Your job interview should be a two-way conversation that covers what you can bring to the position and company, as well as what you can expect in day-to-day responsibilities and culture. Expect your interviewer to take the lead with pertinent questions. Be prepared with questions that reflect your interest in learning more about the opportunity and company.
Many interviewers follow a common structure of first asking questions, then allowing time for you to do the same. Be sure you have some questions ready to demonstrate your interest in the position and company. Sometimes interviews are less structured and more of a dialogue between you and your interviewer. Whichever the style of interview, there are many ways to show your active interest.
Making a good first impression
Your first impression on the interviewer will impact the overall interview. Key things to assist you in making a positive impression include:
- Make sure your cell phone is off.
- Place any items you are carrying in your left hand so you are ready to shake hands.
- Shake hands firmly.
- Be prepared to be introduced to people and remember their names. Try to use their name right away - this will help you remember it longer.
- Use the name as it is given to you. For example, if someone is introduced to you as Dr. James Martin, address him as Dr. Martin unless instructed to call him James. Do not call him Jim unless told to do so.
Composure during the interview
Your ability to project self-confidence about your abilities and experience will greatly enhance your opportunity to make a good impression. Your interviewer will assume that the way you act in the interview is how you will act on the job, so make sure you come across as alert and interested. Express your interest and excitement about the position, company, and its goals. Let your interviewer know you are willing to acquire new skills.
Body language is very important throughout your interaction with your interviewer. Make eye contact with your interviewer, sit up straight, and smile!
How you answer the questions posed to you is important. Keep in mind that the interviewer draws conclusions about you, your experience, and your attitude from the answers you give.
- Listen carefully to questions and answer the question asked.
- Answer with clear, concise statements, but explain yourself - yes and no are not enough.
- Be articulate and organized in your responses. It is all right to ask for a moment before answering to gather your thoughts. If you are nervous, take a deep breath and compose your thoughts.
- Do not exaggerate your qualifications.
- Be honest and sincere.
- Be positive.
- Speak about your former employers and experience in a positive way.
- Try to relate your answers to the position you are interviewing for.
- If you are asked questions that seem more personal in nature, use good judgment in how much information you provide. Many interviewers don’t understand that certain questions are illegal, and are simply asking because they want to get to know you. If you are uncomfortable with a question, diplomatically let the interviewer know that you prefer to keep your personal life separate from business.
Ask questions at the end of your response to clarify or show further interest in the company. For example, “Is that similar to how your company would do it?” Questions about salary, benefits, and time off should be saved until you receive a formal offer or an indication that one is forthcoming. Your first interview is not the time to discuss these topics, unless the interviewer wishes to do so.
Remember that the interview allows the company to see why you are a better candidate than your competitors. This is your chance to demonstrate your strengths and give them a glimpse of your personality.