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Interview Skills. Overview. The interview is the most important part of the job search process. It’s the first opportunity to interact with a potential employer in person. This interaction will determine whether or not you will continue in selection process. Prepare prepare prepare!

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Interview Skills

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  • The interview is the most important part of the job search process.
  • It’s the first opportunity to interact with a potential employer in person.
  • This interaction will determine whether or not you will continue in selection process.
  • Prepare prepare prepare!
    • You must be convinced that the job and company are right for you before you can convince them that you are the right candidate!
preparation before the interview
Preparation – Before the Interview
  • Research the company/industry thoroughly using information from network contacts and published materials. You must understand the products, processes, history, industry challenges, and people involved in each interview.
  • Reread job descriptions and newspaper ads.
  • Match your competencies and experiences with the company’s needs. Identify themes that are relevant for the company and position including prior work experience, academic performance and extracurricular activities.
  • Develop a thoughtful list of questions to ask the interviewer about the company, industry, and position.
  • Prepare for open-ended introductory questions.
preparation before the interview4
Preparation – Before the Interview
  • Review a copy of your resume and keep a copy with you. However, do not pull out a copy of your resume during the interview unless the interviewer asks for another copy.
  • Reconfirm interview details: time, location, and interviewer’s name/position.
  • Plan your outfit ahead of time!
    • Project a professional image
    • Dress as they dress
    • Err on the conservative side
    • Eliminate distractions
preparation the day of the interview
Preparation – The Day of the Interview
  • Check your appearance carefully.
  • Give yourself a pep talk and approach the interview in a positive state of mind.
  • Allow plenty of time to get to the interview and relax. Arrive 10-15 minutes early prior to set interview time.
  • Reflect on the image you wish to project.
at the interview general reminders
At the Interview – General Reminders
  • Arrive on time – 10 minutes early is a good rule of thumb.
  • Greet the interviewer by the individual’s last name in a friendly but businesslike manner.
  • Introduce yourself confidently and shake hands firmly.
  • Do not sit until invited to do so, then sit where asked to sit.
  • Do not place anything on interviewer’s desk. If you brought a portfolio or work samples, ask “may I?” before intruding their space
  • Avoid uncalled for gestures- they can be distracting.
  • Take your cues from the interviewer.
  • Let the interviewer signal the end of the interview.
  • Be polite to EVERYONE you meet – you are on stage from the moment you arrive until the moment you leave.
questions legal aspects
Questions… Legal Aspects
  • The laws and regulations concerning pre-employment address the questions that can be asked and not the answers that you offer.
  • It is illegal for employers to ask the following types of questions:
    • Questions about your race, religion, or ethnic origin.
      • “Where does your family come from?”
      • “That’s an interesting last name. What nationality is it?”
      • “What is your native language?”
    • Questions about your marital status, children, or future plans in that direction.
      • “What kind of work does your husband do?”
      • “Do you plan to get married soon/have children?”
    • Questions about age.
      • “I see you graduated in ___. How old were you then?”
    • Questions about height, weight, health, or disability unless they relate to the requirements of the job.
questions characteristics and rating scales
Questions… Characteristics and Rating Scales
  • Many questions that are asked in a competitive interview are predetermined to allow for fair and equitable interviews for all candidates. The questions will vary for different positions, but the objective is to determine the candidate’s overall “fit” for the position. The evaluation is often in the form of a numerical rating scale.
  • Examples of characteristics that are often rated are:
    • Experience - quality, extent, stability, achievement
    • Education - grades, honors, extra-curricular, applicable training
    • Appearance - dress, grooming, posture
    • Attitude and manner - poise, alertness, personality
    • Self expression - voice, fluency, comprehension, persuasiveness
    • Job knowledge - duties, responsibilities (general, specific, complete)
    • Motivation - goals, drive, initiative, sense of responsibility
    • Judgment - tact, logic, soundness of reasoning
    • Leadership - plan, organize, direct, coordinate, inspire confidence
questions that probe your past
Questions that Probe your Past

How you have handled a situation in the past tells a lot about how you will behave in the future. Can you guess which qualities or skills these questions attempt to assess?

