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Interview Guidelines for Applicants

There are Two Types of Interviews

Informational Interviews

It does not matter whether you are a student, fresh graduate or experienced professional. These interviews are perfect for people who are trying to figure out what they want to do and familiarize themselves with the community as well as various organizations. These interviews allow a person to see what a professional does in a specific position or job, the duties associated with that job and the education or training required. This networking approach allows you to meet key business people and establish contacts. Remember, you must have no job expectations. It is not reasonable to give your résumé to the interviewer and directly ask if you can work at the company. This interview only provides the opportunity to request information or observe the ambiance and their work techniques to see if it suits your skills and interests.

To set up an informational interview, write a list of jobs that you would like to know more about. Then make a list of local companies have relevant positions. Make a call and speak to the human resources manager of the company. They can put you in touch with employees who work in the field of your interest. You can also write a letter to the company expressing your interest in speaking to someone who works in that position. Another option is to ask friends and family if they know anyone pursuing that field. This approach is a great way to establish personal contact. (Attached are sample questions to ask during an informational interview)

Questions to Ask

Depending on the position, you may need to format questions to meet your professional needs and interests in the company. The following list will give you a foundation on which your questions will be based.

  • What is your exact title/position?
  • How does your position impact the organization?
  • How will you get into this work?
  • What education or field of experience is required for this position?
  • What do you like best about doing this type of job?
  • What do you like least or what would you most like to change?
  • Describe a typical day at your job?
  • What are some of the personal qualities needed for success in this field?
  • Does your position depend on the company?
  • Do other companies hire employees for your position?
  • What type of salary can one expect to start out in this field? After five years?
  • Do you belong to any professional organizations?
  • Is there anyone else you can recommend that I can speak with?

Job Interviews

Job Interviews are scheduled for specific open positions that have been advertised or announced by the company. Do not call the company to set up a job interview. That process only works for informational interviews, as mentioned above. Search information about the company by going to their website. Make a list of reasons why you would be a good fit for the job and how your education and experience might benefit the company.

A job interview can take many forms. The initial interview may occur over the phone or in-person with one or more people. You may be asked to come back for a second or third interview. Interviews can last for a couple of hours and sometimes it is finished within 30 minutes. Employers want to meet you in person to determine if you will be an asset to their company and review résumés to narrow down the candidates by making sure they meet the minimum requirements for the position.

Employers may look at previous education, experience, certificates or length of professional experience. If résumés could speak for themselves, no one would need interviews. Once the employer determines that you meet the minimum requirements (if any), you may be called for an interview. During the interview, you may meet with the president of the company or a human resource department employee or any other company representatives.

When the interview is over, make sure to get a business card so that you can follow up. Ask the interviewer when you can expect to hear from them on their decision to hire. Work on some areas of the interview where you think you need improvement. Practice with a family member or friend.

Questions to Ask

Depending on the position, you may need to reformat questions to meet your professional needs and interests in the company.

  • What are the duties and responsibilities of this position?
  • What is the organizational structure of the company?
  • How does this position fit into the organizational structure?
  • To whom would I be reporting?
  • What type of on-the-job training I might expect?
  • Describe the management style of the organization.
  • Describe the organizational culture.
  • What are the opportunities for personal growth?
  • How are employees being evaluated and promoted?
  • What are the challenging facets of the job?
  • What are the company’s plans for growth in the next five years?
  • What are the company’s strengths and weaknesses?
  • Will I have the autonomy to be creative and implement ideas and projects?
  • Is any travel required?
  • What qualities do you feel your employees possess?
  • How will this position help you to succeed in the near future?

