The Interview

You have been called for an interview, now what? I want to share some principles with you to help you survive the initial interview so you may get a second interview or get the job. I am writing this with the belief that you already have a resume written, if not, go to a library and begin to put one together. I once received a good job by writing a letter to a prospective employer when I did not have a resume. If you do no have a resume or you are preparing one and you see a job you want, send a letter to that company, but please, get your resume completed as soon as possible. Let me just say here that resumes are not only for office jobs but are valuable pieces of information for those seeking skilled blue collar jobs such as carpenters or electricians, etc. This gives the department manager an opportunity to know your talents before you are called in for an interview and gives you an edge over those who just fill out an application. An application does not offer enough room to describe your achievements and talents.
An answering machine is a good investment because it cuts down on the anxiety, if you do not have one then you must stick close to home but if you have one you have a little more freedom where you will not miss any calls so you may feel free to attend to other business around the house. Of course the ultimate help is a cordless phone, if you have a large piece of property purchase a 900 MHz which will give you longer range than the conventional 46-49 MHz phones.
Make sure you have a serious outgoing message on your answering machine. If a prospective employer calls and hears a tape of your child who slurs words (it may be cute to you, but it is frustrating to others who may not know they have the correct number) or if you have a tape of the Three Stooges or some other type of comedy, remove it and place your name and number on it so the interviewer can identify. If you are single use the word "we" because it tells any criminal they may be dealing with two people and not one so they will not chance it. A simple message is all you need while you are unemployed.
I wish to break this section down into three parts:
• Preparing for the Interview
• During the Interview
• After the Interview
• Men should dress in a dark colored business suit, preferably blue or gray. Avoid flashy or odd color clothing. Shoes must be shined as first impressions are important.
• Women should dress in conservative business attire. No low cut blouses or short skirts should be worn.
• Bring a resume with you to the interview so you may follow along with the interviewer and it will help refresh your memory in a nervous situation.
• Arrive at least 30-45 minutes before the scheduled time of the interview so you may fill out the application without rushing and so you may calm down in case you have encountered any negative situations. Early arrival also reveals punctuality on your part. Of course, if you are late owing to some circumstance not of your doing, tell the interviewer, they will understand. One thing I like to do is if I get an interview and I have the time a day or two beforehand I will take a ride so I may locate the place and this will make me aware of any tricky turns or road construction, or any thing else that may affect arrival time. Don't take any untried shortcuts on your drive to the interview, go the way you know best even if it is longer. Take any maps or directions with you along with the company's phone number in case of any unforeseen problems.
• Do not drive with the windows down unless you have no air conditioning in your car. It may cause your clothes and hair to become untidy.
• Bring a notebook and two pens, preferably fine tip since you must write small on applications. Make sure the pen ink is black as this photocopies better than blue or any other color. Colors like red and green may be okay for doodling but not for an application.
• Compose two lists of questions to ask. The first list of questions should be generic questions which you may pose to the initial interviewer which may be a Human Resources agent and the second part of the interview may be with the head of the department where you will be working. The second set of questions should be specifically concerned with the technical aspects of the job. For example, let us say you are a Design Engineer and you receive an interview with Chrysler Corporation. The first part of the interview will deal with company policies, benefits, and general information but then you will be handed over to the Vice President of Engineering and in my estimation this is the real interview. This is where you get to strut your stuff to the right individual by asking the right questions. If you have a list, it shows preparation on your part and interest.
• Have all your notes and questions for the interview in order before you go into the interview. If you are trying to find notes and questions while the interviewer is speaking to you, it shows the interviewer that you are disorganized and not in control.
• When you are called walk in with confidence and give a firm hand shake to the interviewer and wait till he/she asks you to sit.
• Take out your resume and your note pad and first set of questions and be ready for a barrage of questions. I will list some questions they may ask and for you to ask at the end of this portion.
• When the interviewer is speaking, do not look around the room but look directly at the person. This is proper etiquette in any situation.
• Beware your elocution so you will not sound juvenile. Do not use words like "aint, yup, nope, or other street slang." Always use proper English. After all, in the interviewer's mind, if your speech hasn't matured, then you haven't either.
• Write the interviewer's name down in your notebook or ask for a card. I have forgotten names of interviewers when I was there only 5 minutes.
• Don't slouch in the chair, posture is important.
• Never complain about your previous company or boss. This shows a gossiping or vindictive spirit. If you speak of your prior company, and you will, speak of only the good things. If you were treated badly, God will deal with them.
• Never discuss your personal problems on an interview.
• Answer questions honestly, if you don't know, be up front. This portrays honesty on your part.
• Do not dwell on vacations, coffee breaks, lunch lengths, or money. You are there to work not to vacation.
• If the interviewer offers you coffee or any refreshment, I normally refuse but that is up to you, it is a personal decision. I always feared I would spill the coffee on my clothes or paperwork. Incidentally, if caffeine puts you into high gear, may I suggest that you do not have any before the interview or it will sound like you are on speed or you will speak to fast to be understood. I was interviewed on a national radio network right after I had drunk 4 cups of coffee. My words came out like a machine gun, not very professional.
• Be courteous in all your answers, do not project an arrogant attitude.
• Never be cynical.
• Never play with your fingers or project nervousness because the interviewer might think you are not telling the truth.
• Make sure you have some goals or objectives in mind.
Prepare an answer to these questions now, before you walk into the interview because you may be a little nervous and may not answer questions properly unless you have previously prepared an answer. Many people are hired not because of their overwhelming ability to do the job but because they handled themselves well under pressure of the interview which gives the interviewer some insight of your ability under stress.
Where do you want to be five years from now?
Why should we hire you?
Tell me about yourself.
Are you able to take criticism?
Describe your past work experiences and give some good and bad points about your last company and why?
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Are you able to work independently and on a team?
Were you ever fired from a job? Why?
What are your short and long term objectives?
What motivates you?
Give me five words which describe you, such as: punctual, late, happy, etc.
Why should I hire you?
Do you have references?
Why do you feel you are qualified for this job?
Will you continue your education?
Will you be willing to relocate?
Can you travel?
Can you name me some accomplishments in your life.
Do you work well under pressure?
When can you start if we hire you?
Does the company seem to have a solid future?
Does the company promote from within?
Why is this position open? Why did the previous person leave if it is not a newly created position?
What is my position/title?
What are my duties?
May I see my work area?
What are the hours?
What does the company manufacture?
What is starting salary?
Who will I report to?
What is the most important function in this position?
What results are expected and how are they measured?
Do you need any clarifications about anything on my resume?
What is the next step in the interview process?
1. While you are sitting in your car, write down your thoughts about the interview in the area of where you may have answered wrong or where you have answered right. You also want to reflect on if the job is right for you., if it is, begin to plan your second interview.
2. Write the interviewer a thank you note for seeing you and in that note tell them you will follow up in two weeks unless they have specifically told you not to call?
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