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  Interview Tips

 


Part I ... ?

Interviewing for Success

 

Research tells us that most hiring decisions are made at the first interview. How the prospective employer perceives you can be as important as your experience and job talents. Here are some interviewing tips that will help you get the job you want.

Before the Interview

Do your homework! Learn everything you can about the company and the position. Review your experience, and construct responses to potential interview questions about how your background will be of benefit to the prospective employer.

Plan ahead! Have your outfit and accessories assembled at least the day before the interview. Dress for the job - don't over-dress, or look too casual. Collect and review all the materials you intend to bring to the interview. This could include another copy of your resume, writing or presentation samples, or your professional portfolio.

The Interview

  • Always go to the interview alone. Arrange for baby-sitters, transportation to anticipate pitfalls so that you can be on time and relaxed in the interview.
     
  • Find common ground with the employer. Pictures, books, plants, etc. in the employer's office can be conversation starting points.
     
  • Express your interest in the job and the company using information you gathered to prepare for the interview.
     
  • Let the interviewer direct the conversation.
     
  • Answer questions in a clear and positive manner. Show how your experience and training will make you productive in the shortest time with minimal supervision.
     
  • Speak positively of former employers and coworkers no matter why you left even if you were fired from you last job.
     
  • Let the employer lead into conversations about benefits. Your focus on these items can be a turn off. But don't be afraid to ask questions about things that you really need to know.
     
  • When discussing salary, be flexible about naming a specific salary. If you're too high, you risk not getting the job. If you're too low, you under-sell yourself. Answer questions about salary requirements with responses such as, "I'm interested in the job as a career opportunity so I'm negotiable on the starting salary." Negotiate, but don't sell yourself short.

Closing the Interview

If the employer does not offer you a job or say when you will hear about it, ask when you may call to find out about the decision.

If the employer asks you to call or return for another interview, make a written note of the time, date and place.

Thank the employer for the interview and reaffirm your interest and qualifications for the job.

After the Interview

Make each interview a learning experience. After it is over, ask yourself these questions:

  • What points did I make that seemed to interest the employer?
  • Did I present my qualifications well? Did I overlook qualifications that were important for the job?
  • Did I learn all I needed to know about the job?
  • Did I ask questions I had about the job?
  • Did I talk too much? Too little?
  • Was I too tense? Too relaxed?
  • Was I too aggressive? Not aggressive enough?
  • Was I dressed appropriately?
  • Did I effectively close the interview?

Make a list of specific ways you can improve your next interview. Remember, practice makes perfect - the more you interview the better you become at it.

 

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Part II... 

The Interview Process Examined
  • Preparing for an Interview
  • The Telephone Interview
  • Following up after an Interview

This month we'd like to focus on the interview process and offer you some tips that will help you through one of the more stressful aspects of finding a new job. We've chosen to present information about Telephone Interviews because many employers now use telephone interviews as either a pre-screening process or as a substitute for face-to-face interviews when great distances are involved.

Preparing for an Interview

Planning and preparation are key - not only during an interview, but before the interview as well.


Getting ready

Creating a favourable impression with future employers actually begins before the interview, at the time of your first contact. Because of this, you'll want to make certain your email address and voice mail messages are professional and reflective of the image you'd like prospective employers to have.

If your email address is something like "wildandcrazy@hotmail.com" you might want to sign up for a separate, more conservative account name to use only for your job search efforts. Likewise with the recorded message you use for voice mail. Cute, fun and creative greetings are great for friends and family - but again, something conservative and a bit more formal is in order when you're actively seeking employment.

Preparing mentally

Once you've scheduled an interview, you need to prepare mentally. This involves:

  • Learning more about the organization/job you're interviewing for
  • Preparing answers to 'typical' interview questions
  • Making up a list of questions you'd like to ask the interviewer

Learning more about an organization you're planning to interview for is one of the most often overlooked areas of preparation - and one of the most crucial. Being familiar with an organization indicates your level of interest in them as a potential employer and shows a bit about how motivated you are at finding a good fit between yourself and your employer.

  • Where are they located?
  • How large is the facility/organization: is it a referral hospital,are they associated with a university or college, are they a small community center?
  • Does the facility specialize in any way?
  • Has the organization been in the news lately? If so, why?
  • Is the facility part of an integrated network or larger organization?
  • How is the role you're being interviewed for similar to, or different from, your current role; and how would you likely fit within this organization?

Typical interview questions

Interviewers use several different types of questions that will help them to gain insight into your personality and level of skill so that they can decide whether or not there is a fit between you, the organization, and the position you're applying for. Typical interview questions often include:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What do you want to be doing five years from now?
  • Why do you think you might like to work for our company?
  • Why/when did you become interested in this career field?
  • Do you feel you have all the qualifications for the job?
  • In what curricular activities did you participate? Why?
  • Do you prefer working with others or by yourself? How do you know this?
  • Describe your ideal job.
  • What have you learned from the jobs you have had?
  • Why did you choose your major?
  • How were your grades?
  • Do you plan to go to graduate school?
  • What are your special abilities?
  • Describe your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Do you like to travel?
  • What have you done that shows initiative? Willingness to work? Leadership ability?

