So, you found a posting for a company you’re really interested in. You worked hard to craft a perfect resume and cover letter for the job. And, lo and behold, it worked – you’ve been called in for an interview.
You’re on cloud nine.
The company has expressed interest in you, and you are flattered and proud. As the interview date draws closer, however, excitement morphs into dread.
Navigating the interview process with ease
The interview is considered by most job hunters to be the most intimidating part of the hunt. And understandably so. There’s a lot riding on that first face-to-face meeting, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the situation. This doesn’t have to be the case. With enough forethought and planning, that terrifying meeting with your potential bosses can even become an enjoyable experience – and a smash success.
To ensure this, you’re wise to adopt one simple mantra: prepare, prepare, prepare.
“You need to know the details of the job you’re applying for,” advises Sharon Blackwell, Calgarybased regional communications and operations manager for Alberta Human Resources and Employment. “And you must have a good understanding of how your skills and experiences fit in with that particular job.”
You must be prepared to give examples of how your skills fit into the needs of the company. And the experiences you list need not be gleaned from employment. “It doesn’t have to be work-related,” Blackwell comments.
“There are many, many other ways to show experience. In your volunteer life, how you manage your home, your experience overseas, things like that.” Here are a few more tips: Do your homework. By getting to know the organization, you’ll be better prepared for the meeting. This can be accomplished in a number of different ways. A company website is a fabulous way to learn about the history and ethos of a business. If possible, it’s a great idea to visit the physical job site itself. There, you can gather brochures, speak to reception personnel, and get a general sense of the office environment. Basically, you want to get a good sense of the organizational structure.
The interview isn’t just about showing your qualifications
Dress the part. Jeans and a T-shirt won’t cut it, no matter how laid-back the job at hand appears to be. No matter what business you’re applying for, it is always, always appropriate to dress up. To play it safe, stick with business casual – clean dress pants, a conservative skirt, a smart jacket, and/or a buttoned-up, collared, and pressed shirt. Personal grooming is also important – clip those fingernails, tidy your hair, and be sure to brush your teeth. A neat appearance suggests much more than aesthetic considerations – it shows you have respect for yourself, you respect the company and its representatives and you understand what’s required. These are all things employers look for when hiring.
Put your best foot forward. The biggest mistake any applicant can make is showing up late. Aside from displaying poor time-management and organizational skills, it’s just plain inconsiderate – after all, these people are taking time out to help YOU. Always show up at least ten minutes early. Period. Once at the interview, be friendly, polite, and respectful. Remember the basics – always say please and thank-you, and smile as often as possible. Interviewers look for a positive attitude, and there’s no better way to impress than that in an interview.
Know your own history. There’s nothing as awkward as a blank stare following a question. Before you even enter the meeting, you should be prepared to rattle off work experiences with ease. Try to come up with relevant anecdotes that are both interesting and informative. For example, if you’re applying to work as a nurse, talk about that high school blood donor clinic you helped organize. While you can’t predict what exactly your interviewer will ask, you can assume there will be at least one inquiry about your past – and you should know it well. To further prove your preparatory prowess, bring extra resumes (in case there is more than one interviewer) and a portfolio of your work (if applicable). Also, have a list of references on hand – it’ll bring you one step closer to being hired.
Ask away. No matter what the job, you’re going to want to know a few things before you start working – and not just how much cash you’ll bring home. You might want to know what the office environment is like. What kind of turn-over rate is there? What major projects does the company have lined up? What is the busiest time of year? Is it an accessible environment for physically disabled employees? Asking similar questions will do more than satisfy your curiosity. It will also prove you’re bright, thorough, motivated and genuinely attracted to the company.
Keep upbeat. If it all seems to go terribly wrong, it is essential to keep things in perspective. No matter how badly the interview may have seemed to have gone, no matter how rejected you feel, a healthy attitude can work wonders. Sit down, relax, and don’t be too hard on yourself. Remain positive. Even if you felt the interview went badly, it taught you something, preparing you all the more for your perfect meeting. And who knows, unlike you, the interviewer may have felt the interview went remarkably well.
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