Interview Success Tips in a Tough Economy

8 Mar

No matter where you are in your career, from entry-level to the top rung of the ladder, one skill that is absolutely necessary to catapult you from one level to the next throughout your professional life is the ability to interview well. What exactly is the purpose of an interview? What are the goals of both parties involved in the interview, and how does this tie in to receiving a job offer? What is the best way to prepare for an interview, to avoid being nervous, anxious, and blowing the entire appointment?

According to a general dictionary, an interview is defined as a formal meeting, especially one arranged for the assessment of the qualifications of an applicant. Seems simple enough, right? As a job seeker, it’s necessary to change the way that you view an interview. Let’s take our thinking from a passive appointment in which an employer gets to know a prospective employee, to a dynamic process in which a prospective employee has the opportunity to sell his or her skills. You see, many applicants have the misunderstanding that they will participate in an interview, for the purpose of determining whether or not they want to work for an employer, at the wages and salary the said employer is willing to pay. Think about this for just a second. Many applicants walk in to an interview with limited information about the company they have applied to, and believe the answer as to whether or not they work for this company comes down to the money.

In today’s competitive job market, it’s necessary that every applicant realize there are plenty of applicants for most jobs. Unemployment is at an all time high. When you get that call to interview with a company, it’s not time to asses and be assessed – it’s time for you to audition for the role of your life!

The goals for the hiring manager during your interview is to get to know you, uncover any hidden information not provided on your resume or application, and determine whether or not this person is a good fit for the position. As the applicant for the job, your goals should always be as follows:

  • to display a professional and personable attitude
  • to openly discuss and show the hiring manager how your past experience can connect to their current needs
  • to ask thoughtful questions of the interviewer that provide additional information about the position, and the type of individual that will best perform the position

Obviously, the hiring manager performing the interview hopes to fill this job with the “right candidate.” Conversely, the applicant’s goal should be provide such a stellar performance, the employer will have no doubt their company cannot continue to operate without you as a part of their team.

The best way to prepare for an interview is with the help of your career agent or the recruiter who is representing you. In the event you pursuing your search alone, here are some helpful tips to ensure you are ready for the big interview:

  1. Do a thorough research of the company’s website.
  2. View all news articles and press releases for the company for the last year.
  3. Find out the name of the person you will be interviewing with, and search for information about them on LinkedIn, Google, MySpace, Facebook, or any other social networking websites.
  4. Contact the company’s human resources department, and request a detailed job description be emailed or faxed to you.
  5. Go through the job description, line to line, and write down all of the skills and experience you have that relate directly the position. Be prepared to discuss each of these with the interviewer.
  6. Write down a minimum of five good questions you wish to ask the interviewer during the appointment. Make sure your questions are not answered by the company website, and further show your interest in the position on a long-term basis.
  7. Make sure you have directions to your interview, and allow yourself plenty of time to arrive early.
  8. Dress for success – it’s always better to be ultra-professional than to be under-dressed for the meeting.
  9. Bring three clean copies of your resume to the interview, with cover letter and references.
  10. Write a thoughtful thank you letter to each person you spoke with during the interview, and email them as soon as you return to your home or office.

When you attempt to handle a job search on your own, it can be a cumbersome and time consuming process, that results in fewer interviews and employment offers than expected. Oftentimes, the decision to work through a career agent or professional recruiter can be the difference between obtaining your target position and remaining in your current situation. Changing your perspective on how to interview, and the goals of each party involved in the activity can ultimately provide you with the success in obtaining your next career move, with proven results.

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