People spend hours writing and editing their resumes in the hope of getting the job they want. Some people spend money to have their resumes professionally prepared, just to improve their chances of getting a job.
The key to getting your foot in the door is a well-drafted resume, but a poor performance in the job interview can slam the door shut very quickly. Take as much time preparing for the interview as you do preparing the resume. Begin by learning five steps every job seeker should know to make the interview a success.
1. Dress to Impress
What you wear to the interview should convey the image of a worker who is conscientious, professional, and mature. The interviewer should not think that you cared so little about the job that you did not take a few minutes to iron a shirt.
Dressing conservatively will always work. It never offends, and is less likely to draw attention away from you. Focus the attention of the interviewer on you, not on your loud tie or brightly colored shirt.
2. Research the Job Before the Interview
Do your homework before going into the interview. Go into the interview knowing the qualifications, training, work conditions, tasks performed, average salaries, and projected job prospects for the jobs. One source of information is the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States Department of Labor (www.bls.gov).
The job interview is not the place to ask questions demonstrating a lack of knowledge about the position. It is, however, a perfect time to show the interviewer that you have a solid understanding of the general nature of the job for which you have applied.
3. Research the Company
A job applicant who is familiar with the company impresses interviewers. Finding information about a company is as easy as typing the company’s name into a search engine, such as Google or Yahoo. Read a few of the results to get a broad profile of the company and its place in the industry in which it does business.
Go to the company website. There you will find an abundance of information about the company and the people who work for it. Start with the “About Us” section to get an overview of the company. Read the sections on products and services, management, etc., to get a thorough understanding of the company.
Finish your visit to the company website at the section entitled “Pressroom” or “Press Releases.” Press releases are an excellent source of information about new products or services, and management or policy changes in the company.
4. Answer the Interviewer’s Questions
How an interviewer conducts an interview is a matter of personal preference and style. Some interviewers ask many detailed questions of the applicant, while others get by with a simple, “Tell me about yourself.”
The key to successfully answering an interviewer’s direct question, or responding to a request to tell the interviewer about yourself, is to think of the act of responding into a three-step process.
• Listen carefully to the question. Understanding what the interviewer is asking. If there is any part of the question you do not understand, ask for clarification before responding.
• Think before you respond. A question can be an opportunity to display your knowledge about the company or the job that you acquired from your research. Take a moment to form your answer in your mind before responding.
• Respond by completely answering the question. Answering only part of the question signals the interviewer that you did not listen to the question, or are being evasive in your answer.
5. Be Prepared for the Big Finish
Most interviewers end the interview by asking the job applicant if they have any questions. Too many applicants look around the room as though they are deep in thought, but respond by saying, “I don’t think so.”
This is your opportunity to interview the interviewer. Come prepared with a few questions that will display your knowledge of, and interest in, the job and the company.
If you look upon the job interview as an opportunity to impress a prospective employer, and you prepare in advance, you will enhance your chances of getting the job of your dreams.