Most hiring decisions are made at the first interview. How you present yourself in that interview could be as important as your experience and job talents.

Before The Interview: Learn as much as you can about the company, salary and benefits. Friends, neighbors and relatives who work for the company are good sources of information. Libraries, local chambers of commerce, Internet websites, etc., are also helpful. Learn everything you can about the position and job duties and how your previous experience and training qualify you for the job.Write down the things you will need to take to complete applications:

  1. Your background and experience list (names of former employers, schools, training, etc.)
  2. A resume or summary of your work experience
  3. Also include any work-related or community service awards that you have received.
  4. Social security card, driver’s license, union card, military records, etc.
The Interview: Dress for the interview and the job. Don’t overdress or look too informal. Dress for success. Check your shoes and look in a full-length mirror, front and back. Go light on the perfume or cologne or don’t wear any at all. Don’t smoke just before going. Also wear light colored fingernail polish or none at all.Always go to the interview alone. Arrange for baby sitters, transportation and other needs ahead of time so that you can be on time and relaxed in the interview.After The Interview: Follow up with a thank you note which may include:

  • It was a pleasure meeting you.”
  • “Thank you for taking the time to speak with me.”
  • A summary of your skills and their needs.
Interviewing Tips
  • Bring only essential items to the interview (i.e. resume, references, portfolio, licenses, datebook, etc.). Do not bring anything unrelated to the job into the interview.
  • Arrive 15 minutes early so you can relax and review what you want to say.
  • Be pleasant and friendly but businesslike to everyone you meet.
  • Shake hands firmly. Be yourself. Use natural gestures and movements.
  • Stress your qualifications without exaggeration. Emphasize experience and training related to the job opening.
  • If you know about the company’s products and services, you should refer to them as you answer questions. It is impressive if you have positive knowledge about the company. If the company is involved in any kind of problem (i.e. lawsuits, layoffs, etc.) do not bring it up.
  • After being asked a question, it is okay to pause and think about your answer. Answer questions with more than a “yes” or “no”. On the other hand, do not ramble. A successful interview occurs if the interviewer talks fifty-percent of the time.
  • Speak positively of past employers and avoid discussing personal, domestic or financial problems.
  • Know your salary range from your research. When asked “What are your ideas on salary?”, answer with a question of the interviewer (i.e. “What do you pay people with my skills and experience?”)
  • Ask probing questions about the company plans, nature of the job, etc. Questions indicate interest and motivation. Questions are also helpful in getting the interviewer to talk.
  • Be prepared if the interviewer says, “You’re perfect for this job. When can you start?” Preparing for this question can prevent a snap decision. Most employers will allow you time to make this decision. But what if they ask, “Can you start tomorrow?”
  • Thank the interviewer even if they indicate that you are not right for the job. Ask about other companies that might be hiring. Get a name of someone to see.
  • Send a brief thank you note immediately after the interview.
  • Call a few days after the interview to see if a hiring decision has been made.

Your Interview Appearance ChecklistBefore my interview I need to:___ get a haircut ___ clean and press clothes ___ wash hands and cut nails ___ shower and use deodorant ___ use a minimum of perfume/after shave or not use any at all ___ shine shoes ___ trim or shave beard/mustache ___ brush teethI will wear my:___ Suit/dress ___ Shirt/blouse ___ Pants/slacks ___ Tie ___ Belt ___ Socks/stockings ___ Shoes/work boots ___ Jacket/coat ___ Jewelry (be very conservative) ___ Purse or briefcase (not both) ___ Make-up (be very conservative)I will bring:___ a note pad ___ two pens ___ extra copies of resume ___ a list of references ___ portfolio/work samples ___ necessary license (i.e. heavy equipment, limousine, bus, etc.) ___ date book or planner ___ application ___ research ___ questions

Questions You Might be Asked at a Job Interview  Think about how you will answer these questions. Then practice answering them aloud.

  1. What do you know about our company? (Use company research)
  2. What qualifications do you have for this job? (Match what you know about the job and company to your experience)
  3. What is your greatest strength? (Relate to job description)
  4. What is your greatest weakness? (Turn into a positive, i.e. perfectionist with high self-expectations. Admit a past problem and what you learned from it)
  5. Tell me about yourself. (Reveal something semi-personal but still professional)
  6. Why did you leave your previous job(s)? (Turn into a positive
  7. If you were hired, what ideas/talents could you contribute to the position or our company?
  8. Could you give me an example of how you have demonstrated _____________________ skill? (Think first, be specific, speak only long enough to answer the question)
  9. Give me an example of how you handled a difficult situation on a previous job.
  10. Why are you interested in working for this company? (Relate your skills to what you know about the company)
  11. Tell me about your education. (Use examples that relate to the position)
  12. Why have you chosen this particular field?
  13. Describe your best/worst boss. (Keep it positive)
  14. In a job, what interests you most/least? (Relate to position)
  15. How do others describe you? (Keep it positive)
  16. What do you consider the single most important idea you contributed or your most noteworthy accomplishment in your last job?
  17. Where do you see yourself in three years? (Demonstrate ambition and flexibility)
  18. How does this position fit into your future plans? (Demonstrate potential and ambition)
  19. What could you have done better on your last job? (Keep it positive)
  20. What have you done recently that shows your initiative and willingness to work?
  21. How would you describe yourself to others? (Keep it positive and brief)

Questions You Might Want to Ask at a Job Interview  Add questions as you research careers and companies.

  1. How do you feel about working in this organization?
  2. Were there any questions I didn’t provide an adequate answer?
  3. As you think about the position, what aspects of this job could be performed better?
  4. What are the key challenges or problems of this position?
  5. Where can I go from here, assuming that I meet/exceed the job’s responsibilities?
  6. What are the company’s short and long term objectives?
  7. When will a decision be made about this position?
  8. What do you see as my greatest strengths and weaknesses pertaining to this position?
  9. What are the opportunities for personal growth?
  10. What makes your firm different from its competitors?
  11. What do you see as the company’s strengths and weaknesses
  12. How would you describe your corporation’s personality and management style?
  13. What is the overall structure of the department where this position is located?
  14. What characteristics does a successful person within your company possess?
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