16 Steps To A Successful Interview

  1. First impressions are made in the first 30 seconds! Make sure it is a good one! Greet everyone with a smile and a firm handshake.  Dress professionally and immaculately.  If you are not sure if it is a professional office or a business casual office; choosing to wear a dark, cheap well-pressed suit, white shirt, and polished shoes is always a winner!  Avoid too much jewelry, power ties, strong perfume, or overuse of aftershave lotion.
  1. Come 10 minutes early and come prepared.
  1. Always go into an interview believing that this is the only position you want.   Relate your achievements as they apply to the opening and what you can do for them.  The better the job you do selling yourself and your capabilities, the better the offer.  Once the offer is extended, then and only then do you have something to consider.
  1. Do your homework.  Always research the industry, the company, the hiring manager, and the position for which you will be interviewing.  Your professional recruiter will provide you with much of this information.  Visit your local library to obtain the latest annual report on the company.
  1. Target your skills to meet the needs of the company.  Before you attempt to sell yourself, listen first to the valuable information given during the warm up stage of the interview about the company’s needs and the skills required for the position.  Then target yourself to their needs and desires.
  1. Be enthusiastic – it is contagious.  Good personal chemistry is one of the most common reasons for being hired.  Always express your genuine interest and excitement about the position, the company, and their goals.  Project self-confidence by speaking positively about your abilities, related experience, and willingness to acquire new skills.
  1. The goal of an interview is to go to the next step.  The next step might mean a second interview, a job offer, or perhaps upon closer evaluation, the position turns out to be a poor match.  A good rule of thumb is to expect nothing, but be prepared for everything. You could be offered the position on the spot.
  1. Everyone you meet is an integral part of the hiring process – treat them with respect!  You could have a personal interview with as many as 12 people.  At many companies, everyone you interview with from Human Resources to the President must be confident that you are qualified to do the job and that you will fit into their corporate culture.
  1. If you are interviewing with new faces, pretend they know nothing about you.  Start from scratch and resell who you are and what can do for their organization.  Do not assume that they know anything you told the last interviewer.
  1. Start personal interviews with a warm-up, get acquainted stage.  Engage the interviewer in an informal conversational manner.  Try to connect in a chatty way in order to get both of you to relax.  Ask the interviewer professionally related personal questions, which should help you, target your responses when the more formal Q&A begins.
  1. Never criticize an employer.  Always speak positively about present and former employers and related experiences.  It is inappropriate and dangerous to complain about a former supervisor or previous situation.  If you must discuss negative experiences, do so from the viewpoint of their educational value.  Relate your work experience directly to the needs of the organization.  Examples of past accomplishments effectively demonstrate your abilities.
  1. Communicate in an articulate, organized manner, being concise in your answers.  Ask a clarifying “either/or” question if you are unsure of the appropriate answer they are seeking.
  1. Body language is a silent seller.  Sit up straight, do not slouch or cross your arms defensively.  Maintain eye contact without staring.  Do not lose eye contact when you are asked a difficult question; otherwise, your answer might be perceived as evasive and perhaps untrue.  Do not smoke or chew gum.  Avoid nervous habits.
  1. If asked questions about your personal life, use them as opportunities to emphasize how well you balance your personal and professional life, keeping your answers related.
  1. The question and answer stage will take up most of the interview, especially if you ask open-ended questions to learn more about their needs prior to answering penetrating questions.  Before answering a question, make absolutely sure you understand the question.  A good technique is to repeat the question and ask the hiring manager for clarification, perhaps to restate the question in another way.  There is nothing worse than giving a quick wrong answer to a question you do not really understand.
  1. Ask the closing question:  “Is there anything in my background, or anything we discussed today that would keep us from going to the next step?”  If the response is positive, express your enthusiasm and restate your interest in the position.  Then determine how to proceed to the next step. If the response is negative, attempt to address the issues, and then return to the closing question.  At the very least, if you can learn something constructive from each interview, you should consider it a success.  This new found knowledge should assist you to do better in future interviews.