Job Interview Tips

Obtaining an interview is the biggest intermediate step in your search for the right job.

Interviewing is a two-way process in which both you and your prospective employer gather information. It helps both of you see if your skills and styles will mesh well. But, more than anything else, an interview determines whether you are well suited for the requirements of the position in the eyes of the employer.

The typical interview process involves: Screening Interview; Decision Interview (one or more); Job Offer/Negotiations; Accept/Reject

Types of Interviews

Interviewers use a variety of techniques to help evaluate a candidate. The following are some common approaches you are likely to encounter:

  • In-basket: Given a job-relevant task to complete. Your work will be evaluated and factored into the selection process.
  • Screening: Initial meeting to reduce the number of candidates to be recommended for review.
  • Stress: Pressure is used (e.g., “So what makes you think we would hire anyone with such poor qualifications?”). Rarely used except for high stress positions which require effective coping skills (e.g., airline pilot).
  • Structured: Formal questions are asked in the same manner for each applicant. Usually assessed with a rating sheet. Interviews for government positions are typically highly structured.
  • Targeted: Questions are tailored to identify a specific personality trait or organizational approach in the desired candidate.
  • Behavior based: Predict your performance based on questions from recent experiences (e.g., “Describe a time you had a conflict with a colleague and tell how it was resolved”).
  • Situational: Most difficult to prepare for as questions are unpredictable. The question can be most anything (e.g., “If you won the lottery, what would you do?”).
  • Group/Committee: Several individuals interview you or, conversely, you are one of a group of several candidates.
  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner: Meeting is conducted during a meal. It is important to remember the purpose of meeting is more than eating.

Prepare Before the Interview

Like studying before a test, preparing for your interview pays off. College campus recruiters often cite “lack of research of the prospective company” as the biggest reason for not selecting candidates. No matter what type of the above interviews you may encounter, doing research before your interview will improve your chances of getting an offer. Here are twelve main areas to investigate before going to your interview:

  • Location of the home office and relative size of the firm
  • Potential for growth in the industry
  • Percent of annual sales growth in the last five years
  • Array of product lines, services, and market potential
  • Various price points in the product or service line
  • The competition
  • Age of top management and organizational structure
  • Number of plants, stores, or outlets and their locations
  • Structured or unstructured training programs for employees
  • Average time in non-management assignment
  • Recent items in the news about the organization
  • Corporate culture

Be a Positive Force

At this stage of the job hunting process you should begin to visualize a positive performance at your interview. Before going to a face-to-face interview or conducting one on the phone, review the following list. The employer seeks the best person for the opening. Your objective is to leave each interviewer with the best possible impression. Some proven techniques and evaluation questions include:

  • Be straightforward and honest.
  • What is the job description? Is it a meaningful one? Can you really accomplish your goals in the position and get the support to do it?
    Be yourself, and relax prior to the interview so that you can concentrate on the questions being asked. Realize that you have choices. There are other job opportunities. Make the match that is best for you and your potential employer.
  • Be aware of what you carry into the interview. Keep things simple and uncluttered. Plan where you will place your belongings. Think about logistics prior to the interview so that you can concentrate on the questions being asked.
  • Evaluating your interviewer. Conservative? Sensitive? How does he or she match your personality? Speak to his or her concerns.
  • You are going to be questioned thoroughly and your references will be checked. Check the department’s or company’s strengths and weaknesses through acquaintances. Remember, a good manager would not hire someone who didn’t want to know as much about her as she does about them.
  • Who are the people you will be working with? In all probability, you will have more contact with them than you will with your boss. Try to meet the “right” people – not just your supervisor. This could include your supervisor’s boss or your co-workers.


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