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Interview Tips


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Interview Tips


  In this section:

  -  Objective of the Interview

         Overview: Preparation

         Items to bring to the Interview

  -  Typical Interview Questions and Responses

         Questions for you to ask

  -  Interview Conclusion

         Thank you letter

  -  Eleven reasons for rejection




An interviewer has just one objective: to decide whether or not to make you a job offer.  While the interviewer will examine your work history and educational  background, your strengths and accomplishments will also be important criterion. He or she is also  interested in evaluating your level of motivation, values, attitude and  personality. In other words, to find out if you're the right person for the job, what your potential is for  promotion and whether or not you will fit into the company  environment.

The tips and techniques outlined herein have been tested, and they work!  They will improve your chances of receiving a job offer. Should you have any  questions about your upcoming interview, the company, the opportunity, or the suggestions printed herein, consult your Recruiter.


Know Yourself

  • What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?
  • What are your short and long-term goals?
  • Evaluate yourself in terms of the position you seek?
  • Formulate responses by asking the question: "Why should they hire me?"
  • Remember that you're there to sell yourself and secure a job offer.

Research the Company

  • Utilize the library to review annual reports, trade magazines and newspaper articles. The Internet offers a wealth of company information and industry statistics.
  • Know the company's products and services.
  • Be prepared to tell the interviewer why their company is attractive to you.

Items to Bring to the Interview


  • Use three former supervisors who are familiar with your work.
  • Include their name and company as well as home and work phone numbers.
  • Always consult with references for their approval and to ensure that their remarks are positive.


  • Review your resume thoroughly and be prepared to discuss all points.
  • Always bring a resume copy identical to the one supplied to the interviewer.
  • Bring along samples of your work, if possible. Never discuss or show proprietary information.

Other Items

  • Bring a folder and pen to the interview to jot down notes.
  • Prepare and review your questions as well as specific responses.
  • Bring directions to the interview location as well as the interviewer's phone number in case you're running late.
  • Bring along your recruiters phone number to give immediate feedback after the interview.

Arrival at the Interview

  • Arrive no earlier than fifteen minutes before the interview (but no later than five minutes prior to the interview).
  • Allow adequate time for traffic, parking and a last minute appearance check. If possible, scout out the location the day before the interview to avoid last minute problems.
  • Review your notes and go in with confidence.  If asked, complete an application. Complete the application in full and leave no blanks. Do not write "see resume" as a response to any application question.  List references if requested.  Your recruiter's name should be your response to any 'referred by" questions.


You should give complete but brief and relaxed answers to questions. When possible use questions as a basis for developing information that you want to make sure is presented.  Continue to sell yourself in a positive way.

  • Describe jobs in terms of duties and give indicators of good performance such as raises, sales volume, and promotions.
  • Include short stories involving problems or challenges and how you were able to solve or overcome them. Describe the results you achieved.

Exploring your Background Questions

Tell me about yourself.

  • Answer these questions in terms of the qualifications required of the position.
  • Keep responses concise and brief and avoid being derogatory or negative about previous jobs and bosses.
  • "Tell-me-about-yourself" means, "Tell me about your qualifications."  Prepare a one to two minute discussion of your qualifications.  Start with education and discuss your experiences.  Describe your performance (in raises, promotions, innovative designs, sales volume, increased profits, etc.)

What are your greatest strengths?

  • Interviewers like to hear abstract qualities.  Loyalty, willingness to work hard, eagerness, fast-learner, technical skills, politeness, and promptness, expressed in concrete terms are good examples.  Avoid the simple generalization "I like people."  It's not a good answer.

What are your greatest weaknesses?

  • Don't be intimidated.  The interviewer probably wants reassurance that hiring you won't be a mistake.  This is not the time to confess all of your imperfections.  (Do not state "not being able to go to work on Mondays", or "coming in late", etc.). Present your weaknesses as professional strengths, (i.e., "I sometimes work too hard to make sure things are done accurately").

What are your career goals?

Your answer should depend on a specific time frame:

  • Short term - "I want to be the best in my current position, while learning additional responsibilities.  This, in itself, will assure my commitment to the firm and raise me to the next level of responsibility and promotion.  I see myself wanting to stay technical but learn the necessary skills to lead people and projects."
  • Long term - "After proving my abilities, I see myself in a firm with the possibility of moving into a level of management that allows me to keep my skills sharp."

What are you doing to achieve your goals?

