Do not rely on your application or resume to do the selling for you. Interviewers will want you to speak for yourself.
Your resume was most likely pre-screened by the HR department, and your interviewer hasn’t even seen your resume. Sell yourself!
When you are answering the interviewers questions, look the prospective employer in the eye while speaking. Show enthusiasm; if you are interested in the opportunity, enthusiastic feedback can enhance your chances of being considered.
The bottom line is that you want appear confident with yourself and your background. Don't inquire about salary, vacations, bonuses, retirement, etc., on the initial interview unless you are sure the employer is interested in hiring you.
If the interviewer asks what salary you want, indicate what you've earned but that you're more interested in opportunity than in a specific salary.
Prepare in advance
Preparation will make or break your interview. This may sound obvious, but it's not. Below are some simple steps to prepare for the interview.
Personal - Know your own qualifications and how they relate to the position. Review your skills and the character traits you have that will help the company's bottom line. Mentally review your past achievements and be prepared to describe your work experience in detail.
Almost every interviewer will ask you: "Tell me about yourself." When answering, put yourself in the employer's shoes. If you were hiring someone for the position, what would you want to know?
Industry - Know everything you can about the industry. Find out as much as you can about the position, the company and its needs.
Knowing these facts will enable you to prove how your background meets those needs. Research the company on the Internet and at your local library. Employers are as interested in your questions as they are in your answers.
It is a huge plus if you ask intelligent questions about the position, the company and the industry.
Make a good first impression
The first few minutes are critical, and will set the tone for the interview. To succeed, you must project enthusiasm about the position, show confidence and competence. Your goal is to convince the interviewer that you would be an asset to the company.
Visual Image - Dress appropriate for the position you're seeking. Your attire must fit well within the office and be immaculate. If you don't know what the typical attire at the company is, ask when setting up the interview.
Your shoes should be polished; pants/skirts and shirts pressed. Clean hair and fingernails are essential. Avoid excessive cologne, jewelry or make-up.
Be Prompt - Be on time! Allow extra time for traffic, parking and slow elevators. Do whatever it takes to arrive a few minutes early.
If necessary, drive to the company the night before and time yourself. Late arrival for a job interview is never excusable.
Here are some tips to remember
The Clothes Make the Job Seeker. Make sure your interview clothes are clean and pressed a few days beforehand. The last thing you want to worry about the night before an interview is pleading with your drycleaner or getting burned by a hot iron.
Don't Forget Your Resumes! Make good-quality copies of your resume on a nice grade of paper. Take more copies than you will possibly need -- just in case. Store the copies in a folder where they will stay clean and unwrinkled.
Organize your portfolio, tear sheets, professional reference lists or any other papers you think your prospective employer would like to see. Make sure your purse or briefcase is stocked with everything else you'll need: A working pen (no pencils!), a notebook, breath mints, a comb, the umbrella I mentioned and some tissues.
Practice Makes Perfect. Like most things, people get better at interviewing with a little practice. Dedicate one night prior to the interview to a mock Q and A.
You can set this up with a friend or conduct the interview yourself with a list of frequently-asked interview questions and a mirror. Don't panic if, during the actual interview, you are not asked any of the questions you practiced. The point of practicing is to "warm up" to the process of answering questions on the fly.
Do Your Homework. Spend at least two days before the interview researching the company. Take notes. Memorize important facts. A little preparation goes a long way. A couple of hours researching the company and practicing answers to interview question can give you that extra bit of confidence you need to ace the interview.1
Prep for the top ten questions.
Too many job seekers stumble through interviews as if the questions are coming out of left field. But many interview questions are to be expected. Study this list and plan your answers ahead of time so you'll be ready to deliver them with confidence.
What Are Your Weaknesses?
This is the most dreaded question of all. Handle it by minimizing your weakness and emphasizing your strengths. Stay away from personal qualities and concentrate on professional traits: "I am always working on improving my communication skills to be a more effective presenter. I recently joined Toastmasters, which I find very helpful."
Why Should We Hire You?
Summarize your experiences: "With five years' experience working in the financial industry and my proven record of saving the company money, I could make a big difference in your company. I'm confident I would be a great addition to your team."
Why Do You Want to Work Here?
The interviewer is listening for an answer that indicates you've given this some thought and are not sending out resumes just because there is an opening. For example, "I've selected key companies whose mission statements are in line with my values, where I know I could be excited about what the company does, and this company is very high on my list of desirable choices."
What Are Your Goals?
Sometimes it's best to talk about short-term and intermediate goals rather than locking yourself into the distant future. For example, "My immediate goal is to get a job in a growth-oriented company. My long-term goal will depend on where the company goes. I hope to eventually grow into a position of responsibility."
Why Did You Leave (Or Why Are You Leaving) Your Job?
If you're unemployed, state your reason for leaving in a positive context: "I managed to survive two rounds of corporate downsizing, but the third round was a 20 percent reduction in the workforce, which included me."
If you are employed, focus on what you want in your next job: "After two years, I made the decision to look for a company that is team-focused, where I can add my experience."
When Were You Most Satisfied in Your Job?
The interviewer wants to know what motivates you. If you can relate an example of a job or project when you were excited, the interviewer will get an idea of your preferences. "I was very satisfied in my last job, because I worked directly with the customers and their problems; that is an important part of the job for me."
What Can You Do for Us That Other Candidates Can't?
What makes you unique? This will take an assessment of your experiences, skills and traits. Summarize concisely: "I have a unique combination of strong technical skills, and the ability to build strong customer relationships. This allows me to use my knowledge and break down information to be more user-friendly."
