Research, Research, Research.
Be prepared for all interviews by obtaining general information about the career field, specific information about the organization and a clear idea of the job for which you are applying. Make sure you have done your homework and have as much basic information as is available. This information can be obtained through literature which the organization produces, professional publications and journals, and by speaking with those working for or familiar with the organization. Wesleyan alumni are a good source of information; use WesCAN and read the Career Center's Networking Guidelines.
Be sure you can discuss your qualifications, skills and career plans. Know your resume well and be able to expand upon it. Also, practice responses to difficult and/or common interview questions, such as "tell me about yourself". (See our list of typical interview questions)
Dress professionally and appropriately for the position you are seeking. Make sure you feel comfortable in whatever you choose. (See our Etiquette & Attire resources)
Remember basic courtesy.
Be on time or appropriately early for any appointment. If your interview is in an unfamiliar location or office, allow yourself plenty of time to locate the proper building, especially if you are using mass transit. Do not, however, arrive in the office an hour early and expect to wait. You will only make yourself and those working there uncomfortable.
Greet the interviewer with a firm, confident handshake and remember his or her name. Strive to be pleasant and polite, even in cases where your interviewer is not. Refrain from habits which may be annoying to some during an interview, i.e. chewing gum, etc. Also try to control nervous habits such as foot-tapping. Smile and maintain eye-contact.
Convey through your voice and body language interest in the job and sufficient energy to get the job done. There is no need to speak in a monotone or sit rigidly if your natural style is more animated. Enthusiasm is especially important in on-campus interviews, where a recruiter may ask a dozen people the same questions at half-hour intervals.
Questions you have for the interviewer are your main vehicle for showing your enthusiasm. Before your interview, outline the things you hope to learn about the organization and your role within it. Ensure you will not come up blank when asked (as you will be) "Do you have any questions?" Salary and benefit questions, however, are best left to later interviews.
What special skills are required for this position?
What are the major responsibilities of the department?
Why is this position open?
What would you like done differently by the next person who fills the position?
What projects or tasks would you like to see accomplished in the next five or six months?
What are some of the longer-term objectives that you would like completed?
Where could a person go within this organization who is successful in this position and within what time frame?
What is the procedure for establishing organizational and individual goals?
What criteria are used for a performance review?
What qualities do you look for in a new employee?
What is the company’s philosophy regarding training?
How would you describe your organization’s management style?
Will there be a second interview?
When can I expect to hear from you?
During the course of the interview, listen carefully to the information which is shared with you. The interview will often generate more questions from a candidate’s perspective. By asking questions based upon the interviewer’s comments, you demonstrate good listening skills.
Remain poised and confident.
If every other rule slips your mind, be sure to remember this one.
Interviewers are not always human resource professionals and may be as nervous or uncertain as you. Being self-assured, or at least appearing self-assured, can be a major asset.
Some employers conduct "stress" interviews in which they try to see how you react under pressure. They might ask a series of difficult questions, repeat a question, challenge your answers or appear not to listen. No matter which particular challenge you are faced with, strive to keep your confidence up.
Silence is the most common stress producing occurrence during an interview. Try not to chatter needlessly if silence is used. Break the silence only to ask a question or volunteer relevantinformation. On the other hand, if your interviewer is obviously uncertain of what to ask, you may want to direct the interview and present some information you feel should be discussed.
If you have prepared well, including assessing your own values and skills, you can trust your responses. You are evaluating the organization, as well as being evaluated by them.
Do not try to second-guess interviewers and tell them what you think they may want to hear. Present your qualifications factually and fully. An interview is not the place for false modesty. However, take pains not to exaggerate or embellish your list of accomplishments and never falsify information.
Answer the questions.
The key to answering the questions asked is listening to them. As it is difficult to listen well while nervous, you will have to put aside your nervousness. Not answering the questions is very insulting to and frustrating for the interviewer and can hardly be productive for you.
If the questions asked do not allow you to bring up your special skills or qualifications, you may choose to steer the conversation to the topics you would like to discuss. But first, answer the questions asked of you and do so politely. If the question is about something you would rather not discuss at length, answer briefly and move on to another topic. Be careful not to waste considerable interview time on irrelevancies, such as conversation about the weather, etc.
You may not see the purpose of every question you are asked. Your task, however, is not to judge the interviewer as an interviewer, but to evaluate the job being discussed. Showing impatience or annoyance is not in your best interest.
Being positive in responding to any question is crucial. Even questions asked negatively should be answered on a positive note. Emphasize that which is good about yourself, your previous employment and schooling. Being positive in responding to any question is crucial.
Take the time you need to formulate coherent, intelligent answers. Don't agonize over an answer, but do think before you speak.
Have examples for the skills you claim.
Your arguments in your favor will be much more powerful if you can back them up with objective facts. If you claim leadership, for example, be sure you have some means of proving that quality.
Don't forget your sense of humor.
In many cases, it is your personality which gets you further interviews and/or your job. Relax, be natural and just try to be yourself.
End the interview naturally.
Try to sense when the interview is drawing to a close and do not attempt to prolong it. Be sure before you leave your interview you understand the next step in the process. Do you need to furnish more information, such as a transcript or reference letters? Will your interviewer call or write you and if so, when is it likely you will be contacted? Are you responsible for initiating contact?
Send a Thank You note.
Be sure to thank the interviewer for his or her time. After the interview, send a brief thank you note to highlight something said, reaffirm your interest or mention something which you forgot to bring up during the interview. Similarly, if after the interview you are no longer interested in employment with that organization, let them know in a timely and cordial manner. See our Thank You Note guidelines.