  • "I look at continued learning as the key to success.  I continue my education, as you see from my resume, by taking company educational courses, when offered, and college courses.  I also read trade publications and magazines to keep me informed about the current and future directions in my field.  When possible, I participate in professional organizations in my field."

Job Satisfaction Questions

Why did you leave your previous employer?

  • NEVER speak poorly about a former employer.  Be pleasant, be positive and be honest.  Your answer will probably be checked.  Mention your desire to work for a more progressive company that offers more growth opportunities and recognition.

What did you like most about your previous job?
What did you like least about your previous job?

  • An employer can evaluate the type of worker you will be by the items you choose.  Cite specifics.  You are also providing clues about the environment you seek. What you liked most can include a strong teamwork atmosphere, high-level of creativity, attainable deadlines.  What you liked least should include any situations that you are unlikely to encounter in your new position.

Why are you looking for another job?

  • Again, be positive.  "I have to say that I have really enjoyed my years at the Corporation.  There are a lot of good people over there.  But I am looking for a more progressive organization with greater opportunities for growth, and recognition.  I am looking for a team to join where I can make real contributions and advance my career."

What do you think your employers obligations are to you?

  • Interviewers listen for employees who want a positive, enthusiastic, company atmosphere, with the opportunity to advance.  Such a person, they surmise, has motivation and staying power.

Are you applying for any other jobs?

  • In your answer, show that your search is geared for similar positions.  This demonstrates a well-defined, focused objective.  Make it known that your talents are applicable to other businesses and that you have explored ways to maximize your potential and are serious about finding the perfect opportunity.  Don't give an indication that you are just shopping.

Past Performance Questions
(To determine behavior based on past examples)

What kind of decisions are most difficult for you?

  • Again, be truthful and admit not everything comes easily.  Be careful what you do admit so as not to instantly disqualify yourself.  Explain that you try to gather as much information and advice as you can to make the best decision possible.

What causes you to lose your temper?

  • Everybody has a low boiling point on some particular issue.  Pick one of yours; something safe and reasonable.  People who are late to meetings, blame shifting, broken appointments and office "back-stabbing" are suitable responses.  Don't say that you never fly off the handle.  You won't be believed.

What are your greatest accomplishments?

  • Be ready to recant one or two stories that demonstrate strong capabilities or achievements that will make you attractive to your new employer.  A special project that you pioneered at your previous job, cutting department expenses, increasing productivity or receiving frequent promotions are a few examples.

Salary Questions

Salary discussions should be avoided, if possible.

What type of salary do you have in mind?

  • A suitable reply: "I am looking for the right opportunity and I am confident that if you find me the best candidate for this position, you will extend me your best and most fair offer.

What is your current salary?

  • Answer truthfully.  Remember that "salary" includes base, bonuses, commissions, benefits, and vacations as well as sick days and personal days.  Also, if you are due a raise in the next three months, state the approximate percentage you expect.

Other questions you should be prepared to answer truthfully.

s          Are you willing to relocate?

s          May we check your references?

s          May we verify your income?

Answer a question to the best of your ability and then relax.  If there is a period of silence before the interviewer asks the next question, stay calm.  Interviewers often use silence to see if you can handle stress and maintain poise.


Your interview should be a two-way conversation.  You must ask questions and take an active role in the interview.  This demonstrates the importance you place on your work and career.  Asking questions gives you a chance to demonstrate your depth of knowledge in the field as well as to establish an easy flow of conversation and relaxed atmosphere between you and the interviewer.  Building this kind of rapport is always a plus in a interview.

Remember, you are not just there for the interviewer to determine if you are right for the position, but your questions can help you determine if this job is right for you.  Some of your questions should evolve from research you've done on the company in preparing for the interview.  Following are some guidelines for your questions as well as some examples:

  • Don't cross-examine the employer. 
  • Ask questions requiring an explanation. Questions that can be answered with a "yes" or "no" are conversation stoppers.
  • Don't interrupt when the employer is answering YOUR question.
  • Ask job-relevant questions.  Focus on the job, the company, products, services, and people.
  • Prior to the interview, write your list of Interest Questions and take them with you.
  • Ask about your potential peers, subordinates, and superiors.  Take notes.
  • Ask the employer how he/she got where they are today.

