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Job Interview Advice For Candidates

Success at a job interview is mostly about preparation.

Here's some advice on doing well at an in-person interview and a phone/tele-interview.

In-Person interview

Early preparation

  • Research about the employer's areas of business, expertise, accomplishments, their culture and working environment several days before the interview.
  • Plan to wear smart but comfortable clothes to suit the employer's working environment.
  • Gather a couple of blank papers and a pen. Make sure it's a good pen (i.e., not about to run out of ink). This is so that you can take notes if needed during the interview.
  • Write down the interview location address, employer's phone and interviewer's contact information.
  • Prepare the list of work references you wish to provide to the employer later (name, email, phone). Usually you will be asked for 2 or 3 references.
  • Print two copies of your latest resumé.
  • Ramp-up on the topics/subjects/technologies/techniques that are relevant for the job you are interviewing for.
  • Think of and find questions and answers on subjects/technologies that are relevant for the job you are interviewing for. Try the internet.
  • Write down a couple of questions that you may want to ask the employer/interviewers.
  • Write down your strengths as well as a couple of your weaknesses (yes, you do have some!). These are usual interview questions.
  • Plan to arrive at the building where the interview will be held at least 30 minutes before the time of the interview. This is to ensure you have extra time if there are travel delays, difficulty in finding the building or difficulty in finding a parking spot!
  • Fully charge your mobile/cellular phone.
  • Setup an alarm(s) on your mobile/cellular phone to remind you when to get ready for the interview.

Preparation

  • Wear the smart comfortable clothes you selected earlier.
  • Groom yourself (brush teeth, comb hair, etc..).
  • Bring your mobile/cellular phone. Make sure it is not on mute.
  • Bring the interview location address, the employer's phone and interviewer's contact information.
  • Bring the couple of blank papers and the pen.
  • Bring the two printed copies of your resumé.
  • Bring the questions that you may want to ask the employer/interviewer.
  • Travel to the interview location. Do not present yourself at the reception yet.
  • Use the restroom if needed. Have a little water to drink if needed.
  • Sit and relax for 5 minutes.
  • Present yourself at the interview office about 3 minutes before the scheduled interview time and let the reception know who you are and who you are interviewing with.

Interview

  • When you are called-in for the interview, place your mobile/cellular phone on mute/do-not-disturb mode.
  • Observe the employer's work environment, the workers and facilities provided. You have to decide whether this is the type of work environment that suits you and you will be comfortable with.
  • Greet the interview panel.. If handshaking is appropriate in your culture, make it a firm handshake.
  • Make eye contact with the person(s) asking the question, but don't over do it.
  • If asked to introduce yourself, make it brief and no more than a couple of minutes.
  • If requested, present the printed copies of your resumé.
  • Be enthusiastic when answering questions.
  • Answer questions honestly. If you don't know the answer, say you don't know it, but add that you can learn it quickly.
  • Convey your 'positive','can-do' attitude to the interviewer(s).
  • When asked about your skills/accomplishments, do explain in detail, but don't overstate them.
  • When applicable, refer to previous positions where you've demonstrated use of the skills/knowledge and where they are listed in your resumé.
  • If needed, draw diagrams, write formulas, code, etc.. to further illustrate your answer/knowledge. Don't be afraid to use the whiteboard if there is one at the interview room.
  • Unless asked, it's best not to discuss salary and other compensation related topics. The interview panel may not know about these details.
  • Use the blank paper you have to write down any items/topics to follow-up on.
  • If an interviewer asks questions which are inappropriate (e.g. whether you are planning to have a child soon), you can politely refuse to answer them.
  • If the interviewer asks whether you have any questions, present the questions you had prepared for, and any new ones.
  • At the end of the interview. thank the panel and leave the interview room with a smile.

Post-Interview

  • Place you mobile/celluar phone back on regular ring mode!

Tele-interview

This is when the interview will be conducted remotely (e.g. telephone call or tele-presence via Skype, WebEx). Sometimes a tele-interview is conducted by an employer prior to an in-person interview (as an initial screening).

Early preparation

  • Research about the employer's areas of business, expertise, accomplishments, their culture and working environment several days before the interview.
  • If the call includes video, plan to wear smart but comfortable clothes. Do not plan to wear a shirt/top that includes checkered patterns or thin lines (these patterns display badly on low resolution video).
  • If the interview is via a phone call and you the employer is calling you, make sure to provide the employer the correct phone number to call on (e.g. your personal mobile/phone number vs. your home phone number).
  • Prepare a couple of blank papers and a pen. This is so that you can take notes if needed during the interview.
  • Print a hard copy of your latest resumé.
  • Ramp-up on the topics/subjects/technologies/techniques that are relevant for the job you are interviewing for.
  • Write down a couple of questions that you may want to ask the employer/interviewers.
  • Write down your strengths as well as a couple of your weaknesses (yes, you do have some!). These are usual interview questions.
  • Make sure your phone/computer has everything setup and working (e.g. Skype, WebEx) as required for the interview. If you are using your phone make sure your cellular/mobile signal strength is strong and you have sufficient credit/minutes in your phone-plan to cover the length of call.
  • Fully charge your mobile/cellular phone.
  • Setup an alarm(s) on your mobile/cellular phone to remind you when to get ready for the interview.

Preparation

  • If the call includes video, wear the smart comfortable clothes you selected earlier.
  • Groom yourself (brush teeth, comb hair, etc..). Yep, do this even if your call does not include video!
  • Have your mobile/cellular phone with you. Make sure it is not on mute.
  • Have the blank papers and the pen with you.
  • Have the printed copy of your resumé with you.
  • Ensure that you will not be disturbed during the interview (e.g., by loud traffic noises, pets).
  • Have the questions that you may want to ask the employer/interviewers with you.
  • Use the restroom if needed. Have a little water to drink if needed.
  • Sit and relax for 5 minutes.

Interview

  • Call-in (e.g. phone-call/Skype/WebEx) a couple of minutes before the scheduled interview time and stay-on, but don't announce yourself yet.
  • Place your mobile/cellular phone on mute/do-not-disturb mode.
  • When the interview begins, greet the interview panel and mention your name.
  • If the call includes video, look up at the camera when answering questions.
  • If asked to introduce yourself, make it brief and no more than a couple of minutes.
  • Be enthusiastic when answering questions.
  • Answer questions honestly. If you don't know the answer, say you don't know it, but add that you can learn it quickly.
  • Convey your 'positive','can-do' attitude to the interviewer(s).
  • When asked about your skills/accomplishments, do explain in detail, but don't overstate them.
  • When applicable, refer to previous positions where you've demonstrated use of the skills/knowledge and where they are listed in your resumé.
  • Unless asked, it's best not to ask about salary and other compensation related details. The interview panel may not know about these details.
  • Use the blank paper you have to write down any items/topics to follow-up on.
  • If an interviewer asks questions which are inappropriate (e.g. whether you are planning to have a child soon), you can politely refuse to answer them.
  • If the interviewer asks whether you have any questions, present the questions you had prepared for, and any new ones.
  • At the end of the interview, thank the panel and end the call with a smile (even if the call does not include video!).

Post-Interview

  • Place you mobile/cellular phone back on regular ring mode!

 

Good luck in your job interview! Ace it!

- Nalin D Jayasuriya (founder, PromisingJobs.com)
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