After an employer reviews your resume, you may be invited for an interview. Often an employer will interview several qualified applicants for one job.
Interviews are useful to both the employer and yourself, the potential employee. The purpose of an interview is to allow the employer to evaluate your skills and personality. They want to see if you will be a good fit for both their business or organization and the job. An interview also permits you, the interviewee, to get more information about the business or organization and the job for which you are being interviewed.
An interview can be:
- an informal meeting between you and a potential employer
- a formal group meeting between you and a panel of interviewers
- individual or with a group of other applicants
- in person, by telephone or via video conference
Before the Interview
Here are some tips to help you before a job interview:
- Ask questions when you are contacted to make an appointment for the interview. Some examples of questions you can ask are: Will there be a test as part of the interview process? How many people will be at the interview? Approximately how long the interview will take?
- Practice answering potential interview questions -- remember all of your training, skills, and experience that relate to the job for which you are interviewed. You will need to be able to answer questions on what you did in past jobs and how you did it.
- Do some research on the business or organization which called you in for the interview. If they have a website, visit it and learn some details about them. There may be some questions to test your knowledge about this during the interview. You should also prepare some questions you have about the business or organization and/or the job.
- Confirm your scheduled interview time and arrive early. Know where you are going and how long it will take to get there. You can do this by driving or traveling the route a day or two ahead, at the same time of day as you will travel on the day of the interview.
- Carry a folder or envelope to the interview with the following items: copies of your resume for each interviewer; copies of your reference list and, if you have any, copies of reference letters. Have a paper and a pen, so you can write down any notes, the interviewer's name, the time of a follow-up meeting or second interview, or other information you might need later.
- Make sure your clothing is clean and appropriate for the type of job for which you are applying. For example, you would not wear a suit to an interview for a job as a plumber.
During the Interview
During an interview, the employer will ask various types of questions to:
- Get to know you better -- These questions are normally asked to 'break the ice' (make you feel less nervous) and to give you the opportunity to tell more about your personality traits and your career goals. Employers not only want to know why your skills would be good for the job, but also if your personality is a good fit for their business or organization.
- Understand your qualifications, skills, and experience -- You will be asked for more details than given on your resume. These questions may be about your past education, work experience and transferable skills (skills you have acquired through past jobs, training, volunteer work, hobbies, sports, and life experiences that can be used in your next job) relating to the job for which you applied.
- See how knowledgeable you are -- These questions may be related to the knowledge you have in your area of work, related contacts or affiliations you have, or about the business or organization interviewing you.
- Observe how well you solve problems -- These questions are geared to help the employer discover how you, the interviewee, will act or acted in specific employment-related situations.
Here are some suggestions to help you succeed in an interview:
- Greet the interviewer or panel members. Introduce yourself and shake hands firmly. Give a sincere smile. This will help put you, and the interviewer, more at ease. Stand until you are invited to sit down.
- Let the interviewer or panel members take the lead and set the tone of the interview. Make eye contact, and answer the questions in a firm, clear, confident voice. Relax and sit naturally.
- If you do not understand a question, ask the interviewer to repeat it or ask for more explanation. It is better to ask for clarification than to give a wrong or incomplete answer.
- During the interview, you may be asked if you have any questions. Prepare a couple of questions that show you are informed about the company. You can also ask for more information about the position for which you are being interviewed.
After the Interview
After an interview, you may have to wait days or weeks to hear if you got the job or will be called back for another interview. In the meantime you can:
- Write a thank you letter to the interviewers -- Thank the interviewers for taking the time to interview you. Restate your interest in the job and remind them of your qualifications. If possible, mail, or email the letter the same day as your interview.
- Review the interview -- Consider which parts went well, upon which parts you could improve, and how you would do it differently the next time. This will help you learn from each interview.
- Make a follow-up call -- If the employer is supposed to call you on a certain day, be available to take the call. If you are not called at the specified time, make a follow-up call. If you agreed to call the employer back, be sure to do it on the set day. If you did not make any arrangements, and you have not heard from the employer in about two weeks, call to find out the status of the hiring process.
- Ask questions -- If you get the job, ask about the next steps. You need to know when to report for the job, and if there is anything else you need to do before you start working. If you find out you did not get the job, you can ask why. For example, you can ask, 'Can you tell me what would have made me a better candidate for the position?' Ask if the employer knows of any other job openings in your line of work. Always thank the employer or personnel manager for considering you. Be professional and polite. Even if you do not get the job, you never know when the employer may be hiring again. Sometimes it happens that the chosen candidate does not work out, and after the probationary period the employer may decide to offer you the job after all.