12 Steps to a Successful Interview

It happened! That’s right, the dream job called and offered an interview! In an instant, your dream career flashes before your eyes culminating in loud applause. But reality brought you back to the present. Now you need to consider those interview strategies and figure just how to interview for this job.

Prepare to Succeed
Every area of life teaches a similar lesson: those who prepare generally do better than those who do not. For an interview, this means doing some homework.

* Start by going back over the information about the job and thinking about how you fit each part of the job description.
* Write out the thoughts about how you meet the job description.
* Take the time to rework portions of your resume to highlight skills or experiences which support you as a good candidate.
* Prepare an interview folder where you place two more resumes than the number of interviewers you were told to expect AND your thoughts about the job. (Bring your own notes to an interview and watch interviewers be impressed.)

Know Answers to Common Interview Questions
People who interview ask certain questions very regularly.
“Why are you looking for work?”
“What made you apply at our company?”
“How does your past work make you fit here?”

Such simple questions take little effort to search out and are worth preparing to answer. Not only does this make you more comfortable but often leads to more understanding of both the company and yourself. mind, everything you do is being judged because they don’t know you.  First impressions are crucial (…and these are usually made in the first 15 seconds). You need to show them you would be a great hire.

Everything about you will be on display. Your hair, what you wear, voice, body language, eye contact, even the way you shake their hand.  This is the person that is going to hire you so don’t fall short.

Unfortunately, too many job candidates blow their interview opportunities wasting all that time and effort. This is not what you want. Never assume that the job offer is “in the bag” simply because you were invited for an interview.  Here are the steps to successful  interview.

Let’s help you find a great job in Knoxville.  But first – remember this very wise statement:

Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing.- Theodore Roosevelt

Study the Company
Companies research their potential employees and candidates should take the time to do the same. Company websites provide an abundance of great information and often devote pages to telling about the company’s founding, culture, and other core values. At a minimum, these pages deserve review. For the truly dedicated, take it a step further and do some web searches for the company and their key products to learn more about what the rest of the world thinks. Another option, take a few minutes to call the company switchboard and ask the receptionist if they could spare a few minutes to tell a candidate about the company from their perspective.

Research the Person Who Will Interview You
Speaking of calling and talking to the company, one of the best methods to research the person who will ask your interview questions: talk to the receptionist or their secretary. People working with the interviewer know that person’s day to day activities and preferences, not just the glossy portions they desire to put out to the world through on-line services like LinkedIn. Sure, check LinkedIn and the company web page to see if they offer a biography and details, but getting information from someone who works with the person is immensely beneficial.

Plan Enough Time to Get There
Bad impressions 101: Arriving late to an interview. This negative starting point becomes nearly insurmountable. Almost all interview strategies benefit from taking the time to research how to make sure you’re there on time. Perhaps even take the time to travel there before hand if the trip seems particularly long or potentially confusing. Be prepared with a contact number easily available during your trip in case something unexpected comes up.

Show Interest While Avoiding Awkwardness
Companies want to hire people interested in what the company does. Employees spend hours at a time with their coworkers and will, on some basis, represent the company with people outside the company. The hiring manager considers whether a person seems interested as a factor.

Many of the steps already covered demonstrate your interest, but additional possibilities include:

Make sure your cell phone will not be a distraction. Shut it off or put it on vibrate. If people count on you for emergencies, line up someone else for the duration of the interview who can answer their phone.

People assume smiles and a bubbly attitude mean “interest” but these may work against you. Remain positive without moving into the awkward zone.

A simple technique for showing interest: ask questions about the interviewer’s opinions about the company or the tasks and follow-up their answer with a clarifying question or two. Yes, it means you don’t talk about your skills and experiences, but it shows the interviewer that you are interested in them.

Beware of Over-Sharing
Too much information causes laughter in movies and television shows, but almost always hurts your interview chances. Most companies train their hiring managers how to interview and include a list of topics and interview questions to avoid. The topics primarily focus on protected classes such as ethnicity, race, having children, religion, and such. However, other topics include being overly negative about another employer or manager, minimizing the desire to work by talking too much about your free time activities, and asking too many questions about vacation time. Remain conscious of the impression your comments make.

Watch Body Language: Yours and Theirs
People tell more with their body language than you might realize. Offer a firm handshake. Keep eye contact throughout the interview while avoiding a staring contest by looking away from time to time. Most interviews involve sitting, so sit up straight and keep your hands in sight. If you tend to fidget, bring a pen and paper and take notes to disguise this nervous habit.

Make a List of Good Questions
Just as you can bring notes about your past experience, bringing questions to ask is permitted and beneficial. In your research and other preparations, jot down questions about the company, its history, and how you might fit into their environment. Obviously you want to know about pay and benefits, but keep these questions for later in the interview or for the second interview.

Keep the Interview Professional
Maintain a professional demeanor during your interview. Use your manners. Be polite from the time you approach the building until you have left since you never can tell who might be walking next to you. Avoid joking! Jokes require an understanding of what the other person finds humorous as well as socially acceptable.

Know What Happens After the Interview Ends
As the interview progresses, make a point to get contact information and clarify what to expect after you leave the interview. Will the company contact you? If so, when should you expect that communication? If you don’t get a call or email, at what point can you try to get back in touch? Who should you call?

Follow-up Makes a Difference
While a company may be quick to reach back out after the interview, in many instances the candidate who follows up wins the position. Don’t assume no news is bad news. In some cases, no news means the interviewer got caught up in other things. Taking the time to send a thank you card, make a call, or send an email adds value. Go the extra step and send thank you cards to other employees you met while visiting for the interview as well.

Interview strategies abound, but these simple techniques offer a great starting point. These steps provide a basic process to ensure you are prepared for any interview.

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