Often, it is the degree of preparation that makes the difference between a successful and unsuccessful interview candidate. The following information will guide you through your first interview and provide you the groundwork for your future success!
Prepare for the Interview
Know the Employer
This is an important opportunity for you to demonstrate your research skills! It is important for you to find out a much as you can about the organization, agency, institution, and position you are interviewing for. Ask yourself the following questions:
Find out how the position you are applying for relates to the whole organization. Attempt to narrow down some challenges, opportunities, policies or philosophies of the organization, and plan to focus on these during the interview.
The researcher will not only increase your self-confidence, but it will also impress the interviewer.
Interviewers are often amazed at the answers they receive in response to the question “Who are you and what do you want to do?” Before your interview, know what you have to offer the potential employer.
Evaluate yourself in terms of your strengths and how you can translate these strengths into skills your prospective employer can use. It is also helpful to know your weaknesses. If you are to asked to state a weakness, do not elaborate on it! Instead, state steps you are taking to improve upon your weakness.
Be ready to talk about your career objective, your short and long-term goals, and your interests. Study your resume and be familiar with your education and experience. Practice illustrating how your extracurricular activities are example of skills in leadership and responsibility.
The most important point to remember when preparing for an interview is that the prospective employer is primarily concerned with hiring someone who will make a valuable contribution to the organization. Be prepared to tell an employer why you should be hired.
Learn to Communicate Effectively
You must be able to express yourself and communicate clearly to the interviewer!
Perfect You Skills With a Mock Interview
The Mock Interview Program provides USTP students with the opportunity to practice their interview skills in mock face-to-face and then receive feedback on their performance. Mock interviews about an hour and are recorded, replayed, and critiqued immediately afterward by a Mock Interview Mentor.
Attend the Interview
Be On Time
It is better to be a few minutes early than one minute late for your interview. If you are late, you will potentially make a bad initial impression.
When seeking a professional position, you must look like a professional! A good guideline to follow is to dress as others do in the same occupation. Remember, the first impression is a lasting one, and you want it to be great. For more on business dress, read how to to dress to impress .
Break the Ice
Interviews are unpredictable, and no two interviews are alike. Much depends upon the interviewer’s personality and experience. Remember that your interviewer is in control, and your responses should reflect this dynamic.
Interviewers usually try to make you as comfortable as possible once the interview begins. Often, they start with basic questions from your resume. Since this information is familiar to you, the interview will become less tense. Be ready when the interviewer starts to concentrate on specific facts, however.
Anticipate the Interview Situation
The interview situation can vary from one-on-one contact between you and an employee of the organization (human resource manager, etc) to a panel composed of several different employees or department heads representing various level or functions. It is also possible that you will have a single interview with an organization representative or a sequence of several interviews on a given day.
Performance interviewing is another technique some organizations use. In this case, you will be asked to perform tasks which your possible job will entail in a limited amount of time. Mistake are expected! The employer is looking at the way you handle yourself. In other situations, especially academic settings, you may be asked to lecture or present in your area of expertise.
Another type if interviewing is called behavioral interviewing, where the employer seeks to predict future behavior by examining past behavior. Employers often use the STAR approach to gauge past behavior. When answering questions about previous jobs or responsibilities, be able to describe past work Situations, Tasks at hand, Actions you took to complete the tasks, and the Results you achieved.
Remember, you need to respond and actively participate in each interview. Don’t assume what you have told the first interviewer will be communicated to others in the organization.
During the Interview
Answer the Interviewer’s Questions
After the introduction, the interviewer will usually get to the point. The interviewer will attempt to assess your motivations, as well as the way you operate. While a resume provides the facts, the interview provides the “why’s” and “how’s”During the interview, the most important thing to remember is to be honest! Telling the interviewer what they want to hear is not the purpose of the interview. If you are deceitful and interviewers sense this, the chance of being invited for a second interview is slim.
Be prepare to back up what you say! If you state that you have certain skills and abilities, cite specific examples where you have demonstrated them.
Some interviews might include stress questions which usually involve problem-solving and have no right for wrong answers. The purpose of this type of questioning is to see how you think and react under pressure.
Ask the Interviewer Your Questions
During your pre-interview research, you should prepare some intelligent questions to ask your interviewer. Examples include:
NEVER ask about vacation time or retirement! These are nit work-related activities. You must talk opportunity not security, although you can ask for more information regarding benefits.
During the interview, you should be sensitive to signs that it has run its course. Campus interviews are usually schedules for 20 or 30 minutes. Interviews end in different ways. Some interviewers might look at their watch, which is a cue for you that the interview is nearing an end; some interviewers are blunt by holding out their hand and thanking you for coming. Most employer representatives, however, expect you to sense the proper time to leave on based on subtle indications.
When the interview is over, that the interviewer for taking time to talk with you. Re-emphasize your interest in the position and your appreciation for being considered. This is important, since many candidates mistakenly assume that interviewers sense their interests.
If the interviewer does not offer you a job (this is rarely done in the first interview) or indicate when you might receive word, ask when you might hear about a second interview or an actual offer.
Interviewers are less likely to keep you waiting if they specify a deadline date. If the interviewer is impressed with your performance, you will probably be invited to visit the organization, meet other personnel, and go through more extensive screening. The main purpose of an initial interview is to qualify for a follow-up! It is usually after the second interview that a job offer is given.
Sample Interview Questions
Be Prepared to Talk About Salary (But Don’t Bring It Up First)
One question you should be ready to address is expected salary. On your resume, it is not proper to mention salaries, but in an interview, you might be asked to state a figure.
By knowing the rate beforehand, you can be realistic in your terms. Candidates whose rates are too high might price themselves right out of the job. If you are too low, the interviewer might not be given further consideration.
One way to handle salary questions is to give a range. Be prepared to back up your salary request with specific information about your experience! Generally, it is recommended that candidates allow employers to address salary.
After the Interview
Write a Thank you Letter
Ask for the interviewer’s business card and write a letter of appreciation either as an email or a handwritten note. Previous communication with the organization will give you an idea of the best format to use.
Make the letter more than just a plain thank you note. Tell the interviewer you are still interested in the position and review some of your qualifications so that his/her memory will be refreshed.
Make Each Interview a Learning Experience
As soon as possible after the interview, write down what you have learned. Ask yourself:
321 Pensacola Street
Tallahassee, FL 32021
November 15, 2014
Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to me about the ____________ position with __________________company. I appreciate your time and consideration in interviewing me for this position.
After speaking with you (and the group), I believe that I would be an ideal candidate for this position, offering the quick learning and adaptability that is needed for a diversified position. In addition to my enthusiasm for performing well, I would bring the technical and analytical skills necessary to get the job done.
I am very interested in working for you and look forward to hearing from you once the final decisions are made regarding this position. Please feel free to contact me at any time if further information is needed. My cell phone number is (850) 987-6543.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Your Handwritten Signature
Realizing Career Goals
The USTP Career Center guides the students in identifying career opportunities that will match with their skills, interests, personality and values leading to meaningful and purposeful contribution to the global industry.