Veterans, you know your resume has done its job when you get that coveted invitation to an interview. All that tweaking, modifying, editing, polishing and perfecting your resume and cover letter to within an inch of its life, has finally paid off. The rest now is really up to you.
There’s a lot that’s been said and written about interviewing, but throughout all the pearls of wisdom you may have heard or read about, there are a few that seem to stand the test of time.
Here are a few of them.
• Be Prepared, know some facts about the company. It will help you answer the question ‘Why do you want to work for us?’
• The interview is supposed to be a two-way conversation. Keep in mind that this is your chance to interview them as much as it is for them to interview you. You need to feel good about working for these people just as much as they need to feel good about having you work for them. Basically, you need to ask yourself, do I really want to work here?
• Timeliness; arrive 15-20 minutes early. It allows you to calm down internally, focus your attention and prepare yourself. It also allows you to study your environment, see how the workers interact with one another. Are they smiling, do they seem to enjoy their work and does it look like a place you’d like to be a part of and work in? • Dress; generally one step above position you’re applying for, clean appropriate attire. This does not mean that if you are an electrician you have to show up in a three-piece suit. It does mean that you arrive in attire appropriate for the job. • Avoid wearing perfume or cologne and no smoking on the way to the interview either. You don’t know the sensitivity of the interviewers so avoid the use of things that have a strong scent. • Turn off alarm watches and cell phones, better yet, leave your cell phone in the car and be courteous to your interviewers.
• Bring 5 copies of resume and references, pen and paper and portfolio if you have one. It demonstrates you are prepared. • Be on guard! You will be scrutinized from the second you walk in to the second you walk out.
• Avoid rambling on and on and don’t volunteer information. Answer their questions to the best of your ability, but end it there. You could inadvertently open a ‘can of worms’. • Never, ever bring the negative into the interview room… ever. It will reflect poorly on you and may taint the entire interview. • If you didn’t understand the question or missed it altogether, it is OK to ask them to repeat it. Better to do that than answer a question they didn’t ask. • Think back and be prepared to recall some stories that demonstrate your knowledge, skills and abilities. Use this formula; Situation, Action and Result. What was the situation, in which you failed, succeeded or discovered a weakness in yourself or the company and so on? What action did you take to alleviate or rectify the situation? What were the results of your actions? It’s not the situations that really matter, it’s the actions you took and the results of those actions that will grab an employers’ attention. The more comfortable you are in talking about yourself, the more polished and professional you will appear in an interview.
• There is so much more, but there is one very important step you must take and that is to follow-up with a thank you note to each member of the interview board. Be sure you send it out the day of the interview, but no later than the next. Be sure you do it! Aside from being courteous, it shows you really want the job. Look at it this way, if you’re the employer and you interview 30 people, if 3 people send you a thank you note, who really wants the job? Who would you want to interview again? • For more interviewing tips, please visit the Maine CareerCenter at http://www.mainecareercenter.com/interview_tips/, you’ll be glad you did.