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Interviews differ depending on the purpose and where they are held. On-campus interviews are usually half-hour interviews conducted by professional interviewers who are screening candidates for additional interviews. A positive on-campus interview can result in an invitation for a selection interview at the employment site. Off-campus interviews that you develop on your own may be very different in length and type of person interviewing you. Interviews conducted at personnel offices are typically screening interviews similar to on-campus ones, while interviews with department heads are more likely to be longer, less structured selection interviews.

Interview Formats

1. Screening:

* Done by a person well trained in the act of interviewing.
* Purpose is to week out candidates to cut down on work of hiring person.
* May be brief (half-hour).
* Based primarily on facts - follow the interviewer’s lead.
* May be done on-campus, in personnel offices, by school systems or large companies, etc.

2. On-Site:

* Often involves a whole day or longer.
* Offers you the opportunity to see the physical plant.
* You will be meeting different people within the organization who will have input into the hiring decision.

3. One-on-One:

* Usually with the person who will make the hiring decision.
* Fifty percent of supervisors who interview have no professional training in interviewing.

4. Panel:

* Less subjective - better odds at overcoming an individual bias.
* Can get a better idea of how the staff works together.
* Greater chance of anxiety if you are not expecting this.
* Questions may be more rapidly paced because they can frame questions while you’re answering someone else.
* It is more difficult to achieve feelings of rapport
* You should maintain eye contact and involve everybody; be professional; smile.
* Answer one question at a time and ask if you can jot down notes.

Before Interview

(The interview starts long before you appear in the interviewer’s office.)

1) Research the Employer-
Thoroughly research the organization to impress those with whom you meet and allow more time for you to tell your story and discuss specifics of the position. Some of the information you will want to know includes:

* Product line or service - be able to explain what the company does
* Size of organization
* Location of facilities
* Structure of organization - by product line, function, past, current & potential growth
* Types of clients
* Potential markets, products, services
* Price of products or services
* Present price of stock
* Structure of assets
* Who the competition is
* Name of recruiter
* Training provisions
* Relocation policies
* Length of time in assignments
* Recent items in the news
* Others you know in the organization

It is also important to research issues, trends, problems, and jargon of the field. Such information can be obtained from people in the field, company literature, public and career libraries, trade journals, newsletters, business magazines, and directories. Prepare a list of well-researched questions for the interviewer.

2) Know Yourself -

* Analyze your strengths and weaknesses and know exactly what you want to say and do not want to say during the interview.
* Evaluate problem areas in your record and be prepared to offer a strong case for these during the interview, if necessary. Do not volunteer negative information about yourself or a former employment situation.
* Write out answers to possible questions from the interviewer, as a practice activity. Do a mock interview with a staff member at the Harrington Center, a friend, or relative.

3) Prepare Yourself -

* Do you best to find out the name, role, and level of responsibility of each individual with whom you are to meet.
* Know exactly how to get to the organization and be prepared to arrive early and stay late. Don’t schedule other things that will have you “clock watching.”
* Dress to project an image of confidence and success; your total appearance should be appropriate to the job.
* Prepare to bring additional materials to the interview such as copies of your resume, a list of references, samples of your work, or transcripts.

During Interview

Before the interview you should have considered WHAT you want to communicate and HOW you are going to communicate. What you will want to communicate are: personal qualities, functional skills, and special areas of knowledge that relate to the particular interviewer or organization. Your attitude, nonverbal behaviors and verbal responses indicate how you communicate those personal attributes and background facts.

Your first task will be to help build rapport with the interviewer(s). The characteristics of building rapport involve your (1) attitude and (2) nonverbal and (3) verbal behaviors.

(1) Your attitude should be one of openness or sensitivity to interviewer’s style and a feeling of mutual responsibility for creating a comfortable atmosphere, establishing a common ground. You should be thinking positively. (If you don’t think you are the best candidate for the job, how can you hope to convince the employer you are?)

(2) The nonverbal behaviors that contribute to rapport are: dress and posture, eye contact, handshake, voice level, and gestures.

(3) The verbal behaviors contributing to rapport building include: courteous observations, initiation of discussion, disclosure of personal qualities.

Be aware of your body language, how you communicate non-verbally. You will want to convey sincerity, a dedication to achievement, confidence and a high energy level. These attributes are communicated through your attitude and actions as well as through your verbal responses.

