Interviews

It is very important to make a good impression in a job interview. Here are the top reasons given by hiring managers and human resource personnel for not hiring an applicant:

  • Poor personal appearance
  • Application form or résumé is incomplete or sloppy
  • Overly aggressive behavior
  • Lack of tact and courtesy, maturity, interest and enthusiasm
  • Nervousness or lack of confidence and poise
  • Failure to ask questions about the job
  • Responding vaguely to questions
  • No eye contact with the interviewer
  • No genuine interest in the company or job
  • Lack of planning for career; no purpose and no goals
  • Over-emphasis on money
  • Unwillingness to start at the bottom
  • Negative attitude about past employers
  • No sense of humor
  • Arriving late for the interview
  • Failure to express appreciation for interviewer's time

 

Be prepared for the phone call to set up an interview or to be screened by a telephone interview.

Have your resume by the telephone! If employers ask questions, your resume will be right there to help you highlight and summarize your skills. Often you will be busy and caught up with what you were doing right before you answered the phone and may blank out on what your skills are, so use your resume as a "reminder" tool. It's a great source to refer back to at a moment's notice.

Pen and paper should also be available near the phone. When employers call, don't ask them to hold while you run around looking for a pen. Have materials ready to take notes, get contact names (first and last names) and correct spelling, write down detailed driving directions and note the date and time of the interview. A calendar nearby will also help prevent scheduling conflicts. Remind your family, siblings, and roommates that the pen and paper are there to take good messages for you. While you are job searching it is not the time for young children to answer the phone.

Answer your telephone. Some employers may not leave a message. Make certain the voice mail message on your home phone and cell phone (if you listed both numbers on your resume) are professional and identifies you so employers know they reached the correct person. This is not the time for your child to record a message or to play music. Remind your family members and roommates to be professional when answering the phone, as well.

Call employers back the same day! When an employer does call and has to leave a message, respond to that message immediately.

The first 30 seconds can make or break the connection between two people when they meet for the first time. So the next time you're on an interview, keep in mind that the interviewer may be drawing conclusions about you before you've even started the real interview.

What you're wearing has an impact on the first impression you make. A decision is made in the first Dress To Impress Small five minutes, and the hiring manager spends the next half-hour trying to defend that decision. Dress professionally and conservatively. This will show the potential employer that you are serious about the position. Even if you are aware that the company dresses casually on the job, dress up for the interview unless you are specifically told by the employer to dress otherwise.

Rules for men and women:

  • Conservative appearance
  • Cover tattoos
  • Hide/remove body piercing(s), if possible
  • Do not chew gum
  • Do not wear a hat or sunglasses
  • Do not visibly carry a cell phone or beeper
  • Hair is neat and clean – conservative in style
  • Freshly bathed/showered
  • Wear deodorant
  • Clothes should be ironed – no wrinkles
  • Shoes in good condition – polished
  • Pay attention to details – no strings, stains, lint, etc
  • No flashy jewelry
  • Teeth brushed, fresh breath – do not smoke before or during an interview
  • Fingernails neat, clean, and trimmed
  • Do not wear cologne or perfume – or, apply a very small amount
  • Carry a padfolio: resume, references, paper, pen

Rules for men:

  • Dress professionally
    • Wear a suit, if you have one OR
    • Nice dress pants (such as Dockers) with sport coat, dress shirt, tie OR
    • Nice dress pants with dress shirt (long-sleeve, button-up dress shirt)
    • Tip: wear a plain white t-shirt underneath dress shirt to help with sweat induced by nervousness
    • Dress socks – should match shoes or dress pants (NO white sports socks)
    • Belt – should match pants or shoes
    • Dress shoes – polished
  • Limit jewelry – wedding ring and watch; NO earrings or necklaces
  • Facial hair is freshly shaved – mustache and beard neatly trimmed
  • Shave hair on the back on the neck

Rules for women:

  • Dress professionally
    • Blazer and knee length skirt (NO mini-skirts) with nylons/stockings OR
    • Blazer and dress pants with dress socks OR
    • Dress pants and dress shirt (not “loud” or low cut) with dress socks
    • Dress shoes – low or medium pumps or flats – closed-toe shoes (NO sandals or spiked-heels)
  • Limit jewelry – bracelets, rings, earrings should be conservative
  • Neutral nail polish or do not use nail polish
  • Subtle make-up

Use a black or blue pen and use your best handwriting/print.

