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Preparing for the Interview

The interview provides an opportunity for the employer to get to know you and determine if you are a good fit for their company. It also gives the applicant the opportunity to "market themselves" and learn as much as they can about the position and the company. Remember that first impressions make a statement and that you do not have a second chance to make a first impression!

Before the Interview

Research the Company: Find out all you can and be able to discuss products, services, etc. Visit the company's website, obtain annual reports if available and/or talk with employees if at all possible. Know what position you are interviewing for and obtain a job description.

Gather Materials You May Need: Bring extra copies of your resume, a list of references, letters of recommendation, work samples or portfolio if applicable.

Make a list of questions you want to ask.
Rehearse answers to questions you expect to be asked.

During the Interview

Here are some key things to remember on the day of your interview:

  • Be on time: arrive 15-20 minutes early
  • Dress professionally
  • Relax and be yourself!  You are interviewing the organization as much as they are interviewing you
  • Greet the interviewer by name, smile, and give a firm handshake.  Be friendly and show your enthusiasm

Tips for the interview:

  • Keep the atmosphere pleasant, don't talk negatively about others or past employers
  • Speak clearly using complete sentences and avoid one-worded answers
  • Face the interviewer in a relaxed, open manner.  Maintain eye contact and be aware of your body language

When answering questions:

  • Focus on your strengths, skills, and qualifications
  • Sell yourself!  Explain what personal attributes you can bring to the organization and how the organization would benefit from hiring you
  • Use the STAR Technique
    • Situation: One or two sentences to set up the background of the event
    • Task: Describe the specific problem or event and your responsibility
    • Action: What was your response to the situation
    • Results: What was the outcome.  Point out any successes and what you learned

After the Interview

Send a thank you note addressed to the interviewer within 24 hours. A handwritten note is acceptable; however, a typed personal letter is preferred. If an employer asks you to correspond through email, that is a signal that they would accept your thank you via email.

If you have not heard from the company after the expected date, contact the company by phone to ask if the position has been filled. If you don't get the job but are very interested in working for the company, you might want to express your interest in future openings and check back periodically to find out if any new openings are available.

If the position was not the right one for you, don't despair. Review your job search plan and your presentation skills. Get help if necessary and continue your job search.