This page is a complete refresher on how to prepare and present yourself in a professional and articulate way during an interview.
This page will tell you about how to prepare for the interview, how to present yourself professionally, and how to appropriately follow up after the interview to improve your chances of being selected.
Research Before Interview
Researching the position is a critical and often overlooked part of interview preparation. What is the job you are interviewing for? What will you be doing if you start next week? You will need to know the skills necessary and the demands of the job.
Knowing the position is not enough, you need to research the unit or department offering the position. What does this group do and what is their organizational culture? How would you answer the question .what do you know about our organization?.
Finally, consider how well you will fit. Interviewers are trying to decide if you know what you are getting into, if you have the skills to do the job, and if you will fit in with the team and the unit.
There are many ways to get more information on a position and organization. A great way to start is to research websites and current and historical news events related to this unit or department.
One of the best ways to learn about an organization is by talking with someone who works there; this is called an informational interview and can provide you with not only great information but a personal connection too.
Talking to people you know and finding out what they know about an organization is another approach to consider.
Next, organize content knowledge, which may include jargon or language associated with your type of work. Think about what you have learned from your past work and volunteer experiences. The best way to prove you have the skills and content knowledge is through specific examples. Think of examples before the interview.
Be as specific as possible with facts, figures or other information that makes your illustration more meaningful.
What is the most impressive part of your skill or your experience? You want your examples to highlight your best work.
An effective example of your skills will start with a description of the situation that you were in.
Describe a specific situation, not a generalization of what you have done in the past. Give enough detail for the interviewer to understand the story. It can be from a previous job, a volunteer experience, or any relevant event. Next you will talk about the task that had to be accomplished or the problem that had to be solved. With the scene set you will describe the action you took and be sure to keep the focus on you. Even if you are discussing a group project, describe what you did, your role and responsibility -- not the efforts of the team. Don't tell what you might do, tell what you did.
Finally, give Results. What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? What was improved? What difference did you make? The more details you can provide about the results, the more impressive the story will be. This will provide an ending for your story that will make it more memorable.
Here is a better example of time management:
As an executive assistant, working in the CLA Psychology department, I was also taking 2 classes towards completing my degree in Communications. During finals, the Chief Administrative Officer of our department was ill for 5 weeks, so my manager asked me to coordinate her workload and assist her with a huge grant that meant the future to our office. I used my time management skills to prioritize my work load and structure my time, as well as track the important tasks and projects that were due. The results of that hectic time were, we achieved the grant deadline, won the three-year grant award, I received 'A's in both of my classes and we all understood better how we could work together in the future. Finally, I was treated to a special lunch with my manager and the Chief Administrative Officer for the excellent work I did while she was out.
There are on-line options for practicing, including interview stream. For this option you must have a webcam. Quintcareers website has several interview practice options and is a great resource for job search needs.
Always arrive 10 minutes early, NEVER come late. (Coming on time to an interview, is considered late.) Do a test run to the interview location prior to the actual interview to avoid any delays.
Treat everyone you meet including administrative assistants and receptionists with kindness and respect, these are your potential co-workers.
Greet anyone you meet with your full name and the name of your interviewer.
Extend your hand for the handshake. Use a medium-to-firm handshake -- no dead fish, or bone-crushing. Introduce yourself, such as: "Good morning, I'm Jim/Jane Candidate, I'm glad to meet you" and "Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a candidate for this position." If there is more than one interviewer, be sure to write down each of their names, so you can refer to them if necessary. You will also need their names and contact information for follow up thank you notes.
Focus on your experiences, education or training, knowledge, skills, abilities, successes and career goals as they relate to the job for which you are interviewing. The key here is what is relevant from your background that fits with this new position.
These questions usually start with something like, .Tell me about a time when.. or .Describe your best example of.. Use your STAR illustrations to highlight your skills and abilities with concrete past examples. For more examples of behavioral questions, click on the link.
Most importantly, employers want to know how your weaknesses relate to the position, and what you are going to do about them. Pick a weakness, then explain what you are working on and how you are overcoming this weakness, illustrating your ability to improve.
Another key question you will want to be prepared to answer is .Why are you looking for a new job?. or .Why are you leaving your old position?. The answer to this question is worth thinking about, writing down and practicing. Often people can get themselves in trouble by saying things about past supervisors or teams that they never intended to say in the interview. The best thing to do with this question is to be honest, and future focused about the new position.
Think about what you would really like to know.
Do not ask questions where the answer is obvious or readily available . or when the topic has already been thoroughly discussed in the interview.
Some suggested areas to ask about might be work environment, culture, leadership styles, and challenges ahead.
Thank you notes will get more notice if they are hand written and mailed. If that is not an option for you, you may type it or at a minimum e-mail a thank you. In the letter, thank them for their time, talk about something that genuinely interested you and reiterate your interest in the position and with the organization. Thank you notes are also a great way to mention something you forgot or want to reinforce.