The following steps are useful for preparing for both telephone and in-person interviews. Remember the more research you do, the better prepared you will feel and the more confident you will be that you can answer any question put to you during the interview.
In many ways the hard part is just beginning. Now that you’ve been invited to the interview with the company you want to work for, you must be prepared. The first step in the preparation is to learn all you can about the company you want to work for: what the make or what service they sell, how profitable they were last year, are sales projections going up or down, is the company entering a new market space where your unique skills and abilities may help them? You need to find out the answers to these and many more questions because future employers want to know that you’ve taken time to find out about their company and understand what they do and where they do it. You will also have the chance to use this knowledge during the interview when you can confidently assert that your skills will fit in well with the companies new project line or new market.
To be really successful during the interview you need to spend some time thinking about what the interviewer may ask during the interview. Interviewers are very busy people and the hiring process is very time consuming for them, so they try to make the most efficient use of the time during the interview by focusing on those questions which will help them focus on the candidate who best fits the needs of the company.
In order for you to be this candidate you need to anticipate what the questions the interviewer will ask and then construct your answers to be concise yet provide the necessary information. The hiring manager is generally looking for three things in the candidate: experience, aptitude and intelligence, and a gut reaction. While you have no control of the latter, you can be prepared to demonstrate and expound upon your experience, aptitude and intelligence.
There are too many possible questions to cover on the website. We recommend you come to the career resources center and consult some of the books on interviewing in the career resources collection.
Your preparation in step 1 will give you a lot of information about your potential employer but it will not reveal everything you want to know. Most good interviews are conversations with a purpose. There is give and take on both sides but somewhere in the interview, usually toward the end, the interviewer will ask you if you have any questions. This is really another important part of the interview because it is in this phase that the interviewer will determine how much interest you’ve taken in the company prior to the interview.
Most hiring managers have reported that if a candidate answers “no, I don’t have any questions” they are almost immediately dropped from the list of potential candidates. Why is this? Because it shows the candidate did not care enough to spend any time learning about the job and company. You want to avoid this mistake so you spend some time thinking about what you would like to know from the potential employer.
You should, of course, avoid any questions about salary, benefits, perks or vacations at this stage of the process. Only after you are offered the job should the issue of salary and benefits be raised. There are many other areas, however, where you can demonstrate your interest in the company by asking insightful questions.
As in the previous section on interview questions, the type of questions you should ask of a potential new employer is very broad. The books in career resources center can provide you with a number of questions you can use in different situations.