An interview is a meeting between an employer and candidate, or prospective employee, to determine if the candidate matches the desired skills and credentials for a given position or for an organization as a whole.
Interviews are also used to assess whether a candidate’s personality would be a good fit with the “culture” of an organization and to ascertain a candidate’s career goals. Throughout the course of an interview, a recruiter ultimately seeks to determine:
- what a job candidate wants,
- whether the person can and will perform the job to their satisfaction, and
- whether the candidate will be compatible with the existing team.
Preparing for the Interview
Preparation is the key to successfully navigating the interview process. This section will provide you with
guidance on what to know about the company before you walk in the door, what to wear (and what NOT to wear), and what to take with you.
- What to Know About the Company
Researching the company you are about to interview with is crucial to presenting yourself professionally. The internet is usually the best place to go for a corporate overview. Know what products and/or services they offer, who their main competitors are, and something about their industry in general. It is also a good idea to check for any recent press releases about the company (usually listed on the company’s website). Taking the opportunity to congratulate the interviewer on the company’s latest contract win, or a recent award, will show that you did your homework and it will make a big impression.
- Your Appearance
What you wear is an important part of your presentation. The best way to plan your wardrobe is to know as much about the client as possible. It is always better to be over-dressed than under dressed, so follow these guidelines:
A dark suit is appropriate for most positions for both men and women. Bright colored blouses or shirts and ties can be okay, but make sure that your outfit doesn’t speak more loudly than you do. Your suit should be clean and pressed – avoid wearing fabrics that wrinkle easily.
Ladies - necklines and hemlines should be conservative.
Gentlemen – facial hair should be trimmed and neat.
Avoid wearing too much jewelry or makeup, and avoid cologne or perfume all together.
If the environment is casual, dress slightly better than you would if you were planning to go out for dinner. Even if you are interviewing in a dressed-down environment, like a warehouse, avoid jeans and t-shirts and opt instead for khakis and a collared shirt.
- The Interview Itself
Small talk prior to the interview is appropriate, but let the interviewer lead the conversation. If he or she moves away from small talk and into interview questions quickly, be prepared to respond.
Be confident, and show that you are interested in the position. Be relaxed and sit naturally, but don’t slouch in your chair.
Be attentive to the interviewers questions.
Know your resume inside and out, and be prepared to answer questions about gaps in employment, any certifications you may have, reasons for leaving prior positions, your education, etc.
If the interviewer asks a question that you do not understand, ask for clarification.
Be ready for behavioral interview questions like, “Tell me about a time when…” or “Give me an example of how you…”. Prepare five or six stories to use for the most common behavioral-style questions.
Prepare a few questions of your own to ask the interviewerP. This will show that you are involved in this process, and that you are as interested in gathering information on them as they are interested in gathering information on you! Your research of the company will pay off here.
Remember to make eye contact. Avoid looking around the room constantly while you are talking—it can convey nervousness and a lack of confidence.
Don’t fidget. Playing with your hair, clicking a pen, or tapping on the table are distracting to the interviewer, and may make more of an impression than your skills.
Sell your skills—now is not the time for modesty or shyness.
Let the interviewer know that you are interested in the job without being overly aggressive. Be sure to mention the added value that you can bring to the position.
Thank the interviewer for his or her time at the end of the interview. Once again, be polite to the reception or security personnel on the way out of the building.