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How to Interview for a Job

Updated on August 11, 2011
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Introduction

If you followed my advice on writing a resume that stands out, you should be getting ready for an interview right about now. In this employers' market, you'll want to do everything in your power to prepare because you are competing against many who are seeking the same job.

If you want to improve your chances, read on so you'll know what you need to do before, during, and after the interview.

Things To Do Before the Interview

In the Art of War, the great Sun Tzu stated that in order to win wars you must know yourself and your enemy's strength and weaknesses. Job searching isn't quite like waging a war, but you'll need to apply a similar thought process when preparing for a job interview.

First, take an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses. Keep your strengths in mind because those are the ones you'll need to highlight and sell. Know your weaknesses as you'll want to have some responses on how you can get around them. Remember, one of the common questions asked in interviews is "What are your strengths and weaknesses". By taking an inventory of them, these information will be at the forefront of your thoughts and will allow you to answer without stumbling around.

Second, do research on your potential employer. All companies have web sites. Do general searches about how they are doing financially and any news that might be related to them. Remember, the interview process is a two way street. You are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Learn what you can about the company from the web, and write down questions to help determine if the company is right for you. Besides, having done your research ahead of time is almost always sure to impress the interviewers. They will get the impression you have initiative.

Thirdly, make sure you have an answer for the question "Why should we hire you for this job?". When you answer this question, it must convey to the interviewers how you will become an important asset to the company for what you offer, and not what they can do for you. Companies are in business for one thing in general--make money. If you aren't going to help them improve their profits directly or indirectly, they have no use for you.

Last but not least, in today's totally connected world of social networking, make sure you clean up any questionable posts you might have out there. Hiring managers will search the web for information about you. Note that people sometimes posts the weirdest things online during a temporary lapse in common sense. Such posts are prevalent on social networking sites like Facebook; and sometimes, those posts can give a hiring manager a bad impression of you. So clean or delete those questionable posts.


Interview Tips

You made it! At this point, you are about to embark on an interview adventure; but before you jump in, make sure to keep these interviewing tips in mind:

DOs

  1. Keep in mind that you only have one chance to make a first impression, so make it good.
  2. Bring a pad and pen so you can jot down questions you may want to ask as they come up during the interview. Most importantly, use it to make notes on long, multipart questions. This will help ensure your answers are complete.
  3. Answer questions as complete as possible. Be verbose. Remember, the interviewers are trying to really understand who your are and what you know in this pretty limited encounter. Besides, the interview is "the" main thing they have to make a hiring decision.
  4. Dress up. It doesn't hurt to look good, but it does help in making a good impression.
  5. Do ask the hiring manager (and other interviewerss) for their email address. You'll need it later.

DON'Ts

  1. Do not ramble on when answering a question. There is a difference between rambling on and being verbose when answering questions. When you ramble on, you are no longer adding value to your answer. It is best to stop. Rambling on leaves a bad taste in interviewer's impression of you. You will look like a time sucker; time is money, and when you are wasting people's time rambling on, you are wasting money, and companies are there to maximize their profit.
  2. Do not look down when answering an interviewer's question. Instead, look them straight in the eyes. Looking down gives the interviewer the impression you don't have confidence in yourself.
  3. Do not make stuff up when answering a question you do not know. If you don't know the answer, just say so, and let them know you can look it up and give them the answer later.
  4. Do not be late for your interview. Being late is a signal to the hiring manager that you aren't someone they can depend on. If something happened that will cause you to be late, make sure to call them, and possibly reschedule the interview.
  5. When asked about giving an example of how you handled a situation in the past, do not respond with a hypothetical answer; instead, respond with an actual experience you had. Interviewers are always looking for how you behaved in the past, because past behaviors are a good indicator of the future. So when answering, make sure your experience puts you in a good light.
  6. Do not start asking about how much you are going to make. If you show yourself to be a potential value for the company, they will make sure to offer you something you cannot resist. The offer doesn't come in until after they've made a decision to hire you.

Things to Do After the Interview

So you think after the interview, you are done? Absolutely not. Your job is to do everything in your power to keep influencing the folks who interviewed you.

After the interview, email those involved with the interview and thank them for the opportunity. In that same email, make a final appeal regarding what value you will bring to the company, and if there were questions you weren't able to answer during the interview, answer it here to prove that you have initiative and can research topics you don't know.

If the interview team has narrowed down the hiring selection to a couple of people and you are one of the two, your email could help in tilting the balance of the decision to your side.

Summary

Great! You made it this far. Let's summarize what we covered here.

  1. Make sure to prepare for the interview. There are several things you can do before even stepping foot at the interviewer's office.
  2. Remember the interviewing DOs and DON'Ts. Keep them in mind. They will help improve your standing.
  3. After the interview, make sure to followup with the interviewers by sending them a "thank you" email.

That's it. You should be good to go. Good luck, and good job hunting!

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