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Interview Essentials

To put you at ease, many interviewers really don’t know how to interview (no pun intended). Most are managers and supervisors who have never been trained in the interviewing techniques. It’s obvious that many don’t even prepare in advance, probably because they don’t have time or just don’t think of it. This makes it easier for you to take control of the interview, if you’re prepared. Typically, the unprepared interviewers will ask questions centering around your résumé, because it’s all they have got, to go on. They’ll stare at your résumé for few seconds, ask a question, stare at your résumé some more, and ask another question. So, memorize your résumé, goals and accomplishments well.

You might also interview with one or more of your future coworkers. Regardless of the questions they ask, what most people really want to know is, how well you will fit into the team, and / or if they should feel threatened by you. Be eager enough to show that you are a good team player, but not so eager as to appear to be a back-stabbing ladder climber!

While it’s important to impress managers, supervisors and coworkers, you may also have to impress the company HR representatives. In most cases, they are trained to ask very specific and personal questions, like what salary you expect. They are also the people who will conduct a background check on you. They mostly have the final say.

Remember, it’s a two-way street. It’s the employer’s chance to judge you, but it’s also very much your chance to judge the employer. In fact, if you handle yourself well and ask the right questions, you’ll put the interviewer in the position of selling the company to you. If this happens, you’re probably doing


The Checklist

  • Arrange and carry your paperwork in a nice portfolio. This makes you look organized and professional.
  • Dress appropriately. Even if you know that the company dress is casual (typical these days), dress up anyway. It shows professionalism and respect. But, dress conservatively. Call it conventional, but get the job first!
  • Don’t wear strong perfume , as your interviewer may not like your choice. It’s best to have no smell at all!
  • Smile, offer a handshake immediately, and say something like, “I’m pleased to meet you.” or “I’ve been looking forward to meeting you.” Be sincere, not phony or cool. “What’s up, Dude?” is best shared with your friends, not corporate interviewers!
  • During and after the handshake, read the mood. If the interviewer is formal, then you probably should be, too. If the interviewer is casual, then follow along, but remain courteous and professional.
  • Wait to be told to take a seat or ask if it’s okay, then say thank you. This shows manners.
  • If it’s possible without making a commotion, pull your chair close to the interviewer’s desk, like you’re ready to dive right in. This shows confidence. But, don’t invade the interviewer’s personal space (the desk space belongs to the interviewer! No hands on the table!).
  • Sit properly, and if you don’t know what to do with your hands, keep them folded in your lap. This is another indication of manners. Don’t cross your arms over your chest, as it subliminally demonstrates a closed mind to some.
  • Even trained interviewers are regular people like you, so they’ll expect you to be a little nervous sitting in the hot seat. But, avoid obvious signs like fidgeting.
  • Maintain eye contact with the interviewer. Don’t stare or you may make the interviewer uncomfortable. But, don’t look away too often, either. To some, it indicates that you are lying or lacking confidence.
  • Definitely don’t chew gum, smoke or scratch your head!

Posted in Careers & Employability.


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