Questions Asked During a Job Interview

  • Why did you apply for this position?
  • What skills do you feel you possess that would benefit our organization?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What do you hope to be doing in 5 years? Or what are your long term and short term goals?
  • Tell me about your previous position.
  • What are your personal interests?
  • Tell me about a project you were in-charge of /worked / or which displayed your creativity.
  • Give an example when you had to work in a group, and one member was difficult to handle. How did you handle the situation?
  • Tell me about a time when a customer was angry. How did you resolve the situation?
  • Do you prefer to work in teams or individually?
  • In your previous positions, what kind of supervisor did you get along with better?
  • What motivates you?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • Tell me how you organize your professional life?
  • What do you consider as an important attributes of a supervisor?
  • Give an example of a time when you had to make a quick decision.
  • Tell me about some of your experiences of organizing something (for example, setting up meetings, conferences, banquets, etc.)
  • Why should you be hired for this position?
  • What do you think are the most important qualities we should look for in someone to fill this particular position?
  • What kind of direction you prefer from a supervisor?
  • What kind of supervisor you enjoy working with the most and least?
  • Give an example of a problem you faced on a job and describe how you solved it.
  • What are some examples of important types of decisions or recommendations you are called upon to make in your past/present position?
  • How would you characterize your written and oral communication skills?
  • Name one recent success you’ve had in dealing with an unhappy student, co-worker, patient, vendor, etc. How did you accomplish it?
  • What role do you usually take in a group meeting or discussion?
  • Give an example of a time when you were able to build motivation in your co-workers or subordinates at work.
  • Describe a situation in which you were able to influence the actions of others in the desired direction positively.
  • How do you typically handle yourself in a fast-paced environment? Please provide an example.
  • What responsibility do you have for budgeting? What budgeting method you mostly use?
  • What experience you have in graphic design and desktop publishing? Please provide samples.
  • When creating Web documents, what tools do you use? What kind of experience do you have with HTML editors, Plain text editors and Web site management?

Things to Know

  • With informational interviews or job interviews, you should always be prepared for the actual process. First impressions last long – be professional. Here are some tips to remember when the interview is going on.
  • Conduct proper research about the company that will interview you.
  • Write down relevant questions to ask from the interviewer.
  • Dress neatly and professionally. A suit is always preferred, either blue or black.
  • Maintain a good level of energy and stay attentive throughout the process.
  • Avoid too much make-up, jewelry and cologne. Do not bring cell phones or pagers.
  • Always keep a notepad and pen to jot down information or list the questions you want to ask.
  • Take several copies of your résumé and references if more than one person will interview you.
  • It is best to maintain eye contact with the people who are observing you.
  • Make a list of your qualities and attributes before going into an interview so they will be fresh in your mind.
  • Be confident! Employers will notice this and will be more impressed. (If you are not confident, act as if you are. Others must not see how nervous you really are.)
  • Listen actively and form answers in your mind making sure you do not interrupt anyone.
  • Remain focused on the people in front of you and their words.
  • Do not ask about the benefits in the first interview —employers will think that it is the only thing you are interested in.
  • Adapt your resume and cover letter to fit the job description.
  • Always follow up with a personal thank you note.

How to Dress for Success

It is important to dress appropriately for an interview because first impressions can make or break an interview in the first minute. Employers are looking for individuals who will represent their company or organization well. They want a professional person to do a great job. Employers desire an employee who can work well with internal and external clients and dress sense can communicate that. Your looks will reflect your personality. Martin Yate, Knock ‘em Dean 2002, states, “Your overall appearance and presentation may even leave a more tangible impression than the words you say since memory is rooted most strongly in pictures and impressions.”

You must find out about the dress code of the organization you are visiting. For example, banks have a different dress code than call centers. If the organization’s dress code is less formal you must follow that.

DOs

  • Choose a decent dress for an interview. This goes for both men and women.
  • Better wear a suit as it is an appropriate style for an interview. Communicate with reliability and pay attention to detail. Choose neutral colours such as blue or black.
  • Be sure your hair is neatly combed and styled. Women may choose to wear a clip or band.
  • Make sure your shoes are clean and polished.

According to Knock ‘em Dead, men should abide by three rules:

  • Always wear a long-sleeved shirt.
  • Always wear a white, cream, or pale-blue shirt.
  • Never violate the rules.

Women need to consider many other factors: make up, jewelry, pantyhose, and accessories. Make a decent choice on these issues because too much of these can make you presence awkward.

DON’Ts

  • Don’t wear shorts or tank tops.
  • Make sure your dress doesn’t reveal your inner wear.
  • Don’t wear too much makeup.
  • Don’t wear bright or neon colored nail polish or lipstick.
  • Don’t show piercings on the face.
  • Don’t wear too much perfume or cologne.
  • Don’t wear low neckline shirts, those that show your midriff, sheer or baggy clothing, or T-shirts.

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