It is important to remember that this is a selling situation – you must realize that you won’t get an offer unless you are able to convey to the interviewer that you are both qualified and interested.
Remember: Your objective in taking an interview is to get the offer so that you are able to make an informed decision about the opportunity.
Understand that the selection process is a two-way street. You are as interested in making the right choice as the hiring manager is.
Conduct thorough research on two fronts:
1. Check the company’s website, do an online search of newspaper and trade publication articles and/or ask the internal contact person to send background materials.
2. Ask whoever is setting up the interview–whether it’s your recruiter, an HR person or the hiring manager’s assistant–about the person’s personality, managerial style and what you should know about him or her in advance.
Use the research to strengthen your case. Interviewers like to know that you’ve done your homework and, in fact, expect it. They may well ask questions designed to reveal what you’ve done by way of research. If they don’t ask, you can drop bits of research as appropriate.
Arrive EARLY, be ON TIME. Plan to arrive at the location at least 10-15 minutes early, but announce yourself on time.
Anticipate questions and prepare your responses, particularly for difficult questions.
During the Interview
Listen, observe, assess and respond — watch for facial and verbal cues about the interviewer’s style so you can both fall into a comfortable conversational pattern.
Create chemistry, not conflict. Your goal is to get as many job offers as possible so you can control your job search. This is an art but not an exact science.
Do NOT speak poorly about previous employers or job experiences. You will immediately be perceived as negative and your potential employer may assume that you will speak about them in that way also.
Early in the interview find out any details you can on the person you are talking to and look for opportunities to relate. For example, you might ask “What was your background before you came here?”
The most critical question you can ask during an interview is “In your opinion, what are the key skills required to be successful in this position?” At this point, stop talking and listen (2/3 listening, 1/3 talking). He/She will tell you everything you need to know to sell yourself for this position.
Make sure to relate your past experience directly to the position.
Finishing the Interview
A good question to ask a potential employer: “Is there any area of my experience I might further clarify for you?” This is your chance to resell and resolve any miscommunications or misunderstandings.
If you are interested in the position, tell them and explain why you are interested and why you feel that you would be a good fit.
Be sure to get the name, title, and business card (when applicable) of the people that you interview with. Timely “Thank you” emails or, even better, a handwritten Thank You note is highly recommended.
Wrapping up the interview, ask the interviewer what the next steps are.