Unit 1: Before the Interview
In this unit we help you prepare for a professional job interview. While most people think about job interviews in terms of how well you can convince a potential employer that you are the best person to fill their job opening, remember that the interview is also your opportunity to learn more about the company where you might work, and ask questions about your future job responsibilities. After you have had several successful job interviews, we hope you have the opportunity to choose among several job offers.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 2 hours.
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
- describe the preparation stages for the interview including some pitfalls to avoid and suggestions to promote yourself on the day of the interview;
- explain strategies for presenting a favorable first impression to the interviewer, including dressing appropriately;
- explain why research is an important part of interview preparation;
- describe strategies for researching a company;
- list examples of interview questions you might ask your interviewer; and
- describe some activities to follow up after the interview.
1.1: Put Your Best Foot Forward
Your parents, teachers, and advisers have probably told you how important it is to create a positive first impression. What does this mean during the job interview process? Does it refer to what you wear, what you say, or how you present yourself? For all of these, the answer is yes. In this section, you will learn that it is not enough to give information about your interests and qualifications for a job. To leave a favorable and lasting impression, you must also communicate your interest in the position through your appearance, body language, and your interactions with the interviewer.
This chapter provides a checklist to follow when preparing for an interview, and explains how to convey professionalism in your appearance.
As you read this chapter, pay particular attention to the section on what to do during the interview. This will help you understand how your appearance and preparation indicate your respect for the interviewer and your interest in the position. Employers believe that most job candidates fail to prepare properly for their interviews. You should consult multiple resources when researching a company and a position. Remember to clearly communicate what you learned from your research to the interviewer.
Read this section for some useful tips on researching an organization, preparing for and answering questions, and what you should consider after your interview.
This article offers suggestions on how to research a company, dress appropriately, prepare for a job interview, and ask questions. The author explains that it is okay to respond that you do not have an answer to a question. To make a good first impression, it is important to arrive on time for your interview.
1.2: Dress for Success for Your Industry
What should you wear to your job interview? Employers notice when you have tried to dress appropriately to make a good first impression. In a subtle way, your effort shows you are conscientious and will make similar efforts to impress if you are hired. How you present yourself is especially important if you are applying for a job where you will be meeting with customers and clients.
Your interview outfit should be different from what you will be required to wear for the job. Dressing appropriately requires focusing on the social norms, values, ideals, and expectations of the workplace. It may be helpful to ask an expert to help you plan your wardrobe for certain types of jobs. Read the section on using a stylist for options that range from budget-friendly to extravagantly expensive.
This article gives tips on how to look your best for an interview, and how to dress to make a positive first impression.
1.3: Preparing for the Interview
If you have taken our course on resume writing, PRDV102, you know that you should spend some time to research and plan how to showcase your qualifications to a potential employer. An invitation to an interview gives you the opportunity to present yourself as the most desirable candidate for a position opening. Whether or not you receive an offer or choose to accept one, the interview experience will give you the confidence to pursue future career opportunities. During the interview, you should display your knowledge about the company, personal employment goals, professional strengths, and weaknesses if you are asked. Preparation is key.
Read this article to learn how to make an interview count. Employers often mention interpersonal skills and personal characteristics when thay are asked why they decided not to hire a certain candidate. The author lists some of these factors, most of which are almost always within your control. After you read, revisit the article in section 1.3 on what to do before, during, and after an interview for some activities to help you practice and how to answer open-ended questions. Your candidacy does not end when you leave the interview; you can increase your chances of being called back with an appropriate follow-up strategy.
Read this article for more on how to prepare for an interview and research a company. Pay special attention to the discussion on references. Be sure to tell your referees that you will be interviewing, and that they should be prepared to receive a call. Think about the interview process from an employer's point of view, and pay attention to some of the open-ended questions employers often ask. Think about how you would formulate effective responses to these questions.
At the end of the interview, your interviewer will probably ask you if you have any questions. This is a time to express your interest in the job and your motivation to work for the company. This is also your opportunity to learn about the company's culture, the challenges of the position, the training process, and next steps. When you prepare for questions you might ask your interviewer, do not ask questions just for the sake of asking. Make sure you are really interested in the interviewer's responses.