Education Career Services

September 18, 2009

Straight Talk About Your Upcoming Interview

by Francine Asuncion

September 18You finally got the call and they want you to come in for an interview.  Before you hang up, you’ll be sure to get all the basic information such as the date, time, and location of the interview.  There are, however, a couple of other questions to ask that might not be so obvious.  Specifically, who will be interviewing you? Will it be an HR representative, the hiring manager, or a cross functional panel of people?  Knowing this might give you a clue about the type of interview to expect and the questions you’ll want to have ready. Something else you’ll want to find out is how much time will be required for the interview.  Some interviews can be squeezed into a lunch break.  Others take days to carry out because they involve being flown halfway across the country.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s say you have an interview here in town with the hiring manager of a nationally known company.  Here are the steps you should take to prepare.

(1)  Research the company.  Between library resources, internet, magazines, and news reports, most large companies have a plethora of information accessible for a hopeful candidate.  If the company is small, check local resources such as the newspaper, the Better Business Bureau, and regional magazines.

(2)  Research the industry.  This may not seem like an especially good use of your time, but this step can prove to be valuable.  Look for information like the top competitors in the market, the general health of the industry, major changes or innovations that have affected business, etc.  Your probing may spark some intelligent questions that you can ask the interviewer.

(3)  Know how your skills and experience compare to the job requirements.  Think about how your particular strengths could be used in that role.  What are some areas of your professional training or knowledge that you’ve not yet mastered?  How will you deal with those shortcomings in the context of your new job?

(4)  Write a list of questions to ask your interviewer.  Once you’ve completed the first three steps, this part should be easy.

(5)  Study or practice.  You know the job for which you’re applying.  Might you be given a typing test, a help desk ticket, a sight-reading piece, a complex math algorithm?  Be ready to show what you can do by brushing up on your skills, reviewing materials, or practicing at home.

(6)  Have someone drill you with questions.  There’s nothing like one-on-one interaction to take your preparation to the next level.  The person you’re working with might be able to provide constructive criticism.

(7)  Last, here are the kind of old-fashioned, common sense things my grandmother would tell you to do a day or so ahead of time.

*  Confirm the location of your interview by using an internet mapping tool or driving to the site.
*  Select and prepare your outfit.
*  Forget the keg party and get some good rest.

Being properly prepared will boost your confidence and show that you’re serious about the job and your career.

Thank you Francine for your insight and no doubt many of our followers will benefit from your comments

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
Education Career Services:
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