General Resources: Interviewing Techniques
You may be presenting your portfolio to a professor, director of
education, director of the center for prior learning, a prospective
employer, a supervisor, a supervising teacher, for a promotion or
tenure committee. Many times the best-qualified person is not hired
for the job. Just as the résumé is important for opening the door,
the job interview is critical for putting your best foot forward
and clearly articulating why you are the best person for the job.
Be on Time
Make certain you write down the date and time of your interview.
A good first impression is important and can be lasting. If you
arrive late, you have already said a great deal about yourself.
Make certain you know where you are going and the time of the interview
and allow time for parking and other preliminaries.
Don't ramble, or talk too much about your personal life. For example,
"Tell me about yourself" is not an invitation to discuss
your personal life. Direct your answer to the job. Also, never bad-mouth
your former employer. This is unprofessional and says more about
you than about them.
Avoid Being Too Familiar
Familiarity can be a barrier to a professional interview. Never
call anyone by a first name unless you are asked to. Know the name,
title, and the pronunciation of the interviewer's name and don't
sit down until the interviewer does.
Back to Top
Answer Questions Fully
Be clear, concise, and direct. Even if the interviewer is easygoing
and friendly, remember why you are there.
Since nonverbal communication is 90 percent of communication, dressing
inappropriately is a barrier that you can avoid. Every job is different,
and you should wear clothing that is appropriate for the job you
are applying for. In most situations, you will be safe if you wear
clean, pressed, conservative business clothes in a neutral color.
Pay special attention to grooming. Keep make-up light and wear very
little jewelry. Make certain your nails and hair are clean, trimmed,
and neat. Don't carry a large purse, backpack, books, coat, or hat.
Leave extra clothing in an outside office, and simply carry a pad
of paper and pen. You should, however, carry extra copies of your
résumé and letters of references in a small folder.
Show that you have knowledge about the company. What product does
it make? How is it doing? What is the competition? Always refer
to the company when you give examples: "I understand that your
sportswear doubled in sales last year. According to current retail
journals, this is just the beginning of a new trend. It may be interesting
to market your exercise clothes as the new action clothes for sports
and casual wear."
Back to Top
Find Out About The Position Before You Interview
Ask the personnel office to send you a job description. What do
you think the company is looking for in the position you are applying
for? You will likely be asked the common question, "Why are
you interested in this job?" Be prepared to answer with a reference
to the company. A sample answer: "Your store has opened up
several new chains in the last two years, so I believe that there
is an opportunity in your organization and that I have the necessary
skills and personal qualities to make a contribution."
Relate Your Experiences to the Job
Use every question as an opportunity to show how the skills you
have relate to the job. Use examples of school, previous jobs, internships,
volunteer work, leadership in clubs, and experiences growing up
to indicate that you have the personal qualities, aptitude, and
skills needed at this new job. You want to get the point across
that you are hard working, honest, dependable, loyal, a team player,
and mature. You might mention holding demanding part-time jobs while
going to school, working in the family business, being president
of your business club, or handling the high-pressured job of working
in customer services at a department store during Christmas vacations.
Don't overstate your accomplishments or grade point average or
exaggerate your experience. While it is important to be confident
and stress your strengths, it is equally important to your sense
of integrity to always be honest. Dishonesty always catches up with
you, and sooner or later, someone will verify your background.
Back to Top
Focus on What You Can Do for the Company
Don't ask about benefits, salary, or vacations until you are offered
the job. This implies a "what can this company do for me"
attitude. Be careful about appearing arrogant or displaying a know-it-all
attitude. You are there to show how you can contribute to the organization.
Don't appear to be too eager to move up through the company or suggest
that you are more interested in just gaining experience than in
contributing to the company.
Be Poised and Relaxed
Avoid nervous habits such as tapping your pencil, playing with
your hair, or covering your mouth with your hand. Watch such turn-off
language as, 'you know,' 'ah,' 'stuff like that.' . Don't smoke,
chew gum, fidget, or bite your nails. Most career development centers
or public speaking classes will videotape you while being interviewed.
It is excellent experience, and you can really spot annoying personal
Maintain Good Eye Contact
Look people in the eye and speak with confidence. Your eyes reveal
much about you; use them to show interest, confidence, poise, and
sincerity. Relax and take a deep breath. You are relating to another
person, not giving a speech to a large crowd. Look at the interviewer,
and watch for body cues that indicate understanding and rapport.
Use other nonverbal techniques to reinforce your confidence, such
as a firm handshake.
Back to Top
Like any skill, the more you practice the better you will be. Consider
videotaping a practice interview. Most campuses have this service
available through the career center or media department. It is also
very helpful to practice being interviewed by a friend. Rehearse
questions and be prepared. Make certain that you communicate your
skills, abilities, and talents. Answer questions directly and relate
the skills that you have learned. Expect open-ended questions such
as, "What are your strengths?" "What are your weaknesses?"
"Tell me about your best work experience," and "What
are your career goals?" Decide in advance what information
and skills are pertinent to the job and reveal your strengths. For
example, "I learned to get along with a variety of people when
I worked for the park service."
Close the Interview on a Positive Note
Thank the interviewer for his or her time, shake hands, and say
that you are looking forward to hearing from him or her. If you
had an exceptionally pleasant interview, you may consider sending
a personal, handwritten thank-you note.
Follow Up With a Letter
Following up on details is critical for your job search. A follow-up
letter is especially important. It serves as a reminder for the
interviewer and an opportunity for you to thank the interviewer
for the meeting and a chance to make a positive comment about the
job opening and the company. Writing thank-you notes and letters
demonstrates that you have good manners and business etiquette and
that you are organized.
Back to Top