Interviewing Skills 101

Selling Yourself – What to say

-Introduce yourself with a smile and firm handshake. Maintain good eye contact during conversation.

-Demonstrate to the recruiter what you want to and can do for the employer today, based on employer research. Give tow minute commercial.

-Answer questions with:

“Yes, for example (accomplishment/result statement)”

“No, however (accomplishment/result statement)”

-Show interest in what the interviewer is saying, by nodding your head and leaning toward him/her occasionally.

-Give positive answers to negative-based questions.

-Ask recruiter prepared questions.

-Initiate the next step by asking what the next step is.

-Ask for the recruiter’s business card for future contact. Immediately after you leave make notes of important points of discussion.

The “Tell me about yourself” question

Here is an example about how to answer the first question most interviewers ask. “Tell me about yourself.” It also allows the job seeker to share with the interviewer the most important thing they want to know—“Why should I hire you?”

  1. Personal and Education: This part is used to give the interviewer relevant information concerning you personally and about your educational background. This does not include personal information such as marital status, children, etc. This does include information such as: hometown or state and/or personal attribute(s). The education should be either the latest obtained and/or major field if relevant to job objective.
  2. Early Career/Life Experiences: This part is used to share with the interviewer past work and life experiences relevant to the job objective.
  3. Recent Work History/Life Experiences: This is the time for the job seeker to relate to the employer two accomplishments/results of the job seeker that indicate why he/she is the best candidate for the position sought.
  4. Why you are here: In this part, the job seeker speaks with enthusiasm that he/she is here for the specific position sought.

What to do

-Arrive 10 to 15 minutes early

-Use time wisely to review employer research information

-Have pen and paper. Asking to borrow a pen indicates lack of preparation

-Be enthusiastic. Recruiters remember a positive attitude

-Listen carefully to the interviewer’s complete question before responding

-If needed, pause and take time before answering difficult questions

-Keep going even if you feel you made a mistake

-Carry extra resumes, references, etc. organized in a portfolio

-Unless asked, do not discuss salary and benefits

What Employers Tell Us

When asked what they look for in potential employees, many employers respond by mentioning all or most of the following traits:

  • A well written resume and cover letter
  • Demonstrated initiative and uniqueness in approaching the employer
  • Following up with the employer to schedule interview

Employers look for more than technical or specific job-related skills when hiring new employees. Certain characteristics have been fund to be essential in developing an effective team. Employers look for these characteristics during the hiring process. Knowing these characteristics and being able to identify them in yourself will enhance your success at interviews and increase your chances of getting the job that you desire. Certain characteristics that are highly desirable to employers are:

  • Excellent listening skills
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Proven ability to get along well with co-workers
  • Dedication, reliability and good attendance record

For an interviewer to identify your strengths in these areas, they need to ask behavior-based or situational questions such as “Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with a co-worker, and how you resolved it.” This type of question is becoming more and more common in interviews.

Make sure to offer examples when asked open-ended questions. Answering with just a “yes” or “no” leaves the employer wondering if you truly stand behind your answer.

Interview Self Evaluation

Think about an important interview you have had. Evaluating your performance in that interview will help you to prepare for a future one:

  1. List 3 things which made the interview a success.
  2. List 3 things about the interview that you would change
  3. For each of these three items, explain what you are going to do to improve for your next interview
  4. Were some of the interviewer’s questions difficult to answer? What were they? How would you respond if asked again?
  5. What skills/qualities was the employer looking for? How could you better present these skills next time?
  6. What further information do you need in order to determine if you would accept an offer?
  7. What do you like/dislike about this company? (Consider a graph or other way to rate and compare the companies with which you have interviewed).

Before the Interview

Before your interview find out everything you can about the company (read their annual report which can be obtained by telephoning them). Re-read your application, thinking through your own career and the questions they might ask you. You should try to anticipate the general questions which they will ask and also prepare some questions to ask them.

To do well at the interview you will need to convince the interviewer you are technically qualified to do the job. You will also need to show that you are sufficiently motivated to get the job done well and that you will fit in with the company’s organizational structure and the team in which you will work.

You should dress smartly for the interview and should leave home earlier than you need to on the day of the interview—you may be delayed by traffic or for other reasons. Be courteous to all employees of the company. At the interview itself you must be positive about yourself and your abilities—but do not waffle. Here are some tips:

Assemble all necessary papers

-Resume or personal data sheet

-Know your resume well enough that you can discuss every line if necessary

-Licenses, Social Security card and/or military records

-Samples of work, if relevant

-List of questions you want to ask the interviewer about the job

Many employees will use your resume as a source of questions during the interview. Review your resume prior to the interview and be able to develop answers to questions that relate to your employment and educational experience listed on your resume. Be prepared to discuss gaps in employment. IF called upon, you must be able to demonstrate the skills you stated on your resume. Focus your answers on the skills and experience that will be most useful to the position you are interviewing for.

Learn all you can about the prospective employer

-What are the products and services?

-What is its reputation?

-What types of jobs are available?

-What are their salary ranges?

-What are their goals?

Researching the company you are interviewing with and the position you are pursuing demonstrates genuine interest and initiative. IT will be obvious to the interviewer whether you did your research or not. Many interviewers will focus questions on finding out how much preparation you did for the interview.

One can research a company utilizing many different sources:

-The Internet

-Company brochures and year end statements

-The area’s Chamber of Commerce

-Networking—ask friends, relatives, teachers, social and business contacts

You do not need to know everything possible about the company. The information most helpful for the interviewing process includes knowing the product manufactured or service offered. You should find out the size of the company and if they have multiple locations. Who are their competitors? Did they recently merge with another company? What is their sales volume and is that down or up from previous years?

Identify what you have to offer

Your education, training and experience—what you have done, know how to do and can do. Remember all the skills, abilities and talents you possess that will make you an excellent employee.

Consider your potential as an employee

-Why do you feel you can do the job?

-What makes you qualified for the job?

-What do you have to offer the company or organization?

-Why do you want to work for the employer in question?

Pre-Interview Checklist

Before you leave home for your interview, check the following:

-Have you researched the organization you are interviewing with?

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