The Interview

Much has been written about interview success. Ideally, a good interview will result in a job offer. However, if it doesn't, try not to despair. Keep in mind that the interview is a two-way fact finding process. The employer will be assessing whether or not your skills and abilities match the organization's needs, both short-term and long-term. At the same time, you will want to determine whether or not the position, including its compensation, is compatible with your needs. Below, you will find some guidelines that should help you during the interview.

DO'S & DON'TS of Interview Success

  • DO conduct some advance organizational research. Attempt to find out as much as possible about the organization and the prospective position. Be sure to ask for a job description prior to the interview. In addition, seek out company information in sources such as web-sites, trade journals, annual reports and reference books. Use this information to help plan YOUR interview questions. Think carefully about what you want to know about the position and the organization.
  • DO know yourself. Take time to reflect on your goals and values, your special skills, your strengths and weaknesses and your overall personality. Next, think about how these relate to the position at hand and the organization.
  • DO be punctual. Get directions in advance to be sure not to get lost. Allow yourself extra time for contingencies.
  • DO be honest. Straightforward, open and positive communication is the key to a good interview. NEVER condemn past employers. Remember to present yourself in a positive light.
  • DO concentrate on discussing how your background and skills meet the employer's needs and how you can assist the organization in meeting its objectives.
  • DO focus on your past experience and how you successfully demonstrated initiative, good judgement, integrity, motivation, positive relations with others, teamwork, independence, resilience, reliability, maturity, flexibility, energy, and leadership.
  • DO answer questions in a clear, concise and consistent manner. DON'T go off topic.
  • DO practice your interview skills. Ask a friend to help out. DON'T forget to evaluate your body language.
  • DO be sure to meet your immediate manager prior to accepting the job. Remember that interpersonal conflicts are a prime cause of employee dismissal.
  • DO be prepared to answer questions on your career aspirations, your work history and your reasons for leaving your prior positions. DON'T be apologetic.
  • DO be well rested, friendly, polite, make eye contact and ensure that your attire is professional and that you are well groomed.
  • DO end the interview on a positive note. Thank the interviewer and ask what the final selection process will be.
  • DO send out thank you notes. DON'T be afraid to ask for feedback about the interview if you DON'T get the job. It may prove to be helpful in your job search.
  • DO bring extra copies of your resume, a portfolio featuring your work if applicable and a paper and pen along with a list of your references (Be sure to ask them in advance and thank them).
  • DON'T downplay your accomplishments.
  • DON'T assume that the job offer is non-negotiable. However, DON'T over focus on money during the interview.
  • DON'T chew gum, smoke, wear strong perfume or cologne or wear heavy make-up.
  • DON'T assume that the interviewer holds all the advantages. A job interview is a two-way street. The employer is looking to avoid hiring somebody who won't succeed. Remember that you wouldn't be there if the employer didn't have a need.
  • DON'T talk too much or adopt a defensive attitude. Listen carefully and try to appear mature, calm and confident. Ideally, you will leave the interview with an excellent understanding of the job requirements and of the organizational culture.

Sample Interview Questions

The following questions represent a sample of a wide array of possible interview questions. It may be useful to practice your answers out loud with or without a partner.

  1. What do you consider to be your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?
  2. What motivates you?
  3. Tell me about your prior work experiences. What did you most like? Dislike?
  4. What are your short and long-term career goals?
  5. Do you enjoy teamwork? Or do you prefer to work independently?
  6. Why do you think that you are the best candidate for this job?
  7. How well do you handle stress? Provide an example from previous experience.
  8. What has been your greatest challenge in past work experiences? Your greatest reward?
  9. Would you be willing to relocate? Travel?
  10. What attracts you to this company?
  11. How did you demonstrate leadership in the past? Initiative? Discretion? Tactfulness?
  12. How would you describe yourself?
  13. Tell me about yourself?
  14. Why did you choose your present career path?
  15. What type of work environment do you thrive in?
  16. What is your ideal job?
  17. Define success?
  18. How well do you handle criticism? Confrontation? Conflict?
  19. What do you feel is your most significant work accomplishment? why?
  20. Are you organized?

Here are some questions that you may wish to ask.

  1. What is the organizational structure? Where does this position fit in?
  2. What type of person is most likely to succeed in this position? Why?
  3. What will my primary responsibilities be?
  4. What are the long-range goals/plans for this position? Organization?
  5. How will I be evaluated? By whom?
  6. What kind of training is available?
  7. Will most of the work be performed independently? or in a team environment?
  8. Is there an opportunity to travel? relocate? transfer?
  9. Can I expect a lot of overtime?
  10. Are there many opportunities for advancement/promotion?
  11. When can I expect to hear back from you?