How to prepare for an interview: The essentials to know before you start! – Curious Wings

Know these things Before the Interview : 

  • Research the Company – A company’s website is an excellent place to begin. It usually gives you information on whether it is international or domestic, what its revenues are, how many locations it has, and the nature of its major products. Most companies are very proud of their websites. Don’t be surprised if one of the first questions interviewers ask when you arrive is, “Have you had a chance to look at our website?”
  • Practice interviews – Write down a list of possible questions that you think may be asked, then have a friend act as an interviewer and direct them to you in a practice interview situation. Don’t stop until you feel comfortable answering each question. Practicing beforehand will make you feel more comfortable and relaxed during the interview.
  • Dress Professionally – In today’s environment, wearing a suit isn’t always necessary. Contact the HR Manager of the company or your recruiter, and find out what the dress code is for the company at which you are going to interview. Then dress one level above. For instance, if it is business casual, men can wear dress pants, dress shirts, and sport coat. Women can wear a pantsuit, dress, or a skirt and blouse. Visual impressions are very important. Therefore, if in doubt, always dress on the conservative side.
  • Arrival – Try to arrive at the interview location a little early. This gives you time to determine where you need to go and will give you a few minutes to collect your thoughts. DO NOT arrive late. Nothing destroys your chance at impressing an employer more than arriving late and offering no explanation. If you learn at the last minute that you are going to be arriving late for the interview, call and let the interviewer know. Interviewers understand that things can come up suddenly. You are never considered late if you call and make them aware of the fact.

Follow these things During the Interview :

  • First impressions – First impressions take only thirty seconds. Establishing rapport, direct and sustained eye contact, a firm handshake, a warm smile, good posture, and introducing yourself in a confident manner are important ingredients. A well-groomed, professional appearance is critical. Greet the interviewer with a firm handshake, whether it is a woman or a man. (No one likes a weak handshake.) Always maintain eye contact while shaking hands. 
  • Smile – A smile denotes confidence in a candidate. Try to smile often. Also, don’t be afraid to use some hand animation while answering questions. This suggests enthusiasm in a candidate. 
  • Body Language – Use good posture, and look the interviewer right in the eye. Sit up straight. Never slouch. 
  • Speak Clearly – Don’t mumble. It portrays a lack of confidence. Speak with assurance. This indicates confidence. 
  • Listen Before Answering – Allow the employer to begin the interview, but be prepared with some opening statements or questions such as, “I understand that this position involves…,” or “What are you looking for in a job candidate?” Make sure you understand the question. If not, ask the interviewer to clarify it. Don’t be afraid to take some time to think before answering. Interviewers are impressed with someone who thinks out an answer before speaking. 
  • Give Brief Answers – Make your answer concise and to the point. Rambling tends to suggest that you really don’t have the answer to the question(s) asked. 
  • Previous Employers – Never, ever say anything negative about your present or previous employers. No matter how much you may have disliked someone, find a way to give your experiences a positive spin. 
  • Be Truthful – Don’t lie when asked about something you haven’t done. The next question will be “tell us about it.” 
  • Know Your Resume – Be prepared to talk about every fact that is on your resume. Many people embellish their accomplishments on their resumes. Avoid this, since the only point of reference an interviewer has about you is the resume you provide to him/her beforehand. 
  • Keep things at a professional level – Sometimes near the end of an interview, the two parties start feeling comfortable with each other. Don’t let this comfortable feeling lead you to tell them something about yourself that they really shouldn’t know. Always keep things at a professional level. 
  • Look for Something in Common – This is something that has given us an edge in the past. Try to find a common bond between yourself and your interviewer. If you are being interviewed in an office, look at how the office is decorated. Look for something you can identify with. Is his/her college diploma hanging on the wall? Did you attend a nearby school, or perhaps one in the same Division? If so, make a quick comment about it: “Did you attend Penn State? I attended the University of Michigan. What a great football conference.” Interviewers sometimes feel more comfortable with people with whom they have something in common. This approach has helped several candidates obtain a position over other qualified candidates. Above all, be sincere.

Do these things After the Interview :

  • Back in Touch – Ask the interviewer when s/he expects to get back to you on her/his decision. 
  • Get Everyone’s Business Card – Before you leave, be sure to get the business cards of all of the people with whom you visited. If you cannot do that, ask a secretary for their names and e-mail addresses. 
  • Thank the Interviewer – Verbally thank the interviewer for taking the time to interview you, before leaving. Within a day, send thank-you letters to all of the interviewers with whom you spoke. This does not need to consist of a written letter sent via snail mail; an e-mailed thank-you works just as well. 
  • Do not give up – Sometimes, within ten minutes of the start of an interview, you will know that the job is not one you want to pursue. If you begin to feel this way, don’t give up on the interview. Continue to interview as if the job was the most important thing in the world. This provides you with the practice for your next interview, which may be for your dream job! Not all interviews will lead to offers of employment, but, if you approach every interview as if it’s the most important interview you ever had, you will come out a winner!

Additional tips

• Focus on presenting a positive, enthusiastic tone. 

• If you are asked to describe a weakness, mention lessons learned, and steer away from negative descriptions. 

• Think about three or four key points that you want to make about 

your personal characteristics, skills you have learned, and relevant experiences that demonstrate that you could perform the job well. 

• Find specific, rather than general, examples from your experience that illustrate important points about yourself. 

• When answering questions, focus on experiences that demonstrate flexibility, adaptability, responsibility, progress, achievement, creativity, initiative, and leadership.

• If the employer signals the end of the interview and asks you for questions, and you haven’t discussed some key points, say: “There are a couple of points I would like to mention.” After the interview, write a brief thank you letter. Express your appreciation for the opportunity to interview and learn about the organization, re-confirm your interest, and re-emphasize how your background and skills might be of interest to the organization.

Aftermath:

Successful?

If you are successful, now is the time to negotiate on salary, terms, and conditions. Make sure you are happy before you sign the contract. If you are lucky enough to be juggling more than one job offer or are awaiting the result of another interview, make sure you know what the timescale for formal acceptance is. Delaying too long could leave you without anything. Some jobs, particularly in teaching, may be offered to you on the day. In cases like this, do not accept the idea you can change your mind later. A verbal agreement is considered binding.

Unsuccessful?

You are statistically likely to be unsuccessful rather more often than you are successful at an interview. That is, you may possibly have to go through the process a number of times until you get a job. There can be many reasons why you are not successful, many of which have nothing to do with you. Try to treat each one as a learning experience.

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