Back to Basics: The Interview

January 19, 2012 by Careerminds

Jennifer Fry
Careerminds Consultant

The third and final installment of our “Back to Basics” series deals with the third step in the job application process: the interview. You’ve composed a great cover letter, paired it with a well-tailored resume, and together, those documents have earned you some face time with the hiring manager– great! But, of course, the work isn’t over, yet.
An interview is the way that employers learn a little more about who you are and how you will fit the job beyond your resume, so some preparation is in order if you want to make a good impression– and of course you do.

To prepare:

  • Conduct a self-assessment. Know your skills, your strengths and weaknesses and consider how they may help or hinder you in fulfilling the position. Then, formulate ways in which to turn those negatives into positives, and/or be able to articulate how you have improved upon them in the past or plan to do so in the future.
  • Research the employer. Learn about the company’s history, mission and culture, and read up on any current news. Presumably, you will have done some research already so as to tailor your resume appropriately, so take advantage of Internet resources to help supplement that knowledge.
  • Practice answering out loud. It’s best to practice you responses to anticipated questions out loud as opposed to on paper. While something may sound good in your head, the written word and the spoken word often differ in terms of formality, among other things, so practicing aloud will allow you to prepared without sounding scripted.
  • Know your resume. Prepare specific examples of skills and experiences that will provide greater detail to those listed on your resume; be sure to provide new or more thorough information than what’s already written. Prepare a few supplemental examples that may not appear on your resume, as well.

The stages of a typical 30-minute interview:

  • Breaking the ice (5 minutes). During this time, introductions are made and more casual conversation gets the interview started.
  • Evaluating qualifications and fit (20 minutes). This is the main portion of the interview, the time during which questions are asked to address your experience, skills and the ways in which you will succeed in the company.
  • Summary and questions (5 minutes). Now is the time for you, the candidate, to voice any questions you may have, so come prepared. Bearing your research in mind, come with 3 to 4 questions to ask– you don’t need to ask them all, and don’t ask anything that has already been answered during the interview or in your research. Also ask for a timeline of the hiring process if the interviewer has not mentioned it. After your questions have been answered, be sure to restate your interest in the position and thank the interview for his/her time.
  • After the interview, take the time to compose a thank you note/e-mail to everyone with whom you spent a significant amount of time, and be sure to follow up, keeping in mind the hiring timeline you were given.

A few additonal tips:

  • First impressions are important in job interviews, so make sure you enter the office looking impressive. Dress appropriately and conduct yourself with poise.
  • Be aware of typical interviewing methods, such as the behavioral interview, and know how to answer those questions well.

Careerminds provides scalable, strategic solutions to organizations seeking affordable, web-based outplacement services. Using a Web 2.0 e-learning platform that delivers affordable, online career transition services, Careerminds provides a high-tech and high-touch blend of on-demand career transition education supported by senior-level career consultants to help displaced workers reenter the workforce quickly.



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