Interview Basics

The job interview is where the rubber meets the road. Your interview skills will ultimately determine whether or not you get a job offer.

Throughout the interview, an employer will evaluate you on a variety of levels. This could be anything from your appearance and your personality to the way you communicate and express yourself.

Proper interview preparation will enable you to project a confident, professional image, and will increase your chances of securing the job you desire.

Smile, be enthusiastic and get there early.

The outcome of many interviews is decided during the first 30 seconds of the interview. The introduction is key, greet the employer with a firm handshake, make eye contact and a smile. You must project an enthusiastic, professional image right from the start. Characteristics that contribute to a professional image are conservative businesslike attire, self-confidence, warmth, a sense of humor, and prompt, concise answers to their questions. Arriving early makes a great impression. It shows your appreciation for the employer' s time and allows you enough time to complete any required paperwork.

Complete the application in detail.

Be truthful. Most employers look closely at the way an application is filled out as well as the information on it. Think of it as an example of how you would perform on the job. Read through the directions before writing. Fill in the form neatly and completely, Do Not write "see resume". Never misrepresent your education or work experience, present only the facts! Always write the word "open" in the space for salary desired

Ask the employer to describe the job.

Take an active part in the interview process. Begin by asking the employer to describe the job. Some of the most effective interview questions you can ask the prospective employer are those general, open-ended questions that prompt the interviewer to engage in a open dialogue with you. For example, an effective opening question might be something like "Mr. hiring manager, could you help me understand the goals and requirements of this position as you see it over the next 1 to 2 years?". Or another, "Mr. hiring manager, what do you see as the most challenging aspect of this position over the next 6 months?". These types of questions facilitate an interview session where there is 2-way communication between yourself and the person interviewing you, while also allowing you to understand both the challenges of and the opportunity presented by the position. Listen carefully and mentally note each duty mentioned. This will help you understand how to respond. Be sure to focus in on your experience and training that relates to the position.

Describe how your past experience and qualifications will help you do the job.

Your recruiter will have explained how your background and experience fit the employer's specifications. Include specific factors that qualify you for this position. Use examples of particular achievements that will help the employer visualize you successfully handling the job.

Maintain a Positive, Can-Do Attitude.

A major factor in most hiring decisions are how well the employer gets along with the applicant. To develop a good rapport, make sure you speak clearly, listen closely and show interest. When the employer says something that requires an answer, comment, smile or nod... REACT! Body language is important too. Sit up straight in your chair, lean forward slightly and maintain eye contact. Never smoke or chew gum, even if the employer offers.

Ask meaningful questions about the position.

Many employers evaluate applicants by the questions they ask. Employers like specific questions about the nature of the job, the company' s plans and goals, and the abilities considered most important for the position.

Answer questions by speaking in terms of the position.

Emphasize what you can do for the company. Your answers should tell the employer why you would be an asset to the company, not why you need a job. If an employer asks a broad-based question, mention specific accomplishments that will show your abilities and determination to succeed in this position.

If you want the job, ask for it!

Most employers feel that a desire for the position is just as important as the ability to perform the work. An extremely effective interview technique is simply to ask for the job. One way to do this is to simply ask the employer: "Do you think I can do the job?", or "What concerns, if any, do you have about my ability to do the job". If the answer is affirming, say: "Great! When can I start?" Let the employer know that you can do the job and would like to go to work there. Another effective question is "What is the next step?"

Discuss salary in general terms.

Since you've written "open" in the space for salary desired, the employer may ask how much money you're looking for. Respond by saying: "I'm very interested in the position and I'd like to work for a company that treats me fairly--if you are interested in me I'd like for you to make your strongest offer. How much would you offer someone with my qualifications?" If the employer makes a firm offer and you want the job, accept it on the spot. If you're doubtful or undecided, ask for a day to think it over. Never refuse an offer of employment until you've had time to think about it and discuss it with your consultant.

Say "thank you" ... in person and in writing.

As you're leaving the interview, thank the employer for taking the time to talk to you about the position. Follow-up with a personal "thank you" note to the employer, stating once again why you'd be an asset to the company and expressing your interest in the position as well as the company.

After the interview, call your Touchstone associate. If you accepted the position, or plan to do so, we'll need to know so appointments for other applicants can be canceled. If your interview didn't work out, we'll go back to work for you to arrange interviews for other career opportunities.