Congruence between the nonverbal and verbal messages is very important to an effective interview. The nonverbal behaviors that are important in an interview include:

* Eye contact that should be open and direct when listening, asking and responding to questions.
* Eye contact is usually broken when concentrating or reflecting on what you want to say or what was said.
* Posture that should be well balanced, erect, relaxed, straight on and open. Know your nervous habits and practice controlling them.
* Hands which should be used in a relaxed way for animation, communicating excitement, interest.
* Facial expression which coveys your sincerity and can add to or detract from your words.
* Voice tone that should be firm, warm, well modulated and relaxed.
* Timing which involves your use of silence, and comfort with pauses.
* Active listening which affects how you respond and communicates your interest. This is difficult when you’re nervous-so concentrate!

How you communicate verbally involves your ability:

* To use active verbs.
* To use concrete examples.
* To be concise and complete.
* To summarize and make transitions.
* To be positive and “own” what you have done and what you know.

Your knowledge of what contributes to a “strong answer” also contributes to effectiveness. A strong answer does not create more questions than it answers. The components of a strong answer include:

* Backing up a statement with a specific example.
* Sharing your role (the challenges and accomplishments).
* Sharing the outcome or solution.
* Summarizing to emphasize your strengths.

Strong answers can also be described as frank, open, thoughtful, complete, concise (complete your thoughts efficiently-know when to stop) and “uncanned”.

Be ready to ask questions from your prepared list. Techniques for asking good questions begin with the use of who, what, when, where, why, and how. Questions should be developed ahead of time and should reflect the amount of research you have done rather than your lack of research. Refer to the list of “questions to ask” to help you develop your own list.

Salary questions are usually inappropriate in the first interview. However, you should research the salary range for the job/field ahead of time, consider how much the job is worth to you, and recognize that the pay raise structure of an organization is just as important as the entry level rate in assessing an offer.

Be alert to and evaluate management style, organizational structure, turnover, job responsibilities and growth potential, work atmosphere, staff/supervisor and coworker relationships.

At the end of the interview set parameters for the next contact.

* State positive feeling-”I’m very interested. When may I expect to hear from you?”
* “What is the next step in the process?”

10 Important Tips to help your next Interview leads to your next Job

1. Do your homework. Research the company beforehand so that you can showcase that knowledge during the interview. This will boost your credibility with the interviewer and will help you to formulate intelligent questions to ask him or her.

2. Know where you’re going. Make sure to find out where the office is and how to get there. Do you know how long the trip will take? Do you have the name and phone number of the person you’ll be meeting with? Do you know how easy it is to park? Save yourself time and unnecessary stress by figuring these things out before heading to the interview.

3. Look the part. Your clothing should be neat, pressed, and professional looking. As it can be difficult to know the culture of the office environment beforehand, err on the side of conservative. Even if everyone’s wearing jeans when you arrive, you’re still probably better off having shown up in a suit. However, don’t be afraid to inject some personality into your look, and don’t neglect the details: make sure to have a fresh haircut and clean, manicured nails.

4. Rehearse beforehand. Prior to your interview, prepare answers to common questions the interviewer is likely to ask, such as What are your strengths and weaknesses? Why do you want to work here? Why should we hire you? and the ever popular Tell me about yourself. Conduct a mock interview with a trusted friend as practice.

5. Secure your references. Find at least three key people — former supervisors, colleagues, or instructors — who are willing to serve as your professional references. Be sure to secure their permission beforehand, and be certain that they will speak highly of you if contacted by a potential employer.

6. Arrive early. Be sure to arrive at least 15 minutes before the interview. Visit the restroom and check your appearance in the mirror. Announce yourself to the receptionist to let him or her know that you have arrived and that you have an appointment. Turn your cell phone off so it doesn’t ring during your meeting.

7. Bring necessary documentation. Make a checklist of documents you will need for the interview and make sure you have them in your briefcase before leaving home. These documents may include extra copies of your résumé, a passport, driver’s license, Social Security card, or portfolio of writing samples or other professional work. If you are a recent graduate, you should also bring along your college transcripts.

8. Sell yourself. The interview is your chance to shine, so now is not the time to be humble. Develop a 25-second sales pitch that sings your praises. In business this is called an “elevator speech,” a compelling overview of why you? that can be recited in the time it takes to ride the elevator. It should include your strengths, your abilities, and what sets you uniquely apart from other applicants.

9. Don’t neglect to ask questions. Based on your earlier research, ask how the responsibilities of the open position relate to the company’s goals and plans for the future. Interviewers are often favorably impressed by candidates who show they’ve done their homework and are knowledgeable about the organization.

10. Follow up. After the interview, don’t forget to send a handwritten note or friendly email thanking the interviewer for his or her time and consideration, as well as restating your interest and commitment to the position. If you don’t hear anything after one week, call to politely inquire when they will be making a final decision.

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