Interviewing is a stressful situation. As a job seeker, you want to put your best foot forward and ensure you are doing all the right things to improve your chances of being selected for the job. Your preparation may vary from interview to interview, but mastering a core set of interviewing skills will give you a solid foundation on which to build.
Adequate preparation for the interview is the most important thing you can do to minimize stress. Review your resume and update it as necessary to highlight the areas of your expertise that are relevant to the job description. Think of specific examples you can give to illustrate your suitability for the job. Research the company by reviewing its website, reading its press releases, reviewing articles about it in the media, and talking with acquaintances who are familiar with it. Career sections of most company websites will give insight into the culture of the company, while corporate information sections can tell you about its history, vision and growth strategies. Assemble the appropriate interview attire ahead of time, and make sure you know the best way to reach the interview site so you can ensure you aren't rushed the day of the interview and can arrive there in plenty of time.
Your interview starts before you meet the hiring manager. Be pleasant to the receptionist or other administrative staff who greet you. When you meet the interviewer(s), give a firm handshake, smile and look them in the eye. Your earlier preparation will help you remain at ease during the conversation and allow you to confidently answer questions. Always have questions ready to ask the interviewer that demonstrate your interest in and knowledge of the company, your understanding of the position and its responsibilities, and your enthusiasm for the job.
Identify your interview weaknesses ahead of time and work to improve them before your interview. Ask a friend or mentor to assist. For example, if you have a hard time making eye contact with people, practice looking your friend in the eye when you do a mock interview. If you are not comfortable talking about yourself, practice the answers you will give outlining your relevant strengths, training and experience. Focus on real-world examples. A hiring manager may pass you over and select another candidate if your answers to questions are overly vague. Avoid replying in general terms and be specific about how you've handled situations or projects in the past. Listen carefully and stay on topic.
After the interview, follow up with a short phone call or email, thanking the interviewer for her time and expressing your continued interest in the position. After the initial follow-up, limit your contact to no more than once every one to two weeks until the hiring decision has been made. If it is determined that other candidates are a better fit for the position, responsible hiring managers will let you know as soon as possible. Accept the rejection gracefully and ask for feedback on your interview so you'll be better prepared next time.
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