Presenting Yourself Successfully - Before, During & After Your Job Interview




Presenting Yourself Successfully - Before, During & After Your Job Interview


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Presenting Yourself Successfully - Before, During & After Your Job Interview


Presenting Yourself Successfully - Before, During & After Your Job Interview

 Before Your Job Interview:

  • Learn all you can about the company or organization; learn as much as you can so that your questions are sophisticated and knowledgeable during the interview. Employers expect you to arrive knowing background information about the organization.  If you don't, you look like you're not really interested in the job.  You have to be able to answer the critical question of why you would like to work for that employer — and not sound like you would take any job. Research helps you formulate intelligent and appropriate questions to ask in your interview.
  • Be prepared to answer and ask questions. (see our sample questions)
  • Prepare your clothes for your interview, making sure they are business-like, clean, pressed and conservative; make sure your hair and nails trimmed and clean. Your attire should be noticed as being appropriate and well-fitting, but it should not take center stage. When in doubt, always dress more professionally rather than more casually. Dressing nicely and appropriately is a compliment to the person you meet, so if in doubt, err on the side of dressing better than you might need to. A two-piece matched suit is always the best choice for both men and women, in navy, gray or black.
  • Prepare papers for your interview, including extra copies of your resume, job reference lists, reference letters, legal pad for taking notes, and any other information that you may wish to have with you.


During Your Job Interview:

  • Arrive 10 to 15 minutes early. Don't take any chances that you might be even one minute late. If necessary, arrive 30 minutes early and wait in your car. 
  • Treat all people you encounter with professionalism and kindness. That receptionist or secretary or maintenance man may offer his or her opinion of you to the boss. It will count.
  • Don’t let the employer’s casual approach cause you to drop your manners or professionalism. You should maintain a professional image. Don't address the interviewer by his or her first name unless you are invited to. 
  • Don't chew gum or smell like smoke. Don't take cell phone calls during an interview. If you carry a cell phone, turn it off during the interview to be sure it doesn't ring.
  • Don't ever interrupt the interviewer, even if you are anxious and enthusiastic about answering the question.
  • Be aware of your non-verbal behaviors - sit straight, smile as often as you can, maintain eye contact but don't stare the interviewer down, lean forward but not invading the interviewer's space. Sit still in your seat; avoid fidgeting and slouching.
  • Don't be shy or self-effacing. You want to be enthusiastic, confident and energetic, but not aggressive, pushy or egotistic. That fine line is important. If you find yourself trying to hard to sell yourself, you are probably crossing the line. Instead, pull back, be confident and reassuring and calm.
  • Don't make negative comments about previous employers or professors (or others).
  • Listen very carefully to each question you are asked and give thoughtful, to-the-point and honest answers. Ask for clarification if you don't understand a question. It is OK to take a few moments of silence to gather your thoughts before answering. Try not to "beat around the bush" or take a long time to give the answer the interviewer is seeking.
  • Make sure you understand the employer's next step in the hiring process; know when and from whom you should expect to hear next. Know what action you are expected to take next, if any. Always thank the interviewer for his or her time at the close of the interview and establish a follow-up plan.
  • When the interviewer concludes the interview, offer a firm handshake and make eye contact. Depart gracefully.


After the Interview:

  • After the interview, make notes right away so you don't forget critical details.
  • If you are working with a search firm or recruiter, call that recruiter immediately while the facts of the interview are fresh on your mind. The recruiter will want to know what you thought went well and what you may have concerns about.
  • Always send a thank you letter to the interviewer immediately. If there were several people that interviewed you, send them each a thank you note. It is good to keep the letter short but to also reiterate your interest in the position and your confidence in your qualifications.
  • Don't call the employer back immediately. If the employer said they would have a decision in a week, it is OK to call them in a week, again to thank them for the interview and reiterate your interest.
  • If you receive word that another candidate was chosen, you may also send a follow-up letter to that employer, again thanking him or her for the opportunity to interview for the position. Let them know that should another or similar position open in the future, you would love to have the opportunity to interview again.

