Do your research
Company representatives who are coordinating hiring like candidates who know what they want from a job. They are also impressed with someone who has done research before arriving at the interview.
Start by examining an organization’s website and social media pages. Look for posts about the business to give you some idea of the company culture. You can also do a web search for the organization’s name and read any articles that pop up. As you do this research, you can begin to develop questions and take them with you to the interview.
Know how to present yourself
During an interview, your job is to sell yourself, so you need to know your skills well enough to do this effectively. Connecting your skills with the organization’s needs is the best way to get hired.
List your accomplishments and then think of which skills it took to do them. Review your skills list and refine it into a short summary statement that you can explain easily in a minute or two.
Sell yourself as a person with attractive traits like being honest, smart, friendly, motivated and responsible. Make a list of the traits that define you and refine it so you can explain your personal assets in a minute or two. Remember that everything you say is part of the interview.
Rehearse how you’ll handle an interview. Ask your parent, sibling or friend to be the interviewer, and give him or her a list of questions to ask you, especially the hard ones (see some examples below). You will benefit and gain confidence from having thought about the answers, and you may be able to apply them to questions that you didn’t anticipate.
In addition, be aware of your body language. If you can record yourself on video, use it for practice. Otherwise, use a mirror or get feedback from your parent, sibling or friend.
Hand and arm movements shouldn’t be too large. Don’t fiddle, shake your leg or tap your fingers. Your posture should be relaxed, but alert.
Communicate interest and energy during the interview. Be yourself.
Presented here is a list of sample questions that are typically included in a job interview. If you get asked a question you can’t answer, simply say you don’t know. Then say the question is something to which you would like to give more thought and that you are willing to learn what it takes. An employer will respect someone who is honest and open about his or her limitations.
- What were your responsibilities at your last job (or at school, if this is your first job)?
- What major challenges and problems did you face? How did you handle them?
- Which was most/least rewarding?
- What was the biggest accomplishment/failure in this position?
- What was it like working for your supervisor? What were his or her strengths and shortcomings?
- Why are you leaving your job?
- What have you been doing since your last job?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- Why should we hire you?
- Why do you want to work here?
- What motivates you?
- How do you prioritize tasks?
- Do you prefer to work by yourself or within a group?
- Discuss a situation where you had to resolve a conflict.
- Discuss a situation where you had to demonstrate teamwork/leadership skills.
- Describe a situation where you failed.
- Describe a situation where you set a goal and met it.
Looking professional means looking respectable. Whatever you choose to wear, it should be clean, unwrinkled, coordinated and appropriate. Even employers who don’t ask that their employees dress up will appreciate that you’ve chosen to put your best foot forward.
Personal grooming is part of your “dress” too. Take extra time to feel confident about your appearance. Avoid wearing heavy perfume or cologne.
Make a good first impression
Potential employers are looking for someone who is confident, assertive and friendly, and they will be taking this opportunity to see if you’re a good fit. You’ll want to follow these quick tips whenever you meet anyone at your target organization, particularly the person who’ll be interviewing you:
- Look the person in the eye as you offer your right hand for a handshake.
- Smile at the same time, and say something enthusiastic, such as “Hello, Susan, it’s a pleasure to meet you!”
- As you walk to the interview room, make some small talk—weather, how great the lobby looks. Small talk will establish a positive rapport, and the rest of the interview will feel more natural.
- Be courteous to everyone you meet; you never know who will put in a good word for you after you’ve left the office.
Usually at the end of an interview, you’ll be asked if you have any questions. Prepare some questions before the interview and take notes during the interview to keep track of questions you might want to ask.
There are two areas you should inquire about—the organization and the job itself. Are you clear on the responsibilities of the job? If not, ask for clarification. Do you see where the job fits into the structure of the organization? What is the working environment like? Is there a path for advancement?
Following the interview, write a short thank-you note to your interviewer. Tell him or her that you appreciated the time he or she spent with you and the chance to learn more about the job and the organization. Traditionally, a thank-you note refers to a neatly handwritten card mailed to the organization’s address, but it is equally acceptable to send a thank-you email to your interviewer. Keep your note short and restate your understanding of the next step.