Interviewing for a Job

Preparation can increase the opportunity

Making a good first impression is still rule number one when it comes to interviewing for a job. This becomes more important if the company is looking at other candidates for the position or if the job involves a great degree of interpersonal communication skills.

The "Occupational Outlook Handbook" from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers a number of tips on interviewing, including how to prepare and how to dress.

To prepare for the interview, learn as much as you can about the organization and the job you are applying for. Think of a few questions you want to ask your interviewer about the company and the position.

Review your qualifications for the job and your resume; be prepared to speak about why you are a good fit for the job. The interviewer is also likely to ask question about you - your hobbies, education and goals. You may want to practice answering questions with a friend.

Be early for the interview, and bring copies of your resume and references. Make sure you are well-groomed and dressed appropriately. According to "Employment Interviewing," by Olivia Crosby, available from the Federal Citizen Information Center, you should "dress as you would for an important day on the job, like a meeting with a supervisor or a presentation to a client."

If you are unsure how to dress, error on the conservative side. In most cases, men and women should wear a conservatively colored suit, and women should make sure their skirt is below the knee. Make sure that your clothes are pressed and fit well.

Don't forget your shoes - they should be polished and closed-toe. Limit your accessories and avoid heavy cologne or makeup. Make sure your hair is neat and trimmed.

When you meet your interviewer, shake his or her hand. Remember to be polite and don't use slang; the interview is your first impression on this potential employer.

During the interview, try to relax. Answer questions promptly and try to be concise. Try to focus on your strengths while answering questions, but do not lie. Listen carefully to the interviewer's questions; if you need clarification, don't be afraid to ask for it.

Near the end of the interview, the employer will usually ask if you have any questions. This is a good opportunity to show your interest in the company. Employers will expect you to have some questions ready. Stay away from questions related to salary or job benefits. Save them for later. Appropriate questions have to do with the company and the specific job that you are applying for. Research.educationamerica.net suggests these questions as good examples of what to ask:
  • What would be the primary duties initially?
  • How would you describe the management style of the company as a whole?
  • Tell me more about how this job fits into the whole picture?
  • What is the most difficult or challenging part of this job?
  • Why was this position created?
  • What growth opportunities are there in the organization?
Once the interview is over, you will want to close on a positive note. If the job is one you want, be prepared to say so in a clear, convincing manner. Thank the interviewer for his or her time, regardless of how things went. Ask when a decision will be made without making it sound like an ultimatum.

Write a follow-up letter, and send a thank-you note as soon as possible after the meeting. The letter should express gratitude for the meeting, reinforce your interest in the job and recap the strongest points recommending you for the position.

Becoming strong at interviewing for a job, like most things, takes practice and hard work. Still, there is no substitute for good, solid preparation, which will increase your chances of securing a job offer.

Sources: jobweb.com; Education America Network ; The Bureau of Labor Statistics' "Occupational Outlook Handbook,"; "Employment Interviewing," by Olivia Crosby, available from the Federal Citizen Information Center.


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