Arriving at the Interview
Your interview begins as soon as you arrive at the place of the interview, or even before. You never know the person you are sitting beside on the bus or train on the way to the interview might work for the company!
Maintain a professional attitude even as you leave your house. This will ensure no embarrassing moments before you get to the interview, and will help keep you in a good frame of mind.
Here are some more tips to keep in mind as you head to the interview:
- You may be asked to wait for a little while. Keep calm and take the opportunity to go over your answers to some of the questions you think you might be asked and to think about the questions you would like to ask. Do not listen to your walkman or take the opportunity to do your own manicure. Avoid talking on your mobile phone if possible.
- The opinions of secretaries, receptionists and other employees can often influence an interviewer’s judgement. A favourable or unfavourable comment by them can be a critical factor in helping the interviewer make a decision. So be friendly, polite and courteous from the moment you walk in the door until the moment you leave.
- Know whom you are going to see. Ask for him or her by name.
- Making a good impression in the waiting room is just as important as when the interview begins. Don’t do anything in the waiting room, that you wouldn’t do in the interview.
The Interview Period: The Introduction
The first five minutes often sets the tone for the rest of the job interview. Make a good impression and maintain a relaxed attitude from the beginning, which will help the interview run smoothly.
Here are some suggestions to help you make sure the interview gets off on the right foot:
- Greet the interviewer. Sounds simple but many people forget this basic courtesy.
- Smile. A sincere smile can do a lot to put both of you at ease. Introduce yourself. Don’t assume the interviewer already knows your name.
- Shake hands firmly and warmly.
- Make eye contact when speaking. However, don’t stare the interviewer down either. Maintain eye contact in the same way you would with a friend during a casual conversation.
- Stand until the interviewer asks you to sit down.
- Relax and sit naturally but do not slump in your chair or lean on the interviewer’s desk.
- Be prepared to make small talk about yourself to put both of you at ease.
- Speak in a firm, clear, confident voice. You may have great answers to all the interviewer’s questions, but that won’t matter if your responses are so muffled or timidly expressed that the interviewer can’t hear you or doesn’t believe you.
- Maintain a positive attitude throughout the interview.
- Remember to switch off your mobile phone or have it on silent.
The Exchange of Information
For many of us, the first contact with a prospective employer can be a scary experience. If you find yourself a little tense, don’t worry you are not alone. Almost everyone experiences some anxiety and feelings of insecurity during an interview.
Some points to help you through the interview process:
- Present your resume. “I’ve bought my resume along if you would like to see it.”
- Be prepared to tell the interviewer more about your:
- Education, training and skills;
- Desirable personality traits; and
- Work experience. Use specific examples rather than general statements when giving this information.
- Look at the interviewer and do not fidget.
- Let the employer have control. Answer questions sincerely and completely.
- It’s okay to ask for clarification if you don’t understand a question.
- In fact it is better to ask the interviewer to restate or explain a question and give a good answer than to try to guess what the interviewer wants and give an inappropriate one.
- Don’t clam up. For most questions, the interviewer wants more than a simple “yes” or “no” answers. However, don’t give long-winded answers that contain little relevant information. An average of one to two minutes for an answer is probably about right.
- Be aware of why you want this job – emphasise your good points.
Closing the Interview
You have nearly finished the interview. Everything has gone well, you’ve answered the interviewer’s questions well, asked appropriate questions, and you felt pretty comfortable throughout the whole thing. Or maybe you feel that things didn’t go that well and you’ve got this sinking feeling that you won’t get the job.
Whichever is the case, make sure you leave the interview on a positive note. Many people have left an interview feeling they “blew it” only to be surprised by a phone call from the employer a few days later offering them the job.
You can never be sure what the other person thought of the interview, so it’s a good idea to take every opportunity to leave a positive impression.
Here are a few suggestions of things to do as you leave the interview:
- If the employer asks you to call or return for another interview, make a written note as to date, time and place.
- If the employer does not tell you when to expect further contact, ask when you may call to learn of his/her decision.
- Thank the interviewer for the interview and his/her time.
- Shake hands when you leave.
- Leave promptly when the interview has ended.
- On leaving the outer office, thank the receptionist.