Interview Tips

There are three main steps in the interview process: preparation, the interview itself, and follow-up.PL offers these suggestions for handling each step well, and some predictors of interview success or failure.

Preparation

  • Know the exact place and time of the interview, the interviewer's full name and the correct pronunciation, and his or her title.
  • Research pertinent facts about the company, such as annual sales revenue, main businesses and products, and locations. A visit to the company's web site or a short web search often provide this information.
  • Be ready to discuss how the job might impact your immediate and longer-term career growth.
  • Determine 6 to 10 questions you want to ask in the interview. This will help you understand the company better, and it lets the interviewer know you are serious about the job.
  • Review the job description, your resume, and cover letter.
  • If appropriate, prepare a portfolio of your best work. This is expected in visual arts, writing, or editing. Programmers can use screen captures, diagrams, and short descriptions of applications or other projects they've handled.
  • Rehearse answering some questions related to your resume or the career field that you think might be asked.

The interview

  • Wear proper business attire, be enthusiastic, and greet the interviewer by name, with a solid handshake and a smile.
  • Wait until you are offered a chair before sitting. Sit upright, and look alert and interested. Focus your attention on the interviewer at all times.
  • Follow the interviewer's leads, but try to get him/her to describe the job and duties early, so you can apply your abilities to the position throughout the interview.
  • Don't smoke, even if the interviewer does and offers you a cigarette. Do not chew gum.
  • Remember that the interviewer is the mechanism the potential employer uses to determine a "right match."
  • Don't forget that the interview also is crucial for you to determine whether the job is right for you. It may turn out not to be a good fit.
  • Don't lie, or make unnecessary derogatory remarks about your present or former employers. Limit your comments, if you are asked, to those necessary to adequately convey why you left or are seeking different employment.
  • Don't over-answer the questions, especially if the interviewer directs the discussion into politics or other controversial issues.

Follow-up

  • Within one day, be sure to send a thank you letter to the interviewer. If you were interviewed by two people, send two different letters. If you were interviewed by several people, you can send one letter to the main person supervising the hiring process. Thank him/her for the interview and for the other interviews, and ask that your appreciation be extended to the other interviewers.
  • All letters should mention the name of the position and interview date.
  • Indicate that you are still interested in the position (or not, if that is the case).
  • If possible, mention something you learned or discussed in the interview. Let the interviewer know you can be reached by phone or email, and list your email address and phone number.

Predictors of success

  • Ability to communicate clearly
  • Demonstrated teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving skills
  • Career-related work experience
  • Knowledge of the hiring organization
  • Ask good questions
  • Flexibility and enthusiasm
  • People skills
  • Professional appearance
  • Ambitious and motivated

Predictors of failure

  • Lack of qualifications
  • Inability to communicate clearly
  • Small evidence of prior achievement
  • Lack of knowledge about or interest in the organization
  • Unwillingness to relocate
  • Appear overbearing, overaggressive, conceited
  • Too much emphasis on money and benefits
  • Failure to follow-up