An interview is the result of all your efforts so far. Here are a few tips to help you make a strong first impression:
- Be on time. In fact, get there 10-15 minutes early. It’ll give you a chance to relax and collect your thoughts. If you’re not familiar with the area, take the time to visit the location a day or two before your interview to check the route (GPS systems are imperfect), and get clear on how much travel time is required. And even then, allow extra time to get there.
- Act like a pro. This means a lot of things. Bring a few extra copies of your resumé. Make good eye contact but don’t be overly familiar, or act over-confident.
- Dress to impress. Even though some work environments are known for having a casual dress code, now is not the time to dress down. At the same time, keep it tasteful and professional.
Fielding Common Questions
There are a few questions that seem to surface in just about every interview. The questions may be rote, but your answers shouldn’t be. Thoughtful answers demonstrate that you respect the interview process and take the work seriously. Here are some questions you might be asked, with suggestions on how to handle them. Be honest and straightforward, but don’t just wing it. Think about your answers, and then try rehearsing in front of a mirror a few times. You’ll be surprised how much this simple exercise can help when you’re sitting in the interview chair.
- “Tell me about your current job. What’s your role and some of your responsibilities?” When asked a question like this, answer, “In my current position, I do A, B, C and D.” then provide a clear, concise description of each, in order, and give examples of results you’ve achieved.
- “What’s one of your weaknesses?” Describe a trait that has no effect on your work. Don’t mention communication style or another personal characteristic that might be an important job requirement.
- “Why did you leave your last position?” Answer with something like, “My current role has taken me as far as I can go,” and then, to help further explain, list the three most important things you’re looking for in a new job.
- “What are your salary requirements?” Try to avoid being specific, as you usually won’t get enough information in a first interview to help gauge how you should answer. Do some research on typical salary ranges for the role you’re interviewing for, in case you feel pressured to give an answer, and answer with a range rather than a specific number.
Q & A – Your Turn!
You’ll want to demonstrate your interest in the job by asking a few questions about the company, the people and the position. Here are a few ideas:
- The Company
What kind of growth do you expect over the next five years?
What’s the business strategy?
What’s the growth strategy?
- The People
What personality types succeed best on your team?
How long do people usually stay on your team before moving on?
Are there other people doing this job on your team? Can you tell me something about them?
- The Position
How will my success in this position be measured one month, six months, or a year from now?
What is a typical day like in this position?
Which aspect of my background will help me be successful in this position?
Last Step: Follow Up
It may seem out-of-date, but the best finishing touch to any interview is still a handwritten note. It gives you one more point of contact with the interviewer – plus, since fewer people take this approach, it will definitely help you distinguish yourself from other candidates.
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