in advance can be the key to a successful interview. If you don't know the basic facts about an employer, much interview time might be taken up asking questions that could have been easily answered in advance. This means there will be less time for the interviewer to ask questions and get to know you.
Not only that, but failure to do your homework before an interview--to read as much as you can about the company or organization--can quickly turn off recruiters. They may wonder about the interest of an applicant who didn't bother to learn even the most basic information.
The second important reason for sizing up potential employers is that the decision you make regarding your first job may well affect the rest of your career--and life. A good choice might play an important role in professional success and personal happiness. A bad choice can have the opposite results.
Following is a list of some of the key facts you should learn about any company or organization in which you're interested. There probably will be other information or questions that are important to you, but this list can serve as a starter in sizing up an employer.
- How large is the organization? While this is important, don't let mere size scare you. Some people might be afraid of getting lost in a big setting, but those with real ability usually will be recognized in any organization, no matter what its size. Furthermore, small organizations become bigger, and large ones become bigger still. The important thing is that an employer considers each employee as an important individual, no matter how large the organization may grow.
- How long has the firm been in business?
- What are its products and/or services?
- Does it have a good reputation?
- Does it have regional or branch locations that could offer you geographical preference? While where you live is important, it may become less important in the future. If your work and the non-job environment are satisfying, almost any location can be a good place to live.
- What is the employer's management organization like? Does it offer an opportunity to grow and advance, or does it seem likely you might wind up in a dead-end job?
- What kind of future seems to be in store for the organization? Is the outlook good for growth? Your starting salary may seem all-important now, but it's what comes later that really counts.
- Does the employer have good "character"? People make an organization what it is. Pick a group of people you can be proud to call your associates. A group that is dynamic, responsive, and responsible. This is probably the most important single item to evaluate.