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Guide to Effective Interviewing-Part I

The goal during an interview is to create an impression in the mind of the employer that you are the best candidate for the position. To accomplish this, you need to appreciate that the concept of a best candidate is purely subjective. You may think your present experience, your education, your good looks, or your charming personality will win this employer over-don’t count on it. When it comes to interviewing, take nothing for granted.
Little things matter…

Having good responses to the questions asked is of course paramount to the outcome. However, in addition to responding well, there are a whole host of other little things that occur in an interview that can make the difference between getting an offer or being rejected. These little things are not to be overlooked as they have been the undoing of many a candidate.

  • Write down the time and location of the interview. Do not rely on your memory-when we are nervous, it is possible to forget even the simplest of things. Get directions even if you think you know where you are going. Not knowing about a sudden road closing or best place to park can set you back and make you late. Being late is the kiss of death to an interview. Never let this happen.
  • Make sure you know the name of the person or persons you will be meeting. Get the spelling so that you can write your thank you note(s).
  • In addition to extra résumés and your list of references, bring a pen and small notebook with you. Conceal the notebook in your briefcase or other business-like bag. Use it to jot down information the interviewer may give you, such as additional people for you to contact. Use discretion in taking out your notebook as it is not proper to take notes during the interview. Many candidates do not routinely carry a notebook but I strongly recommend you do. It is quite embarrassing to have to ask the employer for writing materials. It conveys the message that you are not always prepared.
  • Immediately after the interview, use your notebook to write down everything you can remember about what transpired. This will help you in subsequent interactions with this employer as well as with general interview preparedness.
  • Proper etiquette is that the employer will extend his or her hand first for a handshake. If your interviewer seems to have missed the moment, it is okay for you to extend your hand first. Shake with a firm grip. A weak handshake is a real turnoff. Wait for your interviewer to sit down or offer you a chair before seating yourself.
  • As much as possible, control your body language. Smile as frequently as is appropriate. Be aware of your facial expressions, leg movements, and shoulder hunches. Sit up straight in your chair and concentrate on your posture. Look alert and interested at all times. Show that you can be a wide-awake intelligent listener as well as a good talker. Maintain good eye contact. Feel free to use your hands to express yourself. Avoid nervous habits such as playing with rings, touching your hair, or tapping your foot.

Do your homework…
You MUST learn as much as you can about the company/organization you are interviewing with prior to your interview. It is not enough to have a general idea of what they do-you should plan on doing some true investigative work. You will use your research during the course of the interview to show the employer that you know something about their organization. If you can offer a sincere compliment about their products or services, do so. Your research will also help you field any questions specifically designed to see if you have taken such an initiative.

What employers want…

A survey of employers generated the following list of attributes they sought in employment candidates:

1. Specific competencies (industry knowledge, financial analysis skills, computer expertise, etc)
2. Enthusiasm
3. Strong work ethic
4. Initiative
5. Excellent communication skills
6. Creative thinking
7. Superior interpersonal skills
8. Flexibility to adapt well to new ideas and procedures
9. Honesty
10. Good judgment
11. Independent performers

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