  • Give me a specific example of something you did that helped build enthusiasm in others.
  • Give me an example of a time you had to make an important decision. How did you make the decision? How does it effect you today?
  • Give an example of a time you had to persuade others to take action. Were you successful?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult person. How did you handle the situation?
  • Tell me about a time you had to handle multiple responsibilities. How did you organize the work you needed to do?
tough questions
Tough Questions

Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision, but didn’t have all the information you needed.

  • Use a real anecdote from your experience
  • Answer doesn’t have to be great and grand. Could be a simple situation that was handled well.
  • Could explain how you selected Salem from among the colleges you applied to. Were you satisfied with your choice? Why or why not?

What is the biggest mistake you’ve made?

  • Be honest. You’ll show credibility and integrity.
  • Sometimes a mistake can show you’ve pushed yourself to the limit.
  • Concentrate your answer on describing what you LEARNED from the mistake.
more tough questions
More Tough Questions

What suggestions do you have for our company?

  • Don’t answer with an expected or obvious answer.
  • Talk about new products you might add, ways to increase market share, etc. Show your creativity!

What is the most significant contribution you made to the company during your internship?

  • Tell a story about an accomplishment that added value to the company.
  • Demonstrate initiative or resilience.
  • Tell the interviewer about the options and the outcome of your work.
the big finish questions to ask the interviewer
The Big Finish: Questions to Ask the Interviewer
  • What sort of training will the person in this position receive? Who will this person work with primarily? What will be some initial projects?
  • Is this a new position or one that has been recently vacated? If recently vacated, was the person who held the position promoted or did they leave the company?
  • What is a typical career path for someone who begins at this level? Where could I expect to be in 5 years?
  • What key qualities would the ideal candidate for this position possess?
  • What do you like best about working for this organization?
  • Describe the office environment and how individuals work and communicate.
  • What opportunities do entry-level employees have for creative input/decision-making?
  • How are employees evaluated? How is performance rewarded?
it s not just what you say
It’s not just what you say…
  • Watch the tone, quality, and volume of your voice.
    • Make sure it conveys efficiency, warmth, and pleasantness.
  • Guard against sloppy language.
    • Avoid slang and other non-professional language.
  • Speak the language of your chosen field.
    • Read trade publications and business magazines to familiarize yourself with the buzz words of your field.
  • Organize your thoughts and rehearse expressing them.
    • Plan your presentation ahead. This gives you more control over the way information is being presented.
  • Become aware of non-verbal communications.
    • Make sure that appropriate eye contact and other non-verbal messages are congruent with verbal messages.
interview do s
Research the company and ask intelligent questions

 Be prompt

 Have a firm handshake

 Respond to questions emphatically

 Smile – develop rapport

 Maintain a positive attitude

 Speak in a clear, strong voice

 Make eye contact

 Show openness and a willingness to learn

 Be enthusiastic and energetic

 Maintain a sense of humor

 Be courteous, tactful, and polite

 Be candid – show honesty and integrity

 Be prepared for obvious questions

 Focus on the future

 Dress to impress

 Be inquisitive

 Ask for the job

 Sit straight – and don’t fidget

Interview Do’s
interview don ts
Forget to do your research

Be overbearing, conceited

Be evasive or hedge questions

Condemn past employers

Show dislike for school or town

Emphasize who you know

Discuss controversial issues

Use slang and non-professional language

Try to control the interview

Cancel an interview

Be unwilling to start at the bottom

Express radical ideas

Question salary and benefits

Make assessments during the interview

Arrive too early (over 10 minutes)

Arrive too late (exact time of interview)

Wear large, flashy jewelry or too-short skirts

Wear heavy perfume

Forget to send a thank you note immediately!

Interview Don’ts