- Research the company or organization.
- Be on time.
- Know the name of the persons you will meet, how the names are pronounced, and their job titles.
- Be professionally dressed and neat.
- Pay attention to body language and feedback from the interviewer.
- Interviews are where you sell yourself. Think about what message you are sending to a potential employer with all of your words and actions.
- Think about how you would respond to questions they might ask you and think about what questions you might want to ask them.
- Don't be passive. An interview is a conversation.
- After the interview is over, send a letter thanking the interviewer for taking time to meet with you.
Common Interview Questions
"So, tell me a little about yourself. What is your background and some of your interests?"
Question 1 is a general information question. You will want to have a few things ready for the interviewer (e.g., "I love photography," "I like to spend all my spare time with friends," etc.). Saying you have no interests, hobbies, or background can be interpreted as a lack of interest.
"Tell me, what would you consider to be your greatest strength and what would you consider to be your greatest weakness?"
Question 2 is a commonly asked question. Most people don't have a problem coming up with a strength, but admitting to a weakness can be tricky. You don't want to say something that will cost you the job. The most common approach to this problem is to give a weakness, but put a positive spin on it. For example, you might say, "My greatest weakness is that I have no experience, but I will correcting that problem very soon I hope," or "My greatest weakness is that I sometimes become obsessed with a project I am working on. While my employer benefits from this, it can cause some stress at home."
"Tell me, where do you picture yourself professionally in five years time and in ten years time?"
This question is actually fairly easy, although it can throw you for a loop the first time you hear it. After all, who can really say where they will be in five or ten years. The trick here is that you want to present realistic expectations of career advancement. You might say that in five years you hope to be senior in your position (senior account executive, senior buyer, etc.) and in ten year you want to be head of a division or section. The interviewer just wants to know that you don't have wildly unrealistic expectation which will result in dissatisfaction and on the other hand that you have ambitions beyond the job for which you applied.
"What special skills or talents do you have that make you the right person for this job?"
With this question, you want to sound confident without sounding arrogant. In other words, describe the skills, education, and training you have which matches the job description and bring in other factors which help promote your case (e.g., "I work well with others, a quality I think is vital to this position," "I have the knowledge required for this job, what I need is the experience," etc.). An employer needs a person. You have to provide them with a reason why it should be you.
"I noticed from your resume that you weren't with your last employer very long. Tell me about the reasons that you left after such a short period of time."
Sometimes an interviewer will pick out something negative on a resume and ask you to explain it. You want to have a reasonable explanation which doesn't lay blame on others. For example, "I left my last job because it wasn't what I hoped it would be" is probably OK. Saying, "I left my last job because my boss was a jerk and all my coworkers were idiots," will probably count against you.
"What questions do you have for me?"
Always have some questions ready for the interviewer. Not having a question is considered to be a lack of interest. Your research on the company can pay off here (e.g., "I read that your company is going through merger talks, how will this impact employment?"). Also, you can ask about benefits and compensation of the job, although asking only about money may make it seem you are only interested in money. You can ask about the company's policy about promotion ("Do you tend to promote from within?") and expectations of people in the position for which you are applying.
Questions to Ask in an Interview
- Tell me about the nature of the position. What are the specific responsibilities? Is a written job description available?
- To whom does the position report? Can you tell me something about his/her background?
- Who are the key people in other departments with whom I would interface?
- Is this a newly created position? If not, who was the last person to hold the position and what are they doing now?
- What type of training can I expect in the first six months? Down the road?
- What would be the opportunities for advancement within the organization?
- What are the travel requirements, if any?
- What is the structure of the department? Is it fully staffed or would I be expected to hire staff?