How well you interview will determine if you get the job. It is essential to know yourself and how your personality, characteristics, qualities and experiences relate to the position you are applying for. Prepare diligently for the interview and know what kinds of questions will be asked of you, in addition to what questions you intend to ask of the employer.
Finally, don’t forget to ask questions at your interview. Keep them relevant to the position and don’t ask about pay or benefits during the first interview.
The most important and useful thing you can do to prepare for an interview is practice. Study the common interview questions listed below and practice answering them. It may even be useful to write out the answers and read them several times – including right before the interview. Practice in mock-interview situations. Practice with your friends and family.
Analyze your answers and determine what will set you apart from other candidates. Relate those qualities and characteristics to the kinds of questions that will be asked in the interview. You can also use mistakes made in the past as examples of self-improvement if you have taken the initiative to improve in those areas.
How you dress says more about you than you may realize. It demonstrates your attention to detail and your judgment of what is appropriate. These are two very important pieces of information for a potential employer. Whether we like it or not, people judge us by how we look. First impressions matter.
Conservative! Many organizations may allow casual attire or a casual day, but until you are quite certain about what it is, it is best to err on the conservative side. Conservative is also the rule on a job hunt. Even in companies where the culture is more casual, they still look for job seekers who stick with the classics.
Conservative suits in dark colors – black, charcoal or navy – are ideal. Men should be in slacks, tie, suit/sport coat and dress shoes. Women should wear slacks or knee-length skirts, tailored suit coat and one-inch heels. All clothing should be ironed, and shoes should be buffed. Again, those who pay attention to every detail of their clothing probably pay attention to every detail on the job.
It’s also imperative that you have a good haircut that is styled neatly, your hands and fingernails are clean and your breath is fresh. Also, wear a minimal amount of jewelry. Men should only wear a watch, a college ring and/or a wedding band. Women should limit their jewelry to stud earrings, two or three rings and a watch. All accessories should be simple and kept to a minimum. Lastly, do NOT wear cologne or perfume. You have no way of knowing whether or not your interviewer is allergic to perfumes. Play it safe.
There is no one perfect outfit. The general rule of thumb when interviewing is to dress one step above what you would wear on the job. Ultimately, you must decide what you are comfortable wearing and what is most appropriate for your situation. And don’t forget – a smile is always the best accessory.
What occurs, or does not occur, after the interview often determines who gets the job. Even if you’ve done everything incredibly well up until now, not following-up with a thank you letter can kill your chances of getting the job. Employers often interview several people for each position, and you can get lost in the pile if you don’t follow-up and make yourself stand out from the crowd. The follow-up letter gives you the opportunity to thank the interviewer(s) for their time and restate why you are the perfect candidate.
This may seem like a trivial, even menial, task – but it is important. A follow-up letter is a step in the job-search process that many people overlook or take for granted. Show your follow through abilities, initiative, and respect by taking the time to craft a strong letter.
Your follow-up letter should include the following:
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