Thoroughly research the position (written description, talk to people working in the field, talk to experts in the area, check "business" journals, papers, etc.). You must be well prepared to effectively demonstrate your suitability for the position and your value to the organization.
Understand the value of what you have to offer in the position, not simply what the organization can offer you. Although this may be your first ‘real’ job and you may feel that the position will be a learning opportunity, remember that employers aren’t educational institutions. You need to show that you will add value to their organization, value that you have developed through all of your prior work, academic, volunteer, and extra-curricular experiences – value that got you this interview!
Thoroughly research the organization in the same way you have researched the position – research is the key to knowledge, and knowledge demonstrates a mature and sincere interest in the opportunity. A commonly asked question is “What do you know about our organization?” Not having an answer would indicate a sign of disinterest.
Know your resume inside and out and be prepared to talk in depth about your experiences and provide concrete examples of your skills to substantiate your claims.
First impressions matter. Choose a professional interview outfit--for both women and men a suit is a good choice. If you have a follow-up interview you can vary the accessories -- shirt, sweater, blouse, tie, shoes, etc.
Avoid wearing strong scents and remember to turn off your cell phone.
PRACTICE! Most people are not born with top notch interviewing skills. The Student Success Centre offers many resources to help you improve these skills and increase your chances of securing employment or further academic pursuits.
Make sure you bring with you any documents or resources you may need for the interview such as references and a portfolio.
Arrive 5 - 10 minutes early so that you can relax and feel comfortable with the surroundings.
From the minute you drive into the parking lot or arrive at the interview location keep in mind that you are making an impression on a potential employer. Treat every individual you encounter with respect and professionalism - you never know who will be in the interview room with you or who will be consulted regarding hiring decisions.
Relax as you wait and try to visualize a successful interview.
When the interviewer comes to get you, stand up and greet them with a firm (not a vice-grip) handshake and make eye contact.
Think positive and interact with confidence -- be careful not to appear arrogant. Let the interviewer conduct the interview -- be an active participant but don't take over the interview.
It is proper etiquette to remain standing until the interview invites you to sit.
Maintain eye contact – it demonstrates confidence and trust.
4. Rapport Building
Observe the interviewer's communication style and mirror it. If they smile a lot, you should smile often. If not, you should avoid being overly enthusiastic. If they are speaking quietly, try reducing your volume, and vice versa.
If you do not understand a question, ask the interviewer to be more specific, rephrase, or whatever feels appropriate -- never try to answer a question you don't understand.
Before responding to a question, take time to organize your thoughts so that you can answer in a thoughtful and organized manner.
When asked to identify your strong skill areas/personal qualities identify each and offer specific examples of how you have demonstrated these skills/personal qualities in the past.
If asked to respond to "situation" questions, be sure to organize your thoughts, state your assessment/solution, and be sure to offer rationale for your actions.
Remember that the best predictor of future performance is past behaviour.
The interviewer will give signals when the interview is about to conclude. Be sure to reinforce your interest in the position and the organization, show your enthusiasm and potential for becoming a valued member of the "team".
Ask questions. Appropriate questions to ask the interviewer might be about the training program, and policy with regard to professional development. Salary should only be discussed/negotiated when a job offer is made.
Thank the interviewer for their time/consideration/information, etc. and listen carefully so you are aware of the planned follow-up. If you are not told what the next step in the process is -- ask.
As soon as you can after the interview, make comprehensive notes assessing the interview. Make notes on: overall assessment of how the interview went; questions that you answered effectively; questions you had difficulty with -- prepare a good answer for the next time; the name of the interviewer; notes for future interviews. Consider each interview a learning experience upon which you build your skills in preparation for next one.
Always send a thank you letter (or email if timing is an issue) to everyone with whom you had contact during the interview process.
If you do not receive a second interview, or are not successful in getting a job offer, it is quite appropriate to request a follow-up assessment on your performance. This could be done by telephone or in person. It is a good opportunity to get valuable feedback and an objective.