  1. Full name, current address, phone number
  2. Social security number (SSN)
  3. Driver's license number and state of issue
  4. Whether or not you've been convicted of a crime by civil or military courts
    1. Describe: Nature of the offense, Date of conviction, Location where convicted, Disposition (sentence, probation, etc.)
  5. Home addresses for the past ten years
  6. Date you're available for work
    1. If you must give your current employer notice two weeks in advance, write Two weeks notice.
    2. Otherwise, write the date on which you know for sure you can start work.
  7. Military service. Bring your discharge papers, just in case they ask to see them.
    1. Entry and discharge dates, Type of discharge, Branch, Occupational specialization, Special training received and dates, Last rank
    2. You might be asked if you're a veteran of a war, such as Vietnam. This is for affirmative action programs, not discrimination.
  8. Position desired, first and second choices
  9. Geographic preference, first and second choices (if applicable)
  10. Salary desired. If you want to temporarily sidestep the salary issue so you can negotiate, write negotiable, open or competitive.
  11. How you heard about the job
    1. If an employee referred you, get the employee's work contact information in advance and include it on the job application.
  12. Education and training - graduate school, college, vocational/trade school, high school
    1. Start and end dates, School names and addresses, Majors and minors, Degrees earned and dates
  13. Qualifications/Skills
    1. Summarize skills that would fit the position; i.e. Typing WPM, Software knowledge, Technical skills
  14. Professional license, memberships, or special skills
    1. Names of organizations, Dates of membership, Addresses and phone numbers
  15. Whether or not you are authorized to work in the country. If you have a work visa or weren't a citizen at birth, be sure to bring relevant paperwork.
  16. Three or four professional references
    1. Name, Title, Business addresses, Phone number, Relationship and length of time known
  17. Whether or not you've previously applied for work or worked at the same company. If so,
    1. Dates of application or employment; Divisions, units and departments for which you worked, Names of supervisors
  18. Work history - list in order with the most current first; include employment for the past 10 years and include all military history
    1. Names of employers
    2. Full address and phone numbers
    3. Job title and summary of job duties
    4. Number of hours worked - part time or full time
    5. Start and end dates. Month/year to month/year. Write present for the ending date at your current employer.
    6. Last or beginning and ending salaries. If you want to temporarily sidestep salary or don't think it's any of their business, leave it blank or write competitive.
    7. Supervisor names
    8. May your supervisor be contacted? yes or no? If no, why not?
    9. Reasons for leaving. Be careful with this one. Never criticize a former employer. Instead, write something generic like career advancement
  19. Special accomplishments or awards - this can be from work and/or training
  20. List any additional information you would like them to consider
  21. Read the Applicant's Certification and Agreement. Sign the form and enter a date.

Here are a few important interview do's and don'ts:

DO:

  1. Research the company prior to going to the interview. Do And Dont Small
  2. Get directions/map so you know where you are going for the interview. You can use mapquest to get directions. drive to the site as a practice run at least one day prior to the interview so you know where you are going and where to park. if you are going by bus, make sure you check the bus schedule.
  3. Know who you are interviewing with - get first and last name of the person or people
  4. Dress appropriately. Click on Dress for Success above to get tips on what to wear to an interview.
  5. Be prepared - bring several copies of your résumé, pen and paper, references, social security card, picture ID/drivers license, and "cheat sheet" for applications
    1. Employment info: past and current company names, addresses, phone numbers, and dates of employment
    2. Education: college/university names, addresses, phone numbers, GPA (if 3.0 or higher), and dates of attendance
  6. Arrive ten minutes early. This will prevent you from being late and it will give you an opportunity to observe the work site/environment.
  7. Smile and have good eye contact.
  8. Use a firm handshake when introducing yourself to the interviewer.
  9. Create a good first impression. Employers generally make their decision in the first five minutes. Look around the interviewer's office or company for things you may have in common to start a conversation.
  10. Sell yourself. Be motivated. Remember your principle selling points, transferable skills, and why you want the job.
  11. Give specific answers.
  12. ALWAYS ask questions about the company and position, especially when asked if you have any questions. Have questions prepared! Click on Sample Questions for the Interviewer below for help.
  13. Ask for business cards from everyone you interview with so you can send them a thank you letter.
  14. Follow up the interview with a thank you letter.

