Resume and Interview Tips
Whether you are facing your first job interview or have a couple behind you, here are a few pointers to help you navigate the interview process.
Plan ahead for the interview to arrive a few minutes early with a couple of black or blue ink pens and to be prepared for basic questions you might be asked. Although there are hundreds of possible questions an interviewer may throw out to you, what they are most likely trying to find out is how dependable you are, if youre a hard worker, if you are easy to get along with, and what kind of skills, if any, you can bring to the job. Keep those things in mind as you frame your answers to the questions you are asked. Think ahead how you would answer the questions Tell me about yourself or What are your greatest strengths?
Once you are fortunate enough to get an interview, remember only a true emergency should keep you from showing up at the scheduled appointment on time. Excuses like, I couldnt make it because the friend who was going to give me a ride was waiting for her brother to get back from.... etc. will help a potential employer decide you are not the candidate for the job. Sometimes you may be asked to call or return several times before you are told whether or not you have the job. Dont give up, and be sure you follow up, since this may be a test to see how dependable you are and how well you follow instructions.
During your interview remember attitude is everything. Its why an employer may hire you instead of someone who is just as smart or just as qualified. The proper attitude shows that you are positive and eager to please. Its caring enough not only to be on time, but to arrive several minutes early. Its wanting the job bad enough to make a good impression. Your clothes should be clean, pressed and appropriate. Men, now is the time to tuck in your shirt and put on a tie. Women, dress conservatively. Forget about wearing tank tops or shorts. Every part of you needs to be clean and look well-groomed and well put together. You are projecting how you feel about yourself by the way you dress and present yourself.
Watch your posture. It might be a bit hard to appear relaxed yet energetic and eager at the same time, but you can do it. Greet your interviewer properly which means with a smile, a greeting (such as thank you for seeing me), a correct handshake, and direct eye contact. Make sure you introduce yourself by using both your first and last names.
Maintain good direct eye contact during your interview. This indicates you are focused and interested. Do not stare; just appear to be listening and friendly.
Sit when you are instructed to do so. Dont slump, fidget, play with your hands, cross your legs, or tap your feet. Just sit up straight in the chair with both feet flat on the floor.
Be mindful not to interrupt.
Answer all questions completely and honestly. Dont say you have experience when you do not. Dont say you know how to do something if you know you dont. Never lie. Answer all questions in complete sentences, which will help to keep you from appearing indifferent.
Try to emphasize your dependability and your willingness to work hard.
Show interest! Ask questions, such as What would my duties be during a typical workday? or What is most important to do well in this job?
Discuss your strengths, skills and accomplishments, not how much money you want. Let the interviewer bring up salary, even if its approached in a subsequent interview.
When the interview is over, make sure you smile, shake hands again and say thank you. Immediately after the interview write and mail a short well-written letter, thanking the interviewer for the time given you, and restating your interest in the position. This is an additional opportunity to impress the interviewer and to project the positive attitude employers are looking for.
Tina Pestalozzi is the author of Life Skills 101: A Practical Guide to Leaving Home and Living on Your Own, available at www.TheLifeSkillsBook.com. She is the director of Global Protocol and Etiquette Services; presenting seminars on civility and business etiquette to corporate, government and educational organizations.