"Tell me something about yourself"
"Why do you think you best qualify for this job?"
These two questions sound deceptively simple and then turn out to be stumbling blocks.
The answers to these questions should be convincing and persuasive. They should be smooth and logical. Rehearsing answers to these other questions, in advance, will give you a feeling of confidence.
Other questions should be answered specifically and factually. When asked, "How long did you work at...?" To answer, "Oh, I left there last year" doesn't really answer and gives the impression that you weren't really listening. How much better to say, "I have worked there during Christmas holidays for the last three years."
Help the Interviewer:
Some interviews are so difficult that an interviewer ends up feeling more like a dentist pulling teeth. An applicant should make it easy for the interviewer to get the information they are seeking. Leading questions can be answered and then followed up with additional information as well. To the question, "Can you handle cash?" You might answer, "Yes, I was bonded by.... to handle their receipts. I also had experience in making change when I worked as a clerk for... On both these jobs it was necessary for me to keep books on the sales I made and to balance the books at the end of the month." You have then told the interviewer of your ability to handle money and you have also indicated that you have had some bookkeeping experience.
A Time to Speak, a Time to...
Naturally, if the interviewer interrupts, allow them to speak. Otherwise, it is advisable for you to talk approximately two minutes, no longer. The interviewer will close the interview when they have enough information about you. Don't attempt to extend it, unless one of your most important qualifications has not been discussed. Then ask to make just one more point---and make it brief! And, remember, the moment you are no longer "in a job interview," you are simply having a pleasant social chat.
Your interview began the moment you walked through the door. Your appearance has already told something about you. And you will say something like this, "Good morning, my name is Jeff Brown. The (school) sent me to apply for the .... (job) that is open." You will then have identified yourself and the position for which you are applying. If you know the interviewer's name, use it when you first speak. "Good morning, Mr. Smith, my name is....
Before the Interview:
- Dress attractively yet conservatively. No jeans, T-shirts & gym shoes.
- Be sure hands, nails, hair, face, shoes and clothes are neat and clean.
- Have school certificates, resumes, letters of recommendations, samples of work, etc. organized to take with you.
- Always carry with you a pen or pencil, money for parking, and other necessities.
- Write down the time and date of your appointment, as well as the full name, address, and phone number of the company. Have this accessible.
- Know where the company is located and how much time you need to get there. Arrive 10 minutes early. Allow extra traveling time--just in case.
- Learn the proper spelling and pronunciation of the interviewer's name.
- Research the company. Read company literature and talk with people familiar with the organization.
- Plan to go to the interview alone.
- Plan to be prepared to ask as well as answer questions. Review your personal and professional qualifications.
- Practice interviewing and get feedback.
- Maintain your psychological well-being. Know who you are and what you've got!
- Get a good night's rest!
During the Interview:
- Arrive on time -- telephone if you are delayed.
- Go to the interview ALONE, not with a friend or relative.
- Present yourself in a friendly, straightforward and confident manner. Cordially let the receptionist know who you are and whom you wish to see.
- Be friendly, polite and considerate of all office personnel whom you meet.
- When introduced to the interviewer(s), shake hands, smile and introduce yourself. Remain standing until you are asked to be seated.
- Make yourself comfortable and retain your poise. Be professional. Don't place your handbag or other articles on the employer's desk.
- Don't smoke, chew gum, or use a heavy fragrance. If you are invited to smoke, it is best to decline.
- Think before answering questions. Be truthful and tell what specific skills you have.
- Stress your interest in the job and your qualifications for it.
- Don't mention personal, domestic, or financial problems.
- Refrain from jokes and unrelated anecdotes.
- Never criticize former employers.
- Use proper grammar and avoid slang, such as "O.K." or "Yeah."
- Maintain eye contact and ask open ended questions.
- Be a good listener.
- Caution: You will usually be told about salary and benefits. Do not press for this information. However, once it is given feel free to ask for more details and a complete explanation. Don't make wages, benefits and vacation the main theme of conversation. Be familiar with the prevailing wage scale for work you seek.
- Involve the interviewer and show your ability to communicate well.
- React to the interviewer's questions and comments. If he or she makes a comment that requires an opinion, a comment, a smile, or a nod -- REACT! Interviewers respond to people who are sensitive to their thoughts, words, and gestures. (Deadpans don't get jobs!)
- Ask intelligent and appropriate questions about the company.
- Express willingness and desire to work hard.
- Show that you like and get along well with people.
- Express your interest in the job at the end of the interview, if you are interested.
- Give a cordial closing remark before you leave. "Thank you for the opportunity to talk with you. I found you and the position interesting."
After the Interview:
- Follow through with a thank you note within a week.
- If you promised to send anything, send it with the thank you note.