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Interview Preparation

However cliché, it is true that interviewing is an art. A first interview is the only time you have to make a lasting, positive impression and present yourself as a viable employee. Appearance, conduct, consideration and preparation all hold equal weight in creating a favorable impression.

This page is designed to give the candidate insight on how to best prepare and conduct one’s self in an interview situation. As obvious as some of this information may seem, it is a very important review in the art of interviewing.

Almost more importantly than knowing what to do in an interview is understanding what NOT to do.

The following is a list of common interviewing mistakes to be avoided:

  • Never arrive late for the interview. Not arriving on time suggests that you are not serious about the opportunity, and, therefore, the wrong person for the job. When completion of documentation, such as an application, is required prior to the interview be sure to arrive twenty to thirty minutes early to allow time for completion.
  • Poor or casual personal appearance is never acceptable in a first interview. Always dress professionally, even if the place of interview requires casual dress for their employees.
  • Smoking, chewing gum, or placing personal objects on the interviewer's desk is very distracting and unacceptable.
  • Lack of interest and enthusiasm is one of the biggest turn-offs for the interviewer. If you are passive or show indifference about the opportunity the interviewer will reciprocate with the same level of interest.
  • Early or persistent emphasis on money is a definite negative, as is premature interest in benefits, vacation, etc.
  • Condemnation of past employers will only project badly on you.
  • A limp and unconfident handshake is a very poor and unexciting way to start the interview.
  • Lack of eye contact causes the interviewer to question your credibility and intentions.
  • Unwillingness to cooperate with the interview process is a red flag that you will be an uncooperative employee.
  • Lack of participation during the interview and not asking adequate questions about the job and leads to concern about future commitment.
  • Failure to express appreciate for the interviewer's time is extremely inconsiderate and raises concern about the person’s ability to work with others.
  • Indefinite responses to questions and inability to keep answers concise shows lack of confidence, goals and knowledge.
  • Overbearing and aggressive behavior or conceit shows lack of confidence, goals and knowledge.
  • Inability to express one’s self clearly with proper diction, tone and grammar shows lack of professionalism.
  • Lack of planning for the interview and/or lack of career goals leads the interviewer to believe the person is not serious about the opportunity or career success.
  • Lack of poise and confidence or acting nervous will cause the interviewer to believe you are the wrong person for the position.
  • Projecting unrealistic career goals such and expecting too much too soon can be very off-putting to an interviewer. Instead project realistic expectations in a realistic timeline.
  • Making excuses for past record and behavior will only cause the employer to have more suspicions about your credibility.
  • Ill timed indecision and hesitation will create an uncomfortable situation. It’s best to be prepared for most questions so you won’t linger too long while thinking of any one response.
  • A sloppy or incomplete application and/or resume suggests your work will be of similar caliber.
  • If you approach the interview as an obvious "shopper" the interviewer will know you are not sincerely interested and will eliminate your name from consideration.
  • If you have demonstrated a lack of commitment to past positions and are a “job-hopper”, have a reasonable explanation for your fickle past, as it will reflect poorly and can prohibit you from finding the right position.
  • Do not react defensively to criticism. If the interviewer feels compelled to share concerns, use it as an opportunity to dispel any preconceptions and emphasis your abilities.

The following paragraphs highlight important fundamentals for a positive interview:

Appearance - A dark, navy blue or black, suit is recommended for both men and women. Women should wear hosiery and closed toe shoes. Men should wear matching dark dress socks and polished dress shoes. It is important to not remove your jacket during the interview, even if the interviewer suggests you do so. Women should refrain from wearing heavy make-up and perfume. Men should refrain from wearing heavy cologne. Both men and women should refrain from wearing loudly colored or boldly patterned ties, bowties, scarves, or jewelry. Hair and fingernails should be groomed. Be sure to turn off all pagers and cellular phones before entering an interview.

Arrival at the interview - It is best to arrive no earlier than fifteen minutes prior to the interview unless suggested in order to complete associated documentation. Never arrive later than five minutes prior to the interview. Allow adequate time for navigating, traffic, parking and a last minute check before entering the interview. It is good to give yourself a few minutes to review your notes and plan before the meeting.

Resume - Know the content of your resume and be prepared to discuss in it detail. Bring a copy to leave with each interviewer. If appropriate bring along samples of your current work as long as it is not revealing of any proprietary information.

References - Most employers wish to receive three references. At least two should be from former supervisors or managers and one from a former coworker. Include the references’ names and places of current employment as well as their home and work phone numbers. Always consult with references in advance to receive their consent and ensure their remarks will be positive. Never provide a personal reference unless asked.

Other Items - Always bring a pen and paper to record notes. Have an available a list of prepared questions which can be referred to throughout the interview. Bring directions to the location of the interview as well as any associated phone numbers such as the interviewer's cellular phone number or the interviewer's assistant's phone number should you require further directions. Bring your recruiter's phone number so you can call directly after the interview and debrief.

Closing the interview - Closing an interview is a good way to help eliminate post-interview doubts that tend to concern most candidates. Too many people leave an interview without asking important questions that offer closure to the situation. If at the conclusion of an interview you wish to move to the next stage, always express your intent to the interviewer. Ask if there are reasons the interviewer would believe you wouldn't be a good choice for the position.

Here is an example of an assertive closing statement that also welcomes further discussion:
"After receiving a thorough description of the responsibilities and the position I feel I possess the skills necessary to succeed in this role. Based on our discussion, and my qualifications, do you have any concerns that would lead you to disagree?"

Asking this question should allow the interviewer to be honest with you about his or her thoughts about your abilities. If concerns should be addressed you now have the opportunity to overcome them before leaving the interview. This gives you a final chance to dispel concerns and leave the interview on a positive note.

Never leave an interview without adequately answering "why you are interested in the job" and "what you can offer". Before you leave always ask for the interviewer's business card so you can write a thank you note no later than 24 hours after the interview.




Encore Solutions, Inc.
9816 W.Freiburg Drive #B
Littleton, CO 80127
Phone: 720-420-9696
bschleifman@encoresolutions.net

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