Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Successful Interviewing Tips

Congratulations, you have made it to the interview phase of the job hunt!  Your potential employer has found your resume and application impressive enough to schedule a time to meet with you.  This is your chance to close the deal!

The most important thing to realize when applying and interviewing for jobs is that you are selling yourself, your skills, your abilities, and your experience, both academic and professional.

Let’s break down what having an interview means.  It means you have passed stage one.  Your potential employer has reviewed your application and resume and found that you meet or exceed the job qualifications and SEEM to be a good fit on PAPER.  Good work!  You have effectively sold yourself on paper.  Tune into Success Advice Podcast # 6 - Resume Cover Letters to learn why they are so important to use and how to use them.

Now you are on stage two.  Here you are being tested on your ability to represent everything you put on paper and sell yourself in person through effective communication skills.  It is one thing to put things on your resume, and an entirely different one to be able to talk about yourself confidently and express why you are the best fit for a job.

You will be put on the spot to display why you are the best candidate through sharing your strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments, qualities, and experiences so be prepared to talk yourself up and sell yourself.  Interviewers can ask a variety of questions and you can never be too prepared.  It is best to have stories of times when you exhibited qualities that the position/company demands. 

I did some research to find interviewing questions and proves to be a great resource.  Click here for a list of 100 possible interviewing questions at

It is good to practice what you might respond to any given question but try to avoid sounding rehearsed!

Remember, your job is to make a good first impression whether in person or over the phone.  If in the interview is face-to-face, make sure you dress to impress, and as a rule of thumb always dress at least one step higher than the position you are applying for.  For Professional Image advice, check out the first Performance & Success Advice Blog Post.  If the interview is over the phone, make sure that you introduce yourself, get the person’s name who is interviewing you, speak slowly and clearly, and be sure not to interrupt the interviewer!


*TIP 1* - Prior to the interview, do some research on the company, the position you are applying for, and if you know who the interviewer is, on them as well.  They will almost always ask you what you know about the company and the position you are applying for.  Do this to show the interviewer you are prepared and interested in both the position and the company.

*TIP 2* - Also prior to the interview, prepare a list of questions you have about the job.  Remember, not only is the potential employer interviewing you, but you are also interviewing them to see if the company, culture, and job are a fit for you!  Do this to show the interviewer that you are resourceful and that you know what you want.

*TIP 3* - Make sure that you have either the business card of the interviewer or their contact information.  This will come in handy after you leave the interview to Follow Up.  Do this to show the interviewer that you really want the job and are willing to take time to show them that you care.  The more creative the follow up, the better you will look.  At the least, I recommend writing a personalized, hand-written thank you note.  Tune into the Success Advice Podcast # 1 – Follow Up to learn why it is so important and how to follow up!

*BIG TIP* - You were asked to come for the interview because you sold yourself on paper.  You interviewed and were able to effectively sell yourself in person.  Now what?  ASK FOR THE CLOSE!  Do this to show the interviewer you want it and that you know how to get what you want. 

Here are a few ways to do this:

  • A Safe Close, ask “What are the next steps from here?”
  • A Safe Close, ask “When should I expect a decision to be made?”
  • A Safe Close, ask “When should I follow-up with you about the decision?”
  • A Blunt Close, ask “Does it seem like I am a fit for this position and the company?”
  • A Bold Close, (the assumptive close) ask “When do I start?”


Here is the BIG TAKE AWAY to interviewing success:

1.           Pre-interview prep (practicing questions you may be asked, preparing questions to ask, and conducting research)

2.           Dress to impress

3.           Communicate effectively and sell yourself! (speak slowly and clearly)

4.           Ask questions to engage the interviewer and show you are prepared

5.           ASK FOR THE CLOSE

6.           Follow Up

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