DON'T:

  1. Be late for an appointment. If you cannot avoid being late, call the employer to let him/her know!
  2. Wear “flashy” or “casual” clothing.
  3. Wear perfume/cologne
  4. Smoke before going into the interview.
  5. Take a second person to the interview.
  6. Chew gum, fiddle with purse or hair, fidget in chair, tap fingers, or use other annoying mannerisms.
  7. Give one or two word answers, and don’t over-answer questions.
  8. Be critical of past employers.
  9. Discuss controversial subjects.
  10. Act desperate for the job
  11. Ask about pay or benefits -- let the interviewer bring up salary and benefits first.
  12. Flatly refuse a position on the interview. The employer may be willing to modify the physical aspects of the job or raise the salary. Keep your opportunities open. Something else may open up within the company.
  13. Use slang words and/or street talk. And be careful of using “um,” “like,” or “uh.”
  14. Be dishonest – including not being forthcoming with relevant information, embellishing accomplishments, hiding jobs or leading the process on with no intention of ever following through.

Here are a few typical questions you may get a job interview. It is a good idea to go through these before the interview and think of good answers:

Sample Interview Questions

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • How would you describe yourself?
  • What do you consider to be your greatest strength? Weakness?
  • What are your long term and short term goals?
  • How do you determine or evaluate success?
  • What led you to choose your career field?
  • What college subjects did you like best? Why?
  • What college subjects did you like least? Why?
  • Do you think your grades represent your abilities?
  • How would you rate your attendance while in school?
  • What are your educational goals?
  • Why are you interested in working for our company?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • What do you know about the position I am interviewing you for?
  • How will this job fit in your career plans?
  • In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our company?
  • What other positions have you had or what skills, experience, and training do you have that make you qualified for the job?
  • How do you work under pressure?
  • What two or three things are most important to you in your job?
  • Do you like your job? Why? Why are you looking to leave your job?
  • What are you particularly good at in your present position? Why?
  • What were your major responsibilities at your present/past job?
  • During your career, which position did you like best? Least? Why?
  • What role do you typically play on a team?
  • What can you do for us that someone else can’t do?
  • What motivates you?
  • How do you best motivate others?
  • What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction? Why?
  • What awards or honors have you received?
  • Why should I hire you?

Behavioral Interview Questions

  • How have you demonstrated initiative?
  • How have you motivated yourself to complete a task that you did not want to do?
  • Can you tell me about a complex problem you solved? Explain the process you utilized.
  • What leadership positions have you held? Describe your leadership style.
  • Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills.
  • Tell me about the riskiest decision you have made.
  • Walk me through a situation where you had to research and analyze the results for one of your classes.
  • Describe a situation where class assignments and work or personal activities conflicted. How did you prioritize? How did you manage your time? What was the outcome?
  • Describe a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty to get a job done.
  • Give me an example of a time in which you had to make a split second decision.
  • Give me an example of a time when something you tried to accomplish failed.
  • Can you tell me about an occasion where you needed to work with a group to get a job done?
  • Describe when you or a group that you were a part of was in danger of missing a deadline. What did you do?
  • Tell me about a situation when you had to learn something new in a short time. How did you proceed?
  • Tell me about a challenge that you successfully met.
  • What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me an example.
  • Tell me about a time when you missed an obvious solution to a problem.
  • Tell me about a time when your work was criticized and how you reacted to it.
  • Tell me about a time you made a mistake. What did you learn from it?

Questions for the interviewer should be used to uncover critical information about the position, organization and/or people. You should always have questions prepared to ask. This will show you are interested and serious about the position. *Do not bring up salary or benefits. Always let the employer bring it up first!

Position

  • Why is this position open?
  • Could you tell me a little more about the duties and responsibilities of this position?
  • What do you want to accomplish through this position?
  • Can you tell me what a typical day is like in this position?
  • How is success measured in this position?
  • What skills do I need to succeed at this position?
  • What type of training will be provided?
  • What is the most challenging aspect of this job?
  • Could you tell me briefly about the primary people I will be interfacing with?
  • What problems have you seen in this position previously?
  • What are you looking for in terms of strengths/qualifications?
  • May I talk with the co-workers?
  • Please describe your management style.

Organization

  • Do you often promote from within?
  • How do you encourage employees to succeed?
  • Who do you view as your company's biggest competition?
  • What is the work environment like here?
  • What are your organizations strengths and weaknesses?
  • Can you tell me more about the organization? Product? Co-workers?
  • Could you show me where this position fits into your organization?
  • What are the various internal career paths for individuals starting in this position?
  • How do you measure the effectiveness and contributions of employees?
  • What is the company's anticipated growth or downsizing?
  • Are there any plans for mergers or acquisitions?
  • When was the last corporate reorganization?
  • Please describe the corporate culture.
  • How do you encourage employees to keep current in this changing market?

Please wait. This will only take a few seconds.