Successfully Answer Traditional Questions in Your Job Interview

 During an employment interview, the interviewer meets with potential employees to evaluate their skills, capabilities, and levels of experience.

When, as a prospective employee, you find yourself sitting in the hot seat, keep in mind that while there are no standard responses, your replies should be clear and relevant. Stopping in silence to gather your thoughts is not only helpful but wise.

To answer questions with poise, try to remember these tips:

  • Listen carefully. If you feel the question is unclear, ask politely for clarification.
  • Pause before answering to consider all facts that may substantiate your response.
  • Always offer positive information; avoid negativity at all times.
  • Get directly to the point. Ask if listener would like you to go into great detail before you do.
  • Discuss only the facts needed to respond to the question.
  • Focus and re-focus attention on your successes. Remember, the goal is not to have the right answers so much as it is to convince the interviewer that you are the right person.
  • Be truthful, but try not to offer unsolicited information.
  • Try not to open yourself to areas of questioning that could pose difficulties for you.

Every confident job hunter would like to think that "winging it" during an interview is the best policy, perhaps the most natural. However, we recommend that you do take some time to think through your answers to some common interview questions. Taking that time to formulate your answers and solidify your thoughts will give you more poise and security during the actual interview.


What would be your answers to these questions?

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • If you could have your choice of any job, what would it be and why?
  • Why do you want to go into this field?
  • What are your short- and long-range goals and how do you expect to achieve them?
  • What does success mean to you? How do you measure it?
  • What motivates you?
  • Do you plan to further your education? If so, to what extent?
  • What have you done to improve yourself during the past year?
  • If you could relive the last 15 years, what changes would you make?
  • Tell me about your greatest achievement and greatest disappointment?
  • What are some of your weaknesses?
  • Tell me about the best and worst bosses you've ever had.
  • How do you handle your reaction when you don't get what you want? Give me a couple of examples.
  • How do you handle stress?
  • How do you pull a team together when it seems to be going nowhere?
  • What qualities do you prize the most in those that report directly to you?
  • What type of people do you have the most trouble getting along with in the workplace, and, how do you handle it?
  • What constructive criticism have you received from employers?
  • Everybody has pet peeves. What are yours?
  • What else do you think I should know about you?

The interviewer will also want to learn about your experience and your reasons for seeking a new position and may ask the following questions:

  • When did you leave your last job and why?
  • How long have you been out of work?
  • At your last job, how much of the work did you perform independently?
  • What did you like most and least about your last job?
  • What are some of the problems you have encountered in your past jobs?
  • How did you solve the problems?
  • Do you prefer working independently or as part of a team?
  • At your last job, how much was performed by a team?
  • What prevented you from advancing in your former positions?
  • What have you been doing since you left your last job?

To learn about your plans for the future and your motivation for applying for the job, the interviewer may ask the following questions:

  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What do you expect to experience in this job that you did not experience in your past jobs?
  • How do you feel about evening work? Weekend work? Carrying a pager? Being on call?
  • Assuming we make you an offer, what do you see as your future here?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • Are you considering other positions at this time?
  • How does this job compare with them?
  • If you feel you have any weaknesses with regard to this job, what would they be?
  • What is your leadership style? Please give examples of this style in a real situation.
  • How do you feel about relocating?
  • What could you contribute to our facility?

Sometimes the interviewer will ask vague questions that, if unexpected, may be difficult to answer. Be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What weaknesses in your work habits do you think you need most to work on?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • Why do you believe that you are the best candidate for this job?
  • Why are you applying for a position for which you are obviously overqualified?
  • Why are you applying for a position for which you are obviously underqualified?
  • Why do you believe that you could handle this position?
  • Since you are overqualified for this position, what do you hope to gain from it?
  • What can you do for me?
  • You don't have the necessary experience or background for this position, so why would my organization benefit from having you in this role?
  • How soon would you be able to start this position if we offer it to you?

Eventually, money will become an issue. Among the questions that may arise pertaining to compensation are the following:

  • What exactly were you paid at your last job? (tell the absolute truth here; no other answer is appropriate)
  • What is the minimum salary you will accept?
  • What salary range are you wishing to be considered for?
  • What are your financial needs?


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