The Interview

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The moment you walk through the company door, you will be scrutinized. Hiring is extremely subjective, and influenced not just by your qualifications but by how well the employer and coworkers believe you will fit with the team.

  • Be friendly and courteous to every person you encounter — even in the restroom or elevator. When introducing yourself, say your first and last name. Make eye contact, smile, and give a firm handshake.
  • Watch for the interviewer’s cues for where you should sit, the pace of the conversation, the amount of small talk, etc.
  • Let the sparkling parts of your personality shine.

Maintain Good “Body Language”

  • Maintain good eye contact and nod your head appropriately.
  • Sit leaning slightly forward with your arms unfolded.
  • Avoid distracting hand movements and squirming in your chair.
  • Avoid thinking about your next answer — it distracts you from paying full attention.
  • If it seems appropriate, feel free to jot down a few notes.

Answer the Questions

Be concise and to the point. Make sure you answer the question that was asked, and ask for clarification if necessary. Demonstrate knowledge of yourself, the employer, and the position. Use examples or stories when appropriate. Always be friendly, confident, enthusiastic, and positive.

Illegal or inappropriate questions
Be prepared in the event your interviewer asks an illegal or inappropriate question about age, ethnicity, religion, race, citizenship, marital status, arrest records, or disabilities:

  • You can refuse to answer, or ask why the question is relevant. For example, you might say, “Could you help me understand how this is related to the position?” Or, “I’m not sure what you mean by this question?”
  • You can just answer the question if you choose, or address what you think is the underlying issue. For example, the question, “Do you have a family?” may be the interviewer’s clumsy way of asking if you can handle the nights, weekends, and travel the job requires. You can say, “I’m aware of the time commitment needed, and can assure you that I’m quite willing to put in the hours needed to do an excellent job.”

Ask Questions

Prepare a list of questions to ask the employer at the end of the interview to show you have done your homework and are truly interested in the job. Don’t ask questions you could have found on the website. Ask about new products, programs, services, events, mergers, etc. Other possibilities:

  • What are you looking for in a candidate?
  • What are some of the immediate challenges facing the organization? What will be the role of the person you hire in facing these challenges?
  • Tell me about the culture of the organization.

Don’t ask about salary or benefits at the interview, but be prepared to answer questions about salary history or expectations. Read more about salary.

Close Gracefully

Leaving a good impression is just as important as making a good first impression. Never leave an interview with an uneasy “I wish I had said …” feeling. Some good closing questions and actions:

  • Is there anything about my background and experience that we didn’t cover today that would be helpful for you to know?
  • What is the next step in the process? When do you expect to make a decision?
  • Thank the interviewer for his or her time, and shake everyone’s hand before you leave — again, make eye contact, and convey confidence!
  • Reiterate your interest in the position.
  • Your interviewer might end the interview with, “Is there anything else we should know about you?” Have a succinct and enthusiastic summary of your qualifications ready.
  • Ask for the business card of each person who interviews you, or ask your interview host for a list of your interviewers, for your thank-you notes.
Rebeccah Noble

Rebeccah’s Story

At first glance, Rebeccah Noble’s career as a realty clerk for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers might not fit with her undergraduate degree in educational ministry.

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