It’s not enough just to have a perfect resume that communicates who you are and what kind of employee you could be to a potential employer. That’s just the beginning of the process. A great resume will set you apart from other candidates and get you selected for an opportunity to interview for that position. Once you receive that call as an invitation for the interview, the rest is up to you. Below is a comprehensive guide describing what to do once you receive that call.
Know Your Resume
Make sure you’re familiar with each of your previous positions held, time frames, job responsibilities, educational achievements, etc. so that you can answer intelligently any questions that will come your way.
Know Your Strengths, Skills, and Abilities
You should be able to explain in detail and highlight what you’re good at. The employer called you because of the things that stood out to them on your resume. Therefore, expect that they will ask you about them.
Know the Company
This is where doing your homework will come in handy. You don’t have to know a full history behind how they got to be the company they are now, but knowing some key info about them will help. Such as, any specific info on the division you are interviewing with, recent company growth, new technologies, new innovative projects they are working on, etc. When any of the interviewers mention something about the company that you remember researching, it’s nice to be able to say ‘Yes, I did see that when I was looking up some background information on your company…’ But remember, be prepared to expand on that.
Have Your References Prepared
They don’t have to be listed on your resume, but you definitely need to have a list printed out on a separate sheet to take with you to hand to the interviewer if they ask for them. At least have a professional reference (a previous manager or supervisor is best), and a personal reference. Make sure you call each of your references before the interview. One, to ask for their help and if they would be a reference for you. Two, to let them know who you are interviewing with and when, so they are not surprised if/when your interviewer calls them. Make sure you get their current contact information to include on your printed list.
Look Professionally Dressed
This is pretty self explanatory, but needs to be addressed. Most interviews require business formal type of dress. Some other types of jobs you wouldn’t necessarily wear a suit to the interview, but make sure you always look professionally dressed and clean cut. Make sure you have your interviewing attire dry cleaned, pressed, and ready to go at least the day before the interview so it’s ready to go when you need it. Shoes cleaned and shined.
Things to Take to the Job Interview
- Some type of professional notepad/binder that you can carry your documents and notepaper/pen in. Possibly a briefcase if that suits you better.
- Several copies of your resume
- A printed out list of references
- A printed out copy of the job description you are interviewing for
- A printed out map to the location you are interviewing at
- A list of the people you will be meeting with and a contact phone number to call in case you need to contact them for any reason prior to the interview.
Know the Exact Location of the Job Interview
The last thing you want to have happen is to get turned around because you didn’t take the time to know exactly where you were going.
Be Early, Not ‘On-Time’
A lot of times companies will interview many candidates for a given position within a particular day/morning/afternoon, which makes it important for them to keep on a tight schedule. You want to be there early enough to make it in the building and to wherever the interview location is so that you’re ready to start when they are.
Be Courteous and Enthusiastic
First impressions are everything. Upon meeting the interviewers, greet them with a handshake and a smile. Compliments/comments about your surroundings and observations work well here. General light discussions about non-interview topics can be used to build rapport with whoever you are meeting with before the actual interview gets started. If you can make them laugh with some light humor, that is certainly fine as well. Convey your personality and don’t be too stern.
Practice, Practice, Practice – Interviewing Questions
It’s a great idea to obtain a list of general interviewing questions that you could be asked during the interview and have a good idea of how you are going to answer them. At a minimum, you should sit at a computer and type out your responses in your own words to each of the questions and then practice saying your responses out loud so they come off naturally. Having someone help you with a mock interview will definitely get you better prepared for the real interview.
Have a List of Questions for the Interviewer(s)
Take a list of prepared questions to ask the interviewer(s). It doesn’t have to be long, but these are going to be things that you will want to know from them that will help you better understand the position, company, and other aspects of the job. Your interviewer(s) will probably answer several of the questions you have written down throughout the interview, but they won’t answer all of them. When you have a list that you can pull out when one of them asks you ‘Do you have any questions for us?’ you’ll look prepared and have an opportunity to ask about things that you’d like to know about them that weren’t already uncovered. This could include things like what a typical day would look like performing the job, what are the realistic opportunities for advancement within this postion, what kinds of projects would you have me start on, etc.
Be Prepared for the Job Interview to go Long
A lot of times, if the interviewers see initially that you are a prime candidate for the position they will ask you more detailed questions about your background and qualifications which will take more time than they had alloted. They might take you on a tour through the facility and introduce you to other employees that you could potentially be working with to see how you interact with them. The interview could only be scheduled for 30 minutes and could take an hour and a half. Make sure that you are available if it does go long and don’t have anything scheduled directly after the interview in case this situation occurs. The last thing you want to do is spark their interest and tell them that you have to cut it short because you have somewhere else to be.
Ask for the Job/Position
If during the interview you generally get the idea that the position is right for you and you’d like to work for the company, then it’s time to express to them that you feel like you’re a good fit for them and ask for the position. You need to get across to them that you’re impressed with what they had to share and that you’d like the opportunity to work there.
Making Your Exit
After it’s clear to you that the interview is drawing to a close and they wrap it up, shake each of the interviewer’s hands, tell them that you appreciate the opportunity for the interview, and find out who would be the best person to follow up with. Make sure you get their contact info if you don’t already have it. Asking for their business cards is also a good idea. Find out what kind of time-frame they will be making a decision on the chosen candidate for the position. Tell them to feel free to contact you if there’s any additional information they may need about your experience and background.
After the Job Interview
Take it upon yourself to send a quick Thank You Letter at the earliest opportunity you have, the next day if possible. Express to them again that you were impressed, feel that you are a great fit, that you’re available to start when needed, and ask again for the position.
Often times the original interview is primarily a screening process to weed out applicants and if the interviewing team feels like you are a prime candidate for the position, they will call you back to line up a secondary interview. Usually this will be with the team or group that you will be working directly with and they will show you more specific details about the actual position. They will dig deeper into your experience and abilities and how it relates to the specific job. This is your biggest opportunity to close them on choosing you as the right candidate, because a lot of times the decision is made by the group or team as opposed to just a single manager.
The Job Offer
Once the interviewing team has decided that you are the best candidate for the position, you will receive a letter with the details of your offer. This is your opportunity to decide if the job position is right for you and your career goals and to review the details of the offer to decide if matches your needs.
Negotiating Salary and Benefits
There are many things that go along with a job offer that companies use to ‘sweeten the deal’. Ultimately it is up to you to decide which salary and benefits you feel that you deserve. Spending some time to research a salary range and types of benefits that fit the position you are applying for will go a long way to help you negotiate what you want. It will help prevent you from getting your counteroffer turned down because you asked for too much as well as not selling yourself short and accepting lower than you could have gotten.
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