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Preparing for Job Interviews

A job interview is your opportunity to introduce yourself to a prospective employer and show that your skills, education and experience match the employer's needs.

Employers use various types of interviews. Some only conduct face-to-face interviews. Others do phone interviews and then invite finalists for in-person interviews. Some companies have human resource managers who interview applicants. In other cases, the supervisor conducts the interview. Sometimes, the interview is done by a group of people.

No matter the format for the interview, successful candidates are those who are prepared and who remember the following tips.

Review Your Resume

  • You should be able to concisely summarize your work experiences, education and background in a few sentences.
  • Even if you've already provided a resume, bring several copies to the interview.

Dress Appropriately

  • First impressions are lasting impressions. Download a list of "Job Interview Dos and Don’ts"
  • It's always best to dress more conservatively rather than too casual.
  • For some job interviews, wearing a suit is necessary.
  • For some job interviews, a nice pair of pants or skirt with a dress shirt or blouse is acceptable. Choose conservative colors and styles.
  • If you're not sure about the type of clothing considered appropriate in a particular company, ask the human resource contact to advise you on what to wear.
  • Cover up tattoos and take out body piercings.
  • Don’t wear too much jewelry or too much cologne. It's best to be as simple as possible.
  • Never wear flip-flops, T-shirts or jeans, even if current employees dress this way on the job.

Show Your Professionalism

  •  ALWAYS be early – at least 10 minutes before the interview time. Allow time for parking, finding the office and a last-minute restroom visit.
  • Smile and warmly greet the receptionist, interviewer and others you come into contact with.
  • Shake hands with a firm grip and maintain eye contact.
  • Show a positive attitude and a genuine interest in the organization.
  • Do not bring food or beverages to the interview. Do not chew gum.
  • TURN OFF your cell phone.
  • Do not use slang, inappropriate language or inappropriate humor.
  • Do not say anything negative about a previous employer.

Highlight Your Strengths

  • Most employers will ask you about your strengths. Make sure you've identified three to five that you can concisely explain.
  • Prepare specific examples of each strength you mention and make sure they relate specifically to the job you're applying for.
  • If you're not asked about your strengths, look for an opportunity to volunteer the information.

Practice Your AnswersDownload sample interview questions.

  • Think about questions you've been asked in other job interviews and make sure you have good answers prepared. Ask friends and family members to suggest questions that might be asked.
  • Rehearse questions and answers with a friend or family member and ask them to critique your answers.
  • Common interview questions include:

                   Can you tell me about yourself?
                   How does your work history relate to the job opening?
                   What are your skills?
                   Why should we hire you?
                   What are your strengths/weaknesses?
                   How does your education prepare you for the job?
                   What makes you a good candidate for this job?
                   Why are you interested in the job and/or organization?
                   What are your goals? Where do you want to be in two to three years?
                   Do you work best alone or in a team environment?
                   Do you need close supervision?

  •   Provide more than just “yes” or “no” answers – be conversational with your responses without rambling.
  •  Pay attention to the interviewer and do not interrupt.

Answer Honestly

  • Be honest about your education and previous employment. Sell yourself without exaggerating your qualifications, experiences or accomplishments.
  • If you were fired from a previous job, answer questions honestly about the experience without being defensive. Explain what you learned from your experience and how you have grown as a result. Do not express bitterness or say anything negative about the employer.
  • If you quit a job because of a bad experience, explain why you left without making accusations or being negative about the employer. Again, explain what you learned and how you have grown as a result.

Be Familiar with the Company/Employer

  • Research the company by reading its website.
  • Know the organization's focus, product, industry.
  • Find out who you are meeting with and what the interviewer's position is.
  • Be aware of new developments within the company – information such as new products, recent announcements, new sites.
  • Look for opportunities to mention information you have learned about the organization. Doing so will exhibit an interest in the organization.

Be Prepared with Questions of Your Own

  • Your questions reflect your interest in the job and the company.
  • Ask questions about the company based on information you find out about the organization during your research.
  • Some appropriate questions include:

                   What is your ideal candidate for this job?
                   What kind of training is available for the position?
                   How does the position contribute to the organization's success?
                   Is there room for growth?
                   When can I expect to hear back
                   What is the next step in the process?
                   Can I provide more information that will help you make your decision?

  •  Pay and benefits are often not discussed during the first interview. If the employer does not bring it up, don't mention it.

Leave on a Positive Note

  • Express thanks for the opportunity to interview.
  • Tell the interviewer that you are very interested in the position.
  • Make sure the interviewer has your contact information and say that you are available for any additional questions.
  • Extend a firm handshake. Smile and maintain eye contact.

Don't Forget to Follow Up

  • Send a follow-up note by e-mail or a hand-written note one to two days after the interview to each person on the interview team.
  • Thank the interviewer for the job interview.
  • Highlight two to three of your strongest qualifications for the job.
  • Express your continued interest in working for the organization.

Other Online Resources

There are other online resources for job interview tips. Explore the links below.

CREW Career Center Interviewing Tips
Online tutorial gives tips on acing the interview. The CREW Career Center services are free and available to students and alumni of Metropolitan College and Jefferson Community and Technical College.

Resume, cover letter, interview advice

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