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Interviewing Tips

The interview is the last step of the hiring process--and the most important. It offers both you and the employer the opportunity to meet one another, exchange information and come to tentative conclusions about "hiring" one another.

The interview is a two-way process. You evaluate the employer while he/she evaluates you. Since there is no one way of interviewing, you will have to develop your own style. In the short amount of time that you will spend with a potential employer, you will either be screened in or screened out, so you must project yourself in a positive, enthusiastic manner.

The interview gives the employer the opportunity to meet you in person and to evaluate the "total" you. This includes your attitude, appearance, personality, confidence, knowledge about yourself, and knowledge about the company, as well as basic ability to do the job.


(The interview starts long before you appear in the interviewer's office.)

1. Research the Employer

Thoroughly research the organization to impress those with whom you meet and to allow more time for you to tell your story and discuss specifics of the position. Some of the information you will want to know includes:

It is also important to research issues, trends, problems, and jargon of the field. Such information can be obtained from people in the field, company literature, public and career libraries, trade journals, newsletters, business magazines, and directories. Prepare a list of well-researched questions for the interviewer.

2. Know Yourself

* Analyze your strengths and weaknesses and know exactly what you want to say and do not want to say during the interview.

* Evaluate your developmental areas and be prepared to offer a strong case for these during the interview, if necessary. Do not volunteer negative information about yourself or a former employment situation.

3. Prepare Yourself

* Know the name, role, and level of responsibility of each individual with whom you are to meet.

* Know exactly how to get to the facility and be prepared to arrive early and stay late.

* Dress to project an image of confidence and success; your total appearance should be appropriate to the job.

* Prepare to bring additional materials to the interview such as copies of your resume, a list of references, or examples of your accomplishments.


Before the interview you should have considered WHAT you want to communicate and HOW you are going to communicate. What you will want to communicate are: personal qualities, functional skills, and special areas of knowledge that relate to the particular interviewer or organization. How you communicate those personal attributes and background facts is indicated by your attitude, non-verbal behaviors and verbal responses.

Your first task will be to help to build rapport with the interviewer(s). The characteristics of building rapport involve your (1) attitude and your (2) non-verbal and (3) verbal behaviors.

  1. Your attitude should be one of openness or sensitivity to the interviewer's style and a feeling of mutual responsibility for creating a comfortable atmosphere, establishing a common ground. You should be thinking positively. (If you don't think you are the best candidate for the job, how can you hope to convince the employer you are?)
  2. The non-verbal behaviors which contribute to rapport are: dress and posture, eye-contact, handshake, voice level, and gestures.
  3. The verbal behaviors contributing to build rapport include: courteous observations, initiation of discussion, disclosure of personal qualities.

Be aware of your body language, how you communicate non-verbally. You will want to convey sincerity, a dedication to achievement, confidence and a high energy level. These attributes are communicated through your attitude and actions as well as through your verbal responses.

Be ready to ask questions from your prepared list. Techniques for asking good questions begin with the use of who, what, when, where, why, and how. Questions should be developed ahead of time and should reflect the amount of research you have done rather than your lack or research. Refer to the list of "questions to ask" to help you develop your own list.

Salary questions are usually inappropriate in the first interview, but you should research the salary range for the job/field ahead of time, consider how much the job is worth to you, and recognize that the pay raise structure of the organization is just as important as the entry level rate in assessing an offer.

Be alert to and evaluate management style, organizational structure, turnover, job responsibilities and growth potential, work atmosphere, staff/supervisor and co-worker relationships.

At the end of the interview set parameters for the next contact.

* "When may I expect to hear from you?"

* "What is the next step?"



Frequently, the interview progresses in stages: (1) establishing rapport, (2) obtaining data from the applicant, (3) discussing the position and the organization, describing your career objectives, asking interviewer questions, (4) closing.

The content of the interview is based on the style and priorities of the interviewer. Any or all of the approaches that follow could be used during an interview. The interviewer may want to:


    1. Objective: To gather facts about experiences the applicant has faced (probably most common approach).
    2. Method:
      1. Uses detailed questions, usually prepared in advance.
      2. Follows progression of application/resume as far as experience and education are concerned - basically an amplification of the resume.
    3. Pros/Cons:
      1. Yields a wealth of information (including personal) and encourages analysis of data.
      2. Can be a lengthy process as it covers candidate's life.


    1. Objective: To form an overall impression of the applicant.
    2. Method:
      1. Avoids use of set questions.
      2. Follows in unstructured progression allowing applicant to set directions.
    3. Pros/Cons:
      1. Lack of set questions - may not cover significant portion of candidate's background.
      2. Emphasis is on analysis of impressions, not facts.


    1. Objective: To evaluate probable job performance or technical knowledge of the applicant.
    2. Method:
      1. Asks hypothetical questions (what would you do if?) related to job performance based on candidate's concepts or attitudes of what it takes to do a given job.
      2. Asks for solutions, recommendations.
      3. Requires a set of situations carefully prepared in advance.
    3. Pros/Cons:
      1. Does not give a broad range of personality characteristics.
      2. Requires a skilled interviewer.


    1. Objective: To identify characteristics and uncover competencies of the applicant, leaving the interviewer to draw conclusions and evaluate what the applicant is likely to do in certain situations.
    2. Methods:
      1. Asks questions that will reveal what the applicant has actually done, focusing on both positive and negative experiences.
      2. Concentration on in-depth description to which the interviewer will compare the candidate's qualifications.
    3. Pros/Cons:
      1. Requires employer to establish beforehand "model" descriptions to which he/she will compare the candidate's qualifications.
      2. Requires careful formulation of questions so that all areas of model are covered.


QUESTIONS YOU CAN ASK EMPLOYERS (Use only if applicable to your situation)

Your research of an organization or position may not provide all of the information that you will need before you take a job. Listed below are sample questions that may be asked during the interview to supplement your research. Avoid asking questions that begin with "is", "are", and "do". These questions lead to yes/no answers. Instead, begin your questions with who, what, when, where, why, how, etc.


The best questions to ask are those which begin with who, what, when, where, why, or how. Please attend to those "lead" words as you ask and answer questions in the interview.


  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. What do you consider to be one of your weaknesses (strengths)?
  3. What can you do that someone else can't do?
  4. What qualifications do you have that indicate you will be successful in your field? How would they relate to our position? What do you have to offer?
  5. What are your own special abilities?
  6. What new skills or capabilities have you developed over the past year?
  7. What have you done which shows initiative and willingness to work?
  8. What are your greatest work and non-work accomplishments during the past two years?
  9. Describe three things that are most important to you in a job.
  10. What motivates you?
  11. What have you been doing since your graduation from colleg Since you left your last job?
  12. How would a co-worker, or friend, or boss describe you?
  13. What are your interests outside of work, school?
  14. What qualities do you admire most in others?
  15. How would you describe your own work style?


  1. Why should we hire you?
  2. Why do you want to work here?
  3. What do you know about this organization?
  4. What salary do you expect?
  5. Why do you think you would like this type of position? Company?
  6. What kind of boss do you like to work for?
  7. How long do you intend to stay here?
  8. What do you think determines a person's progress in an organization?
  9. What interests you about our product or service? How would you improve it?
  10. What do you think would be your greatest contribution to our operation?
  11. How do you solve problems?
  12. When can you start to work?
  13. Can you travel overnight?

The interview is often a tense situation. The better prepared you are the better you will perform.

Thomas Search Group is an equal opportunity employer and enforces the premise that there will be no discrimination with regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, or veteran status.

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