How to Do Well on a Job Interview by Glenda Davis Ask a random selection of people for a listing of their least favorite activities, and right up there with “getting my teeth drilled” is likely to be “going to a Job interview. ” The Job interview is often regarded as a confusing, humiliating, and nerve-racking experience. First of all, you have to wait for your appointment in an outer room, often trapped there with other people applying for the same Job.
You sit nervously, trying not to think about the fact that only one of you may be hired. Then you are called into the interviewer’s office.
Faced with a complete stranger, you have to try to act both cool and friendly as you are asked all sorts of questions. Some questions are personal: “What is your greatest weakness? ” Others are confusing: “Why should we hire you? ” The interview probably takes about twenty minutes but seems like two hours. Finally, you go home and wait for days and even weeks.
If you get the Job, great. But if you don’t, you’re rarely given any reason why. 2 The Job-interview “game” may not be much fun, but it is a game you can win if you play it right. The name of the game is standing out of the crowdn a positive way. If ou go to the interview in a Bozo the Clown suit, you’ll stand out of the crowd, all right, but not in a way that is likely to get you hired.
3 Here are guidelines to help you play the interview game to win: 4 Present yourself as a winner. Instantly, the way you dress, speak, and move gives the interviewer more information about you than you would think possible. You doubt that this is true? Consider this: a professional Job recruiter, meeting a series of Job applicants, was asked to signal the moment he decided not to hire each applicant. The thumbs-down decision was often made in less than forty-five secondseven efore the applicant thought the interview had begun. 5 How can you keep from becoming a victim of an instant “no” decision? * Dress appropriately. This means business clothing: usually a suit and tie or a conservative dress or skirt suit. Don’t wear casual student clothing. On the other hand, don’t overdress: you’re going to a Job interview, not a party. If you’re not sure what’s considered appropriate business attire, do some spying before the interview. Walk past your prospective place of employment at lunch or quitting time and check out how the employees are dressed.
Your goal is to look as though you would fit in with that group of people. Page 264 * Pay attention to your grooming. Untidy hair, body odor, dandruff, unshined shoes, a hanging hem, stains on your tie, excessive makeup or cologne, a sloppy Job of shaving”if the interviewer notices any of these, your prospect of being hired takes a probably fatal hit. * Look alert, poised, and friendly. When that interviewer looks into the waiting room and calls your name, he or she is getting a first impression of your behavior. If you’re slouched in your chair, dozing or lost in the pages of a ver with your hands in your pockets, he or she will not be favorably impressed. What will earn you points is rising promptly and walking briskly toward the interviewer. Smiling and looking directly at that person, extend your hand to shake his or hers, saying, “I’m Lesley Brown. Thank you for seeing me today. ” * Expect to make a little small talk. This is not a waste of time; it is the interviewer’s way of checking your ability to be politely sociable, and it is your opportunity to cement the good impression you’ve already made. The key is to follow the interviewer’s lead. If he or he wants to chat about the weather for a few minutes, do so. But don’t drag it out; as soon as you get a signal that it’s time to talk about the Job, be ready to get down to business. 6 Be ready for the interviewer’s questions. The same questions come up again and again in many Job interviews. You should plan ahead for all these questions! Think carefully about each question, outline your answer, and memorize each outline. Then practice reciting the answers to yourself. Only in this way are you going to be prepared. Here are common questions, what they really mean, and how to answer hem: * “Tell me about yourself. ” This question is raised to see how organized you are. The wrong way to answer it is to launch into a wandering, disjointed response or”worse yet”to demand defensively, “What do you want to know? ” or “What do you mean? ” When this question comes up, you should be prepared to give a brief summary of your life and work experience”where you grew up, where your family lives now, where you went to school, what Jobs you’ve had, and how you happen to be here now looking for the challenge of a new Job. * “What are your strengths and weaknesses? In talking about your strong points, mention traits that will serve you well in this particular Job. If you are well organized, a creative problem-solver, a good team member, or a quick learner, be ready to describe specific ways those strengths have served you in the past. Don’t make the mistake of saying, “l dont have any real weaknesses. ” You’ll come across as more believable if you admit a flaw”but make it one that an employer might actually like. For instance, admit that you are a workaholic or a perfectionist. Page 265 * “Why should we hire you? ” Remember that it is up to you to convince the nterviewer that you’re the man or woman for this Job. If you Just sit there and hope that the interviewer will magically discern your good qualities, you are likely to be disappointed. Don’t be afraid to sell yourself. Tell the recruiter that from your research you have learned that the interviewer’s company is one you would like to work for, and that you believe the company’s needs and your skills are a great match. * “Why did you leave your last Job? ” This may seem like a great opportunity to cry on the interviewer’s shoulder about what a Jerk your last boss was or how unappreciated you were.
It is not. The experts agree: never bad-mouth anyone when you are asked this question. Say that you left in order to seek greater responsibilities or challenges. Be positive, not negative. No matter how Justified you may feel about hating your last Job or boss, if you give voice to those feelings in an interview, you’re going to make the interviewer suspect that you’re a whiner and hard to work with. * “Do you have any questions? ” This is the time to stress one last time how interested you are in this particular Job. Ask a question or two about specific aspects of the Job, f you’re dying to know how much the Job pays and how much vacation you get, don’t ask. There will be time enough to cover those questions after you’ve been offered the job. Today, your task is to demonstrate what a good employee you would be. 7 Send a thank-you note. Once you’ve gotten past the interview, there is one more chance for you to make a fine impression. As soon as you can”certainly no more than one or two days after the interview”write a note of thanks to your interviewer. In it, briefly remind him or her of when you came in and what Job you applied for. As ell as thanking the interviewer for seeing you, reaffirm your interest in the Job and mention again why you think you are the best candidate for it. Make the note courteous, businesslike, and brief”Just a paragraph or two. If the interviewer is wavering between several equally qualified candidates, such a note could tip the scales in your favor. 8 No amount of preparation is going to make interviewing for a Job your favorite activity. But if you go in well-prepared and with a positive attitude, your potential employer can’t help thinking highly of you. And the day will come when you are the one who wins the Job.