Special Series for Graduating Seniors: Job Interviewing Tips

by robertr

April 17th, 2008


If your résumé and cover letter were successful at gaining the attention of a prospective employer, you’ll probably get a phone call. The phone call might only be to set up an initial screening interview over the phone, or a face-to-face interview. Face-to-face interviews may be one-on-one or with a group or panel. In addition, with today’s technology, videoconferencing may also be used, particularly if the job is one in which you will be working in another location, or virtually. If this is the case, combine both telephone and face-to-face tips.

Phone Interview Tips: The telephone screening interview is usually the first step. This is where you will be asked some basic questions intended to solidify their interest or rule you out. It may be done by the person for whom you will work, an assistant to that person, or a human resources professional. Regardless of who is conducting the interview, don’t think that because it’s over the phone, it’s a piece of cake. Consider the following:

• Set a time when you know you will have privacy and can focus.
• Use a landline as cell phones can be unreliable.
• Find out who will be on the phone and their role.
• Plan for general questions about availability and salary expectations.
• Don’t offer more information than is asked.
• Review your résumé and application to predict questions clarifying this information.
• Be prepared to address holes in your education or vague gaps in time.
• Never read your answers. Use bullet points as reminders of information to convey.
• Listen carefully to pick up on any confusion or hesitation by the interviewer.
• Ask for clarification if a question seems vague.
• Stay away from “what’s in it for me” questions.

• Show an interest in the interviewer with a question or comment related to their role in the organization or some other information your research has turned up.
• Consider dressing professionally to get into an interviewing mode.
• Stand up and smile to project a strong voice and an enthusiastic and positive attitude.

Face-to-Face Tips:

• Make a trial run to the location where the interview will be held.

• Don’t be late.
• Make a strong first impression with a handshake, a smile, and eye contact.

• Dress for success.
• Remember that those who are not formally interviewing you may also weigh in on the decision to hire you. You are “on camera” from the time you walk in the door.
• Review all of the materials you’ve submitted.
• Print several copies of your résumé to hand to interviewers as requested.

• Establish rapport with the interviewer. Notice something in their office you can take an interest in and ask about it.
• Be relaxed and be yourself but don’t be too casual.

• Be a good listener, don’t interrupt, and maintain eye contact with the person speaking.
• Use confident gestures and body language.
• Match the energy level and tone of the interviewer.
• Always use appropriate language and the organization's lingo.
• Assume you have the job by using “we” when appropriate.
• Be honest and sincere.
• Ask pertinent questions that demonstrate you’ve done your homework.
• Stay away from self-serving, what’s in it for me, questions.
• Be positive and eager to learn more about the organization.
• Don’t speak negatively about past jobs or supervisors.
• Be assertive by asking if there are any concerns you can address.
• Ask about the next step.

Group or Panel Interview Tips: All of the above tips apply as well as the following:

• If possible, connect with each person by introducing yourself and shaking each person’s hand.
• Engage all group members by making eye contact and including them in the conversation.
• Consider taking and responding to questions on your feet to display enthusiasm.

• Don’t worry about making a mistake. Just move on.

Finally, look at each interview as an opportunity to practice these tips until they become natural. As with anything, practice makes perfect, anxiety decreases, and confidence builds.

For more tips on job interviewing skills, check out our new blog section: Generation.Next! New tips will be added throughout April. Do post and share your feedback!

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