Prepare for the Job Interview
Research the company prior to the interview. The internet is a great resource. Think of
questions to ask in the interview that relate to the job and/or the company. Be ready to
present your background and accomplishments clearly and concisely. Show how you have
contributed to your current and prior employers. At the end of the interview if you are
asked, “Do you have any questions?” be ready with a question that shows you’ve done some
research on the company and the position. Don’t discuss salary, benefits, retirement or
vacation during your first interview –unless the hiring manager brings them up. These are
questions to ask during a second or third interview and probably with a Human Resources
There are usually two types of interviews in the hiring process:
Phone Screen This is as important first step. Plan to go to a quiet room with no distractions.
It is better not to use a cell phone for an interview since the reception could be poor. If for
some reason you’re not ready at the time the call is scheduled, ask the person calling you if you
can get his/her number and call back.
Face to Face Dress for success. The “face to face” interview calls for professional attire even
if the company dress code is causal. Unless you are specifically told to dress casually, then you
should dress in business attire. Men should wear a business suit, tie and dress shoes. Women
should wear a business suit or conservative dress with low to moderate heels. Remember to
keep jewelry to a minimum.
During the Interview
- Do not say anything negative about your former employer, school, boss, co-worker, etc. It won’t reflect well on you.
- Do not lie about anything – salary, dates, skills used on the job, etc. It can, and probably will, come back to haunt you.
- Show what you can do for the company. Companies hire people that they feel will contribute the most to the team, department and the overall organization.
- Go for the offer!!! Even if you are undecided about the position, sell yourself. You can always turn an offer down later. (If you don’t sell yourself, you’ll never get an offer to turn down.) Be enthusiastic, informed and convincing.
- If an area in which you have experience is discussed indicate your competence. If it’s
something you have little or no experience with, suggest that based on you you’ve done
in another area, you feel capable of tackling this new challenge. Turn a negative into a
- Don’t discuss money or befits. Never pin yourself down on a dollar amount.
Instead you might say:
“I’d feel comfortable with you making me an offer based on what you feel my skills are
“Money is important but other things are equally important: challenge, career
development, team environment, etc.”
- In asking about a career path, you might say, “Assuming I’m doing an excellent job, what would be my career path in the next 2 to 5 years?”
- Cover all objections up front. An objection is something questionable in your background that will probably come up during the interview. It’s better for you to bring it up first. (For example: numerous jobs, unemployment, job gaps, etc.)
- If you like the position, say so!! Ask what the next step is in the interview process.
- Be prepared for this important question: “Tell me about yourself.” You need to have an answer that presents a 2 or 3 sentence summary of your professional background and strengths. This is not the time to tell about your family, where you grew up or what you like to do in your free time.
- Here’s an interview question that trips up a lot of people. “What is your biggest weakness?” You can’t say that you don’t have any weaknesses because we all do. The worst thing to say would be something like this: “I never finish anything I start” or “I have trouble getting up in the morning and am frequently late” or “I’m not good at working in teams.” Try to think of a weakness that could be considered positive. You could try something like this: “I tend to take on a lot of activities which then forces me to prioritize” or “I’m a perfectionist which means I need to have a better balance in perspective in my work.”
Follow Up After the Interview
Send a thank you note to the decision maker (or decision makers) on plain stationery or, if the
decision will be made quickly, send an email note. Carefully think this out and be sure that you
are not using poor grammar (run-on sentences and sentence fragments are not acceptable).
Carefully check the spelling of every word in your letter before sending it. You might even ask a
friend to proof read what you are sending.