Job Interview Guide
In this article you learn the 14 basic do's and the 14 basic don'ts of the job interview and how to sell your skills to a potential employer through the use of examples.
What makes for a good job interview? This question is not easily answered. There are many unpredictable factors: What type of setting you'll be in; what kind of personality the interviewer has; what kind of expectations the company has at the start of the process.
But the job seeker—whether an entry-level recent graduate or a senior-level manager—can put certain aces up his or her sleeve that can ensure an impressive interview performance.
14 Rules of Thumb for the Job Interview
1. Match Needs:
The first rule you are taught in any sales course is to keep your mouth shut about your product until you discern the needs of the customer. If you can figure out a company's needs before you start to talk about your strengths, then you can emphasize the strengths you have that fit its needs.
Interviews are obviously stress-inducing. For many job seekers, relaxing, or at least appearing to be relaxed, is the biggest hurdle. The key is not to force it. Engage in small talk, make plenty of eye contact, and, of course, smile!
A good listener can impress an interviewer much more than a good talker can. This is because a listener will pick up the interests and character of the company and can structure answers accordingly.
To show that you are thinking and paying attention, clarify what the interviewer is saying by paraphrasing what has been said or summarizing your understanding of key points. This way you can show off your knowledge of the issues and your concern for the company's needs.
5. Ask Questions:
The easiest way to kill an interview is to fail to ask questions. And don't wait to be asked if you have any before you ask them; interject them at the appropriate points throughout the interview.
6. Express Focused Goals:
A person who knows where he is going impresses us as having confidence, intelligence, and leadership ability. You project indecisiveness and a weak, lackadaisical attitude if your goals appear vague and meandering.
7. Be Specific:
The more specific and quantified your questions and answers, the more you convince the interviewer of your skills and accomplishments.
8. Polish Your Facts:
Have dates and timelines clearly in mind so that your presentation shows forethought. If you can't remember a date or other detail, don't spend too much time groping for it. Lengthy pauses to search your mind for exact dates can drain the energy from your presentation.
9. Use Notes:
It is completely acceptable to refer to notes or to your resume during the interview. It is also fine to take notes, but don't concentrate on this so extensively that it interferes with a comfortable flow of conversation or causes you to avoid eye contact.
10. Keep the Ball Rolling:
You appear savvy and professional if you establish a continuing relationship with the company beyond the end of the interview. Try to schedule the time and place for the next meeting or at least discern what future plans are for the interviewing process. Ask who else you might be talking with as part of the hiring process or ask who makes the final decision and when.
11. Express Interest:
If two otherwise equal job candidates express differing levels of interest in the position, the one with the most enthusiasm for the position will most certainly get the job.
12. Ask For a Business Card:
Too often a job seeker completely forgets the name of the person with whom he just interviewed and is too embarrassed to ask. You need that name and its correct spelling for future correspondence, including the thank-you note.
13. Be Flexible:
Now is not the time to stick resolutely to your guns about work schedule, job duties, or other aspects of the position. Express flexibility throughout the interview process, and become more strongly focused on your needs after you receive the offer.
14. Stay on the Side of Respect:
It is better to avoid the use of first names unless invited. Projecting a reserved yet friendly attitude gives an air of professionalism and level-headedness.
14 Things to Avoid in the Interview
1. Don't Be Late:
What does tardiness convey to an employer, no matter how good the excuse? Unfortunately, the impression created is that of laziness, disorganization, thoughtlessness, self-importance, bad attitude, and lack of interest. Would you hire someone like that? Enough said.
2. Don't Dominate:
Let the interviewer lead the interview. Thoughtful questions and well placed interjections are appreciated, but attempts to overpower are not.
3. Don't Ramble:
Take care not to answer questions that were not asked. Extraneous information, especially when it comes off the top of your head and is unrehearsed, is usually detrimental to your cause.
4. Don't Argue with the Interviewer:
There is no way to win an argument in a job interview. Pointing out the interviewer's mistakes or questioning facts about the job appears bullish and negative.
5. Don't Use Diluted Language:
Phrases such as "and stuff," "or something," "you know," and "sort of" sound unprofessional and ineffectual. They dilute your message of confidence.
6. Don't Use Over inflated Language:
Phrases and words such as "re," "per," and "per se" can sound hokey and out of place.
7. Don't Bring the Kitchen Sink:
Remove un-needed papers from your briefcase before the interview so that you carry only the papers you need into the interview. This helps you avoid doing the "panic shuffle" while searching for a resume.
8. Don't Undersell Yourself:
Experts say that most of us find it tough to "brag" in an interview. Remember, though, that potential employers don't know you, and if you don't tell them how good you are in the interview, you'll never have a chance to prove it on the job.
9. Don't Beep in an Interview:
Turn off all mechanical devices: cell phones, watches, beepers, etc. They are annoying and show lack of planning.
10. Don't Interrupt:
Interrupting a person who is speaking is rude, whether you are in an interview or not. It shows lack of respect, and it makes you appear overeager and careless.
11. Don't Mention Other Offers:
Don't attempt to make the point that you are a sought-after commodity by bringing up other interviews or offers. It creates the same effect as a boy on a date discussing his other girlfriends: He looks self-centered and disloyal.
12. Don't Talk Money:
You want to give the impression that you are motivated by a strong work ethic, an interest in learning, and enthusiasm for the company and the field in general. You do not want to sound as if you're there for the money. Let the interviewer bring up the salary issue first.
13. Don't Ask How You Did:
Don't close the interview with "Well, how did I do?" or, "Do you think I have a chance?" It completely erodes your look of confidence.
14. Don't Assume:
Don't let erroneous expectations about the position or the company throw you off guard. What you hear before the interview and what is conveyed during the interview may be quite different.
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