What Are Three Positive Things Your Last Boss Would Say About You?
It's time to pull out your old performance appraisals and boss's quotes. This is a great way to brag about yourself through someone else's words: "My boss has told me that I am the best designer he has ever had. He knows he can rely on me, and he likes my sense of humor."
What Salary Are You Seeking?
It is to your advantage if the employer tells you the range first. Prepare by knowing the going rate in your area, and your bottom line or walk-away point. One possible answer would be: "I am sure when the time comes, we can agree on a reasonable amount. In what range do you typically pay someone with my background?"
If You Were an Animal, Which One Would You Want to Be?
Interviewers use this type of psychological question to see if you can think quickly. If you answer "a bunny," you will make a soft, passive impression. If you answer "a lion," you will be seen as aggressive. What type of personality would it take to get the job done? What impression do you want to make? 2
Ask the right questions.
Happiness on the job sometimes comes down to one person: Your manager. Your manager can matter more than money, title or benefits. People don't always quit jobs, they sometimes quit bosses. Many workers leave a position because they're unhappy with their bosses. On the other hand, if you genuinely like and respect your boss, your job can be rewarding, fulfilling and even fun. But how can you ensure that you and your potential boss will get along? While there are no guarantees, you can often recognize a boss who's right for you -- if you ask the right questions.
The Ideal Employee
Do you want to know what your potential manager will expect from you?
Ask her, "What's your ideal employee like?"
If her ideal employee works long hours on a regular basis, expect to do the same.
If her ideal employee is someone who never questions procedure, don't plan to arrive and immediately implement new ideas.
If her ideal employee works independently, rest assured that you won't be micro-managed.
You're likely to be happier on the job if you and your potential manager have similar working styles. After all, everyone deserves a manager who thinks that they're the ideal employee.
The Skinny on the Staff
You can tell a lot about your potential manager from his staff.
Ask him, "Can you tell me about the people I'd be working with? How long have you worked with them?"
Pay attention to how well your potential boss seems to know his staff. Can he list their individual accomplishments? Is he proud of them?
Note his tone and energy when he talks about his team. Does he sound upbeat and positive? Or is there a hint of frustration or disappointment in his voice?
Also note how long his staff has worked with him. High turnover can be a red flag, and happy employees are more likely to stay put.
Results and Rewards
Do you want to excel on the job? If so, then you need to know how a potential manager defines excellence.
Ask her, "How do you measure success on the job?"
You may be accountable to complete projects to deadline and under budget. Or perhaps you'll need to reach a certain benchmark in your performance, for example a dollar value in revenue or a percentage of satisfied customers.
You should also ask about the typical career path for an employee who successfully meets his goals. After all, you want to work for a manager who recognizes and rewards excellence.
A Problem Solved
Sooner or later, a problem will arise. And you need to know how a potential manager will handle it.
Ask him, "What's your approach to solving problems?"
Knowing how a potential manager solves problems can give you insight into his management style. Does he prefer to take charge and make a decision independently? Does he delegate the decision to a staff member? Or does he favor a more collaborative style of problem solving?
Finally, keep in mind that a potential boss' overall attitude toward answering questions can be very telling about his management style. If he's open to questions and answers thoughtfully, he's likely also open to exploring and improving his working relationships. And that's one quality that makes for a great manager. 3
How to follow-up
A thank you letter is a necessity during the job-hunt process, and unfortunately a great number of people overlook this part of the interview process. However, the poor follow-up of others can lead to your benefit, as it will make you stand out from the other candidates if you are the only (or one of few) individual(s) to send one.
Therefore, in order to have an impact on the hiring decision, you must insure that your letter is sent ASAP (preferably, the same day as your interview) – if a candidate for the job has been chosen before your letter is sent, obviously your letter will have no impact on the decision process – Therefore, time is of the essence.
You should send a thank you letter after an informational or formal interview, company visit, or other career exploration activity. In addition, we recommend sending a thank you letter when someone provides you with job search assistance such as referring you to an employer, providing a network contact, or speaking on your behalf to a prospective employer. Bottom line, when in doubt - send a thank you letter – there is nothing wrong with being over courteous.
When writing your letter, tailor it to the company and the interview. Please refrain from sending a generic thank you letter that you copied from a book – this will only prove your inability to do your own work. Instead, tailor it to the recipient and re-cap some of the highlights from your interview. In addition to not sounding generic, your interviewer met 10-30 people regarding the position – make him/her remember who you are and stand out.
Additionally, a thank you letter will allow you the opportunity to explain, restate, or clarify any potential misunderstandings that occurred during the interview. In addition, during the interview you most likely learned a new fact about the position or company – In your thank you letter, you can tweak the copy to re-emphasize your strengths, accomplishments and skills that target your new findings.
Outline of a Standard Thank You Letter:
First paragraph: Thank the interviewer for taking the time to meet with you and remind him/her of the position for which you interviewed.
Second paragraph: Reiterate your sincere interest in the position and company. Be sure to mention something you learned from the interview or comment on something of importance that you discussed – This will make you stand out from the other applicants. Emphasize your strengths, experiences, skills, and accomplishments. As noted previously, tweak them towards the points that the interviewer considered the most important for the position.
Third paragraph: End by thanking the interviewer for his/her time and consideration. If you feel it is appropriate, close with a suggestion for next steps (a second interview perhaps), or mention that you plan to follow up with a phone call in a few days. 4
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3© 2007 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.
4© 2007 How to Write A Resume.org. All Rights Reserved.