Interviewing Strategies

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What to Wear

If you can, visit the location or watch as they arrive or leave work to see how current employees (including bosses) dress. Keep in mind that you don't want anything distracting the interviewer from evaluating your skills or your abilities.

Clothing, hairstyles and accessories must fit the company image and the job you are applying for.

Conservatism is always in good taste. Your image is set with the interviewer within the first twenty seconds.

Hosiery conservative. Women should carry a spare set.

Fragrances and flashy jewelry are distracting.

Teeth brushed. Use a mint just before your interview.

Hair clean, conservatively cut and combed.

Nails trimmed and clean. Clear or light polish for women.

Shave for the men. Shadow beards are for the movies.

Professional Dressing


· Wear a suit or skirt and tailored blazer, dress, or dress with jacket; in conservative style, color and fabric.

· Keep makeup and accessories to a minimum.

· No fragrances. Clear or light colored nail polish

· Lower heel shoes in the event that an extended tour of the facility is part of the interview.


· Wear a suit; blue or gray, conservative. For a more casual job; slacks and shirt with tie is acceptable.

· Shirts of solid color, preferable white. Ties with conservative small pattern or stripes, shoes shined.

· Shave, no fragrances, hair clean, neatly trimmed, no flashy jewelry or earrings, nails clean and trimmed.


It is an accepted fact that many interviewers make decisions about an applicant during the first five minutes and spend the rest of the time justifying that decision. Be ready to take advantage of that very small amount of time to make the right impression. You will be successful if you have done your research and practice.

Types of Interviews

Screening Interviews

These interviews are performed to screen out individuals who don't meet the company requirements- by comparing your qualifications with job requirements.

· Treat screeners as though they were making the final decision - they are deciding if you will go to the next step.

· Use the information you gain to your advantage in subsequent interviews.

· Your main purpose is to make a good impression. The company will be looking for someone who can solve problems and be a productive member of their team.

One on One

Most often used by companies

· Informal: Interviewer has a general idea of what to ask, but follows the trend of the conversation rather than any preset list of questions.

· Structured: Questions are written out, based on job requirements and will be asked of every applicant. This is often a longer interview since all questions must be asked of all candidates and then compared.

· Unstructured: After one or two questions, the interviewer may sit back and wait for you to make the next move. Ask questions about the job or the company and after an answer, respond with how your strengths and interests match.

· Sequential: Interviewing with several people one at a time. Handle this as though each one was the only one, even if it means many things will be repeated.


You will likely meet with more than one person at a time.

· Teamwork is important. They want to see how effective you are as part of a group.

· Start your answer by looking at the questioner. Then make eye contact with each member of the group as you speak.

· Don't assume the questioner is the decision maker. Try to figure out the power structure within the group, but don't let it distract you.

Practice Everything

This can not be stressed enough. The more you go through the entire scenario, actually practicing the greeting, standing, sitting, saying the words aloud as well as picturing it in your mind, the more comfortable you will be and the more effective your presentation.

· Getting to the interview. If possible, make a trial trip to anticipate traffic or parking problems. If you are taking public transportation, allow time for delays.

· Different settings. Test chairs and sofas, sitting across a desk or table, or side by side with someone. See how the clothes you plan to wear are affected (slide up, open up or are pulled up) by various seating positions and how you will be able to make notes in each situation.

· Answering questions. Practice short, summary type answers for questions which begin with words like, "Summarize for me ..." or "Give me a brief recap of ...." as well as specific details to add to questions like, "Give me an example of a problem you've had and how you handled it'd., or Tell me some specific details about...". Be confident and concise, but not so brief that important information is omitted.

· Rehearse with others. Ask a friend or family member to role-play the interviewer. Go through several interviews this way with notes. Memorize and practice the answers to questions until they sound natural and unrehearsed. The more you tell your story, the more relaxed and adaptable you will be. A tape recorder or video recorder can give you valuable feedback.

· Facts about the company. Find information about the company and decide how you will use it in the interview. Information may be available at the local library under corporations or in newspaper or periodical articles. Include how your achievements fit the company objectives.

· Questions you will ask. Do ask questions It shows your interest. The best questions are about the job, the company, expectations and other related areas.

· What to take to the interview. Extra copies of your resume, paper and pen, reference letters, work samples, dates, addresses, reminder notes.

Be Prepared

· Arrive before the actual interview time. Usually 10 minutes before your appointment is about right. Give yourself time to avoid traffic, to park, and to walk to the office area.

· Bring extra resume copies and bring your notes on the company, your questions, contact numbers of references.

· Be friendly to the receptionist. Be pleasant and thank the interviewer for their help. Don't assume the interviewer has time to visit with you.

· Take the opportunity to look around. See how the work area is organized and how the employees treat each other, customers or vendors.

· Review any information you have with you. Go through one final rehearsal in your mind.

· Greet the interviewer with a firm handshake and a smile. Repeat his or her name along with your appreciation for the opportunity to interview.


Even if you have a resume, you may be asked to complete the company's application form. Do this even though the information will be duplicated. They are looking for how well you complete a document, how well you follow instructions, and whether the information is consistent.

