Successful candidates are most often very prepared, so it's important to make sure your interview skills are up-to-par before the big day.
Know Your Qualifications
Or better yet, know your experience as it applies to the job. Take a look at the job posting, and pick out things that the employer is looking for. Write down specific skills or experiences that fit the descriptions. The key here is specificity: just like when you were writing your resume, tangible information about your experience is the most comprehensible and effective.
When the interviewer asks about your leadership experience or problem-solving abilities, make sure you're ready with specific examples (preferably ones that were mentioned on your resume).
Do Your Research
When interviewing candidates, hiring managers look for those who exhibit the ability to fit in well at their company. Even if you are looking to get a job anywhere and don't have an attachment to the organization with which you're interviewing, you want to show excitement and knowledge of the company to the interviewer. The best way to do this is to find out more about the company by doing research.
You should be able to find out a great deal about a company by their website. A great site for researching companies is Glassdoor.
Your “Me in 30 Seconds” statement, or your “Elevator Speech”, is the best way to introduce yourself and give an understanding of what you’re all about. It’s a way that you can grab their interest, while explaining many great things about you. Your statement will explain to the listener why they should hire you and keeps them from wondering who you are.
Do’s and Don’ts of your statement:
A great thing to do when compiling your “Me in 30 Seconds” statement would be to end it in a question (especially if it is for networking). This question should be open-ended. This way you will get an immediate response from your listener and show that you are not just trying to explain your qualities and leave the rest of the conversation up to them.
“My name is Waldo Wildcat, and I’m currently looking for a job at Weber State University. I have 10 years experience working for higher education. I have bachelor’s degree in education. I enjoy meeting new people and finding ways to help them have an uplifting experience. I am dedicated, outgoing, and a team player. My experience includes successfully calling people in director-level positions of education departments. “Who do you know who works in the education department at WSU?”
For an interview:
“I am an upbeat, dedicated person. I have excellent communication skills and speak Spanish as well as English. I enjoy learning new things and applying all that knowledge in my every day life. I have worked managing positions, where I helped increase sales by 20%. I am also enjoying using the knowledge I have gained in marketing and creating websites. I know a lot about using social media to benefit a company, and I know that I would be a great asset to your company.”
Practice, Practice, Practice!
Practicing your interview skills is the only way you'll get better, so do it often! Make sure you have answers to common interview questions (see right), including the dreaded behavioral ones. You answers should be clear, concise, and able to effectively display your qualifications.
If you'd like to practice your interview with a professional, we offer free mock interviews. View the "Resources" section of this page for more information.
What to Bring
Here are the items you'll need to bring with you:
What to Wear
What you wear to the interview is extremely important. You want to portray yourself as experienced and professional. Here are some guidelines:
For examples of what to wear (and what not to wear) to an interview, view the video on the right.
Arrive 10 minutes early to the interview. Announce to the receptionist that you are there for an interview; he/she will give you instructions on what to do. While you're waiting, make a trip to the bathroom to check your appearance one last time. Go over your answers to questions that you practiced.
When the interviewer comes out, greet him/her with a firm handshake. Introduce yourself and maintain eye contact.
During the Interview
When interviewing, keep calm and act like the interview is a casual conversation. Focus on the points you practiced, but try not to sound too rehearsed. Ask any questions you have about the company or position, and make sure you thank the interviewer for his/her time at the end.
Be sure to ask for the interviewer's business card at the end of the interview so you can send a proper thank-you note.
After the Interview
Assess the Interview
After the interview, as soon as you are able, try to write down your thoughts. How did the interviewer respond to your answers? What could you improve on in the future? Every interview is a valuable learning experience: make sure you use it!
Sending a thank-you note to the interviewer can never hurt your chances, and it gives you the opportunity to renew the interviewer's interest in you. Mention things that were brought up in the interview; after learning more about the position, how do your qualifications stack up?
Make sure you express your continued interest in the position and your motivation to do the job well.