Research. Research. Research.
It is critical to possess as much knowledge as possible about the employer and interviewer(s) prior to the interview itself. Employers consistently rank lack of knowledge of the organization as one of the primary reasons for not extending an offer. In short, you must start the interviewing process well before the actual interview.
Develop a Strategy
The underlying question in every interviewer's mind is "Why should our organization hire this person?" The specific experiences, credentials and/or achievements you will emphasize need to be fine-tuned depending on the employer and the position. Just as you must tailor a resume to a specific employer, it is critical to differentiate each interview and focus on the unique fit between your background and this employer.
Develop a List of Questions
Always prepare a list of questions relevant to the employer and the interviewer (if possible). Be careful not to ask questions that could easily have been found by looking on their Web site, reading their promotional material or from the media. This shows a gross lack of preparation. At the end of the interview, make sure to follow-up with any questions that have been left unanswered. Having additional questions is one way to demonstrate a genuine interest in the employer and the position, and employers attach more importance to your additional questions than you might think.
Confirm the time and location of your interview the day prior to the meeting.
- Arrive at least 15 minutes before the appointed meeting time. This allows you to take a moment to breathe and relax.
- Be sure to bring all documentation requested by the employer. At a minimum, bring clean and updated copies of your resume, transcript, references and writing sample.
Practice, practice, practice
We have developed an Interviewing Skills Worksheet you can use to prepare for each individual interview. The worksheet will take you through an inventory of your skills and experience, selling points on why you are interested in a particular employer, questions you can ask the particular employer and finally anticipating challenging questions by framing areas of concern in a positive light.
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