The intelligent job seeker views interviewing as a logical process consisting of five stages.
Stage I: Pre-Interview
While an invitation to interview is a well-earned accomplishment, it is not the signal to start celebrating and stop campaigning.
Arriving at the right location at the designated time is essential. Plan to arrive about five to ten minutes early so that you may relax for a few moments in the outer office, collect your thoughts and be refreshed when you are called into interview.
Arriving late for the job interview is one of the worst things you can do. If for any reason you must be delayed, call the interviewer and explain the problem and ask for permission to arrive a little later or on another day. If you fail to call and explain and simply show up late, you may not be seriously considered further. Reliability is a critical behavior that is first demonstrated by your punctuality on the job interview.
Look professional when you arrive at the interview. You may choose to carry an attaché case or briefcase that includes your resume, paper and pen. Introduce your self to the receptionist and state the purpose of your business. If you are not absolutely certain of the pronunciation of the interviewer’s name, you may ask the receptionist.
Assume that your interview has begun the minute you walk into the office and await the interview. Office staff that will give feedback to the interviewer may observe you. You want that to be favorable.
Stage II: Interview Opening
In your greeting, use the interviewer’s name and apply a firm handshake. A favorable first impression can help a great deal in the interview. On the other hand, an unfavorable first impression can hurt.
The interviewer may attempt to put you at ease with “small talk” about a trip, some news event, or the weather. Respectfully react with appropriate discussions, but focus on keeping the dialog professional, not personal. The interviewer may start by telling you about conditions needs or problems around the company. Listen closely to this valuable information for a few minutes. Then, as soon as the opportunity allows, begin to inject your thoughts into the conversation. The interviewer may also begin by asking you to “tell me a little bit about yourself.” This is your opportunity to begin to talk about your skills and experiences, particularly as it relates to the job.
Stage III: Interview Development
This is the time you have to sell yourself. You may have limited interviewing time in which to present your case. Therefore, find an appropriate opportunity to begin talking about those things you want the interviewer to hear. Be sure to answer each question with more than just a “yes” or “no.” Give examples that support your responses. Discuss not only your skills and experiences, but your accomplishments as well. Try to match your skills and experiences with what the interviewer is looking for. If there isn’t an exact match, try to match as closely as you can your abilities with their needs. Throughout this stage of the interview, maintain a positive frame of mind and demonstrate your grasp of job getting interview techniques.
During the job interview, the interviewer makes a series of judgments and evaluations about your ability to do the job. All these judgments go toward forming the overall impression that plays a crucial role in the selection procedure.
Some of the factors that are particularly important in forming an overall impression are appearance, oral communication skills and interpersonal skills. Another factor that is seriously considered in the job interview is “fit.” This factor, however, is more complex, less evident, and more subjectively judged by interviewers than the three factors just mentioned. The interviewer wants to know your attitude toward, and feeling about, yourself, your past, the company, the job and the profession so that predictions about your future performance with the company can be made.
Stage IV: Interview Closing
As soon as you sense the interview coming to conclusion, start to close out the session on a “high note.” Use these last few minutes to (a) summarize a few key credentials in a final statement, (b) express enthusiasm about working for the company, and (c) express appreciation to the interviewer for an interesting time.
The interviewer will probably tell you the next step in the procedure. If the interviewer mentions nothing, however, you may raise the subject by saying, “What is the next step?” or “May I ask what your timeframe is for selection?” Before you leave the meeting, be certain that you have all the correct information concerning the next step in the selection procedure. If you have been told there is a next interview, find out where, when and with whom is the next interview.
Stage V: Post-Interview
Immediately following an interview, record the key points of the discussion - important and interesting remarks made by both you and the interviewer. Note the names and key comments of all other people you talked with while you visited the company.
Within a few days following the interview, send a “thank-you” letter to the interviewer. In it express appreciation, comment on key points of the discussion, allude to others you met in a complimentary manner, reiterate key credentials, and if new events have occurred during the intervening period, provide a brief update on these accomplishments. Such a follow-up letter shows thoughtfulness, perseverance and motivation.