· Read through the application first. Determine what they are asking for. If the application say's "print", don't write.

· Don't leave blanks or say "see resume." Be as specific as possible. Have notes and/or extra resume copies with you to be accurate.

· Read the disclaimers at the end of the application. These usually have to do with references, employment requirements and other information. Sign the application and be prepared to follow the rules.

Non-Verbal Language

· Handshake: Always shake hands; use firm, but not crushing pressure. Also appropriate at the conclusion of the interview regardless of whether you are pleased or disappointed.

· Eye contact: Be natural, as with any conversation. Avoiding contact can be read as a sign you are not interested or too shy to handle a job which requires working effectively with others.

· Sitting: Choose a chair closest to the interviewer; sit comfortably, but don't slouch. Leaning slightly forward shows interest, but don't lean on the desk.

· Gestures: Use hands naturally to make a point. Don't cover your mouth as you speak or twist your hands together.

Expect The Unexpected

·Being late. Phone, if possible. If not, apologize and ask if they can see you or reschedule.

·Wrong date, time or place. Apologize and try to reschedule. Send a letter indicating this is an unusual mistake.

·Interviewer being interrupted. Be patient, make a note where the conversation was stopped. Stay alert.

·Off the wall questions. Such as your favorite color, movie, dinner guest, animal, etc. Answer the best you can; try to determine if the interviewer is trying to put you at ease, having some fun or seeing if you can "think on your feet."

·Illegal questions. (Questions that could be interpreted as biased against women, minorities, seniors or disabled.) May be testing your reaction or may not know it's illegal. It is up to you if you want to question the job relatedness or to answer. It would probably not be advisable to enter into a legality hassle at this time or with this interviewer.

·Getting caught in a contradiction. Be honest that one or the other answer might have been an error due to stressor misunderstanding the question.

·Changing answers. It's OK when necessary. You may need to add, clarify or qualify a previous answer. When your mind goes blank. Ask the interviewer to repeat the question or restate it. They understand stress.

When It Is Your Turn To Ask Questions

· Company Questions. What's the company's future? Is there a realistic career path? How does my department fit into the plan? What are the hours, co-workers, policies, etc.

· Job Questions. Is this a new or replacement job? Is there formal training? What kind? How much? Who pays for the training? Is there a probationary or tryout period? How do my responsibilities fit in?

· Salary Questions. These questions are usually reserved for the second interview. Be realistic about an offer. Is there a bonus or commission in addition to the salary? How does it work? Is the salary at or above what others are getting for the same or similar jobs and experience. (More research for you).

· Benefits Questions. Company benefits are often worth from 25% to 50% or more of the cash salary offer and are important to consider. When will you be eligible for each plan? Do you have a choice of the benefits available? How much of the premium do you pay?

Follow Up

Follow-up is often neglected, but it's just as important as research before an interview. You have an opportunity to help swing things your way when the interviewer needs a push.

· During the Interview think about how you will follow up. Write down names and titles, job duties and major points discussed.

· After the Interview. As soon as you can, make additional notes on important points & anything needing strengthening or explanation. Write the interviewer on the same day, but not later than the next!

· Follow-up Letter. One page long, expressing your thanks for the interview. State your interest in the job and a brief recap of how your qualifications meet the company's needs. Close with another statement of appreciation, your belief that you can perform the job successfully and you are looking forward to hearing from the interviewer, or that you will call at a specific time to follow up.

· Follow-up Telephone Call. Sometimes a call can move things along. Remember that a phone call must be planned and organized just like a letter or an interview. Write a script and keep it short and businesslike.

· When you have sent a follow-up letter and have not heard back for a couple of weeks, a call may generate some interest or an answer about whether you are in the running.

· When you have received another job offer and want to see if this company is serious about you and your qualifications.

· When something affecting your application has changed and you want to make the company aware.

· If not chosen ask the interviewer to help you understand why you were not the one. Listen and make notes. Show you understand the reasons & if you think you can overcome them say you still believe you are the right candidate ask for a second interview. If you get a second interview - rehearse often.

Questions Frequently Asked
During an Interview

Tell me about yourself?

How would you describe yourself?

How do you get along with people?

Please tell me about your background?

Why do you think you would like to work for our firm?

What do you believe are your strongest qualities?

What do you believe are your weakest qualities?

How long would it take you to make a contribution to the company?

Why have you changed jobs so often?

Explain your gaps in employment?

Why are you considering changing jobs now?

What are your most important skills? How can they be used here?

Have you had any accidents or illnesses that prevented you from working?

Have you encountered any health problems?

Describe what you know about our industry?

What do you see yourself doing in five years?

How long would you stay with us?

Why did you choose your particular field of work?

What are your ideas on salary?

What kind of boss do you prefer?

Can you take instructions without getting upset?

Do you prefer any specific geographic location? Why?

Do you like to travel?

Are you willing to go where the company sends you?

Do you like routine work?

Do you like regular hours?

Are you looking for a permanent or temporary job?

Do you have dependable transportation?

Will you stay home from work if your children are sick?

Why did you leave your last job?

Have you ever been fired or asked to leave a job? Why?

May we contact your present employer?