The interviewer uses questions like these to assess your ability to express yourself clearly and confidently. Thinking about your answers to questions like these will help you to clarify your thoughts, prepare for your interview, and have strong examples of various situations from your past ready to discuss with the interviewer.

Those of you who have not had much interview experience may want to rehearse your answers so that you're comfortable with your answers and able to speak confidently with the interviewer.

Toward the end of the interview, it will be your turn to ask the questions. This is your opportunity to learn more about the role you're considering, the overall nature of the organization, the possibilities of future career growth: all the information that will help you decide if this is a place you would like to work, especially if you're considering a relocation. If you've taken the time to do a bit of research about the employer, you'll be in a better position to ask relevant questions.

The Telephone Interview

More often employers are deciding to use telephone interviews, especially for screening prospective candidates who live in another city. Telephone interviews have some unique advantages and disadvantages. One disadvantage is that you have to sell yourself using only words and the tone of your voice. But if you prepare properly for the interview, you have the "hidden" advantage of being able to have notes right in front of you. You also have the comfort of being in familiar surroundings.

Most of the tips about preparing for and handling in-person interviews also apply for telephone interviews. But there are some extra things you can do for the telephone interview.

  1. Don't drink, smoke or eat during a telephone interview. This should go without saying, but if you're not familiar with using the telephone as a "business communication tool" you might not even realize how casual your phone habits may be. A good guide is to consider what you would and wouldn't do at an "in person" interview - and act accordingly while you are on the phone.

  2. Give the interviewer your undivided attention. This too, may seem self-evident, but consider what it might be like to have a telephone interview if you have roommates or small children in your home. Again, plan for the interview as if you were actually attending an appointment. Arrange to have privacy and a quiet environment for at least half an hour before the interview time up to about an hour after that time.

  3. Dress appropriately and sit up straight. This may sound a bit strange, but your mind set is important. You are more likely to conduct yourself in a business-like manner if you act like you are at an in-person interview than if you are laying on your bed in your pajamas.

  4. Telephone conversations are different than face-to-face conversations, so adjust your interview style accordingly. Short sentences are more easily understood over the phone. Keep your answers brief and to the point. This not only helps to maintain the interviewer's interest, but allows both of you an opportunity for active discussion.

  5. As in any interview situation, don't answer a question that you haven't fully understood. Ask the interviewer to restate the question, or clarify their request. Not only does this give you time to prepare an answer, but it prevents long silences on the phone. If you're unable to answer a question after a few seconds have passed, ask if you could have extra time to think it over and include this information in your thank-you letter.

  6. Smile when you answer the phone and greet the interviewer. This is a little-know customer-service tip, but smiling when you greet a caller adds warmth, interest and enthusiasm to your voice. It is equally important to answer questions courteously and in an even tone: speak clearly and slowly, articulating each word carefully. People who use this method of speaking command attention. Remember that any note of irritation or frustration in your voice is much more noticeable over the phone, and can't be offset by positive body language.

  7. Before the interview ends, be sure to include follow-up information. For example, ask when to expect to hear from the interviewer again regarding the position.

  8. Be sure to thank the interviewer for taking the time to conduct the telephone interview.
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Thankyou Letter... 



The Thank You Letter

Never forget to follow up with a thank you letter - it provides you with yet another opportunity promote yourself. Many employers interview dozens of applicants. As a result, they may not remember you. Your thank you letter will refresh their memory of the interview, the key points you discussed, and will round out your profile as a top candidate for the position.

After your interview, make notes about what the recruiter seemed most interested in and discussed in most detail. Use this information to write your thank you letter. By sending a thank you letter within 2 days of the interview, the prospective employer should receive it before a hiring decision has been finalized, and you'll have the benefit of putting yourself in front of the recruiter one more time.

What should you include in a thank you letter? Here are some tips:

  • Thank the employer for his or her time during the interview; this is after all, a thank you letter.
  • From the notes you took following the interview, review the points of greatest interest and relate these to your specific qualifications.
  • If you forgot to mention something during the interview, include it in the thank you letter.
  • Invite the employer to contact you for more information if necessary.
  • Mention that you are looking forward to the employer's decision.

If the employer requested that you submit samples of your work, you may attach them to the thank you letter. Be sure to mention the attachments in your letter: "As requested, I am forwarding samples of the Nursing Protocols I've written for your review."  

SUMMARY

Interviewing - whether a face-to-face, or by telephone, is never an entirely comfortable experience. However, with a bit of forethought, preparation and practice, it is possible to feel at ease and confident about the whole process.

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