In your job search, the interview is the most significant factor in determining whether a company is interested in hiring you. It is also a very important factor in determining whether you are interested in working for the company. Having obtained an interview with an employer of interest, you can feel confident that your cover letter and resume are communicating effectively on paper. Now it's your turn to communicate effectively in person.
"A job interview is a conversation between a person who has applied for a job and another person (or committee) who, on behalf of the employing
this conversation in a way that is intended to access the merits of the applicant's candidacy for the job."
The interviewing conversation may take place over several sessions with a variety of people at an organization. The ultimate goal of the initial session or the first interview is to meet basic criteria for the position and motivate the employer to want to continue the conversation in another interview. After the first interview round, employers tend to take candidates through at least one more interview session that may include traveling to the employers location and a longer time frame for the actual interview. These second round interviews are designed to really examine the "fit" between a candidate, the position and the work environment. Offers are unsually extended after this point once a thorough review of the candidates history has been completed.
"As a result of a job interview, a candidate may be offered a job, denied a job, invited back for further interviews, or told that his or her name will be kept on file should an appropriate position open up in the future." - Career
Ultimately, there are two overall objectives for interviewing: (1) sell yourself and (2) learn about the company. First, in selling yourself effectively, you should communicate how you meet their needs. Remember the idea of "If you buy this product (me), you will get these specific, direct
message to the employer. Second, the interview is a time when you can learn more about the company. They should also meet your needs. At the end of the interview, you should know enough to make a "yes" or "no" decision on whether you want to continue seeking employment with this company.
Through researching about the employer and the position, you will be able to be better prepared. Review the company website, printed literature such as recruiting material or annual reports, newspaper articles, and press releases. Talk to people who have worked there before and get the inside scoop. Know the company history, purposes, goals, products, services, locations, and their competition. This kind of information gives you a basis for how to make a great first impression, what things to emphasize during the interview and what questions you need to ask the employer for clarification. Review your resume and come up with examples that you can talk about that give enough detail to pursuade the employer that you do have what it takes to do the job.
Dress professionally and appropriately for the culture you are interviewing for. When in doubt, always dress more formally than you think you need to dress. Underdressing communicates an unprofessional and unprepared image.
Professionalism in the United States also dictates that you arrive early for the interview. Plan to be sitting in the reception area at least 15 minutes in advance of your interview time. Give yourself ample travel time if you are unfamiliar with the interview location.
Prepare yourself to always treat everyone in you meet in the office with curteousy, respect and kindness. You never know who will be asked to give feedback on your visit. Practice greeting people with a firm handshake and appropriate eye contact. Work on good posture prior to the interview so that during the interview it is second nature. Plan to show enthusiasm and energy by smiling and through your communication. Plan to maintain a 50-50 mix of both speaking and listening. When preparing your interview responses, practice answering questions in no more than 2 minutes.
One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to participate in a mock interview, either through a formal program, or by having a mentor or experienced friend ask you interviewing questions and give you feedback on how you came across when answering them. In formal mock interivew programs, the actual interview is conducted by someone with training and the session is videotaped for later review. The experience of practicing "out loud" makes it easier to answer questions in a real interview conversation. Another way to practice your interviewing skills is to conduct information interviews. This not only gives practice in asking questions you want to know answers to, you also may be asked questions similar to ones a prospecive employer may ask you.
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