Additional Questions

What would my responsibilities and duties be?
What are the most difficult aspects of the position?
Describe a typical day on the job?
Describe the department's/company's growth in the next 2 years?
What is the philosophy on training and development here?
Has there been downsizing within the company? How is it handled?
How do you think I'd fit into the job and into your organization?
What projects would I be involved in now? In the future?
Who would I be working for and with?
What is the person doing who used to hold this position?
When would you need me to start?
May I see my work area?
May I meet some of my future co-workers?


If you are sincerely interested in the position and are satisfied with the answers given, you should ask the interviewer if he/she feels that you are qualified for the position.  This gives you another chance to review points that may need clarification.  Illustrate confidence in your abilities and convince the interviewer that you are capable of handling the position successfully.  Ask for the job.  Make a positive statement about the position.  Emphasize that this is exactly the type of opportunity you've been looking for and would like to be offered the position.  Ask when you should expect an answer. A typical conclusion might be: "Thank you for this meeting, I like what I've heard today and I'd like to join your team.  I know I'd be an asset to you/your department because you need someone who can ________, ________, and ________.  As you know, I have (match your qualifications with the employer's "hot buttons"). Before I leave, do you have any more questions about my background or qualifications or can I supply you with any more information?  On a scale of 1 to 5, how do I compare to the other candidates you've interviewed?  I can start as soon as you need me."  The farewell should also include a smile, direct eye contact, a firm but gentle handshake.

Immediately following the interview, call your employment recruiter.  Let the recruiter know whether you are interested in the position or not and if there were questions you forgot to ask at the interview, express them at this time.  Only after we get your feedback about the interview and the company do we contact the employer for theirs.  We will follow-up with you again regarding the employer's thoughts.


It is always a good idea to send a short note of appreciation to thank the employer or interviewer for their time.  Reiterate your interest in the position and the company as well as your ability to do the job.  Be sure to mail your correspondence the following day.  This is a good way to keep your name current in the interviewer's mind.  Following is a sample thank-you letter that you can adapt to fit your specifics:


The full company name and address (no abbreviations) as well as the full name of the interviewer and his/her complete title.


"Re: Interview for the Position of (title) on (date).  This illustrates the content of the letter.


"Dear Mr./Ms. (last name):"

"Miss" or "Mrs." should not be used unless you are sure that person does so.  Do not use a first name in the greeting unless you have established a strong rapport.


"It was a pleasure meeting with you (day) to discuss the opening in (department) with (company).

"I appreciated meeting with (name) and yourself in your office on (day) to discuss the (title) position with (company)."

"Thanks for taking the time to see me regarding the opening in (department)."


1. Poor attitude.  Many candidates come across as arrogant.  While employers can afford to be self-centered, candidates cannot.


2. Appearance.  Many candidates do not consider their appearance as much as they should.  First impressions are quickly made in the first three to five minutes.


3. Lack of research.  It's obvious when candidates haven't learned about the job, company or industry prior to the interview.  Visit the library or use the Internet to research the company, talk with friends, peers and other professionals about the opportunity before each meeting.


4. Not having questions to ask.  Asking questions shows your interest in the company and the position.  Prepare a list of intelligent questions in advance.


5. Not readily knowing the answers to interviewers' questions.  Anticipate and rehearse answers to tough questions about your background, such as a recent termination or an employment gap.  Practicing with your spouse or a friend before the interview will help you to frame intelligent responses.


6. Relying too much on resumes.  Employers hire people, not paper.  Although a resume can list qualifications and skills, it's the interview dialogue that will portray you as a committed, responsive team player.


7. Too much humility.  Being conditioned not to brag, candidates are sometimes reluctant to describe their accomplishments.  Explaining how you reach difficult or impressive goals helps employers understand what you can do for them.


8. Not relating skills to employers' needs.  A list of sterling accomplishments means little if you can't relate them to a company's requirements.  Reiterate your skills and convince the employer that you can 'do the same for them'.


9. Handling salary issues ineptly.  Candidates often ask about salary and benefit packages too early.  If they believe an employer is interested, they may demand inappropriate amounts and price themselves out of the jobs.  Candidates who ask for too little undervalue themselves or appear desperate.


10. Lack of career direction.  Job hunters who aren't clear about their career goals often can't spot or commit to appropriate opportunities.  Not knowing what you want wastes everyone's time.


11. Job shopping. Some applicants, particularly those in certain high-tech, sales and marketing fields, will admit they're just "shopping" for opportunities and have little intention of changing jobs.  This wastes time and leaves a bad impression with employers they may need to contact in the future.