The interview is your best opportunity to stand out from the other candidates who are competing for the same position. Make sure you are fully prepared so that you can demonstrate your best assets to your potential future employer.

First impressions are everything during an interview, so be sure to use those first five seconds to look and sound your finest.  Keep in mind that what you say and how you present yourself will go a long way towards determining whether or not you will get the job.

Your interview starts the moment you arrive at the company, so make sure you act and dress professionally. Get a hair cut, shave, clean your fingernails, iron your clothes, and shine those shoes.  Wear a suit or your most professional attire (remember, when you look good, you feel good!).  Avoid loud colors, faddish styles and anything that would distract from what you are there to sell – YOU!

Be Prepared:
  • Make sure you have your resume and references available to go over in depth with your interviewer.
  • Learn as much as possible about the organization before you arrive at the interview.  At the very least check the company’s website to familiarize yourself with their industry, products and goals.
  • Allow at least two hours for your interview to ensure that you will not be rushed.
  • Be prepared for the standard questions listed below:  Try to limit answers to one or two minutes.
Prepare Your Answers To These Questions:
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why are leaving your current company?
  • What are your long-term and short-term career goals?
  • What do you look for in a job?
  • What do you know about the company?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What is your biggest strength?
  • What is your biggest weakness?
  • How would your last boss and colleagues describe you?
  • What has been your most important accomplishment?
  • What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
  • Be prepared to name a salary range.
Questions To Ask:

Remember that the last thing an employer wants to hear is “No,” when they ask if you have any questions for them. Use one or more of these questions if you are at all stuck on what to ask.

  • How long have you been in your position?
  • What do you like best about your position and the company?
  • What are your expectations for this position? (the position you are being interviewed for)
  • Do you have any concerns about my job qualifications?  (This gives you the opportunity to overcome those concerns with reasons why you are qualified).
Be Professional:
  • Arrive ten to fifteen minutes early for your appointment.  Do not go in any earlier.
  • Make sure cell phones and pagers are turned off.
  • Do not chew gum.
  • Have your right hand free to shake hands with your interviewer.
  • Do not use any names to address your interviewer except the one they used in their introduction.
  • Be polite, attentive, and relaxed.
  • Indicate a genuine interest in the interviewer with eye contact and always remember to smile.
  • Watch your body language and posture.  Slouching, leaning on the interviewer’s desk, and moving around are not only distracting, but they will send the wrong message to the employer.
  • Avoid nervous habits: fiddling your thumbs, tapping your hands or feet, picking at an imaginary piece of lint, or twirling your hair are all big turn offs.
  • Do not be afraid to express your genuine interest in, and excitement about, the position, the company, and its goals.  Enthusiasm is the most frequently cited reason by employers for hiring.
  • Exude self-confidence by speaking positively about your abilities, experience, and willingness to acquire new skills.
  • Try to avoid all negativity. When asked about your weaknesses, put positive spins on them (i.e. if you are lacking a particular skill, talk about what you are doing to counteract that and better your performance at work).
Communication Is Key:
  • Answer questions in an articulate and organized manner.
  • Prospective employers don’t want to hear simple “yes” and “no” answers.  Explain yourself whenever possible.
  • There’s nothing wrong with asking for a moment to think about a question or asking for the interviewer to clarify the question.
  • Listen carefully, and be as complete as possible in your answers.
  • Always speak positively about former employers and experiences.
  • Relate your work experience directly to the needs of the organization.  Examples of past accomplishments effectively demonstrate your abilities.
  • If you are asked questions about your personal life, use them as opportunities to emphasize how well you balance your personal and professional life.
  • Save questions about salary, benefits, vacation, sick leave, etc., for your Townsend and Associates recruiter.
It’s a Two Way Street:
  • Both you and the interviewer can gain something from the interview.  You may possibly go through more than one interview with a company before you are offered a position, so your primary goal during any interview is to get a job offer or, at the very least, an additional interview.
  • For the employer, the interview is an opportunity to gather more information about you.  A resume, testing, and an application only tell so much about an individual.  The employer wants to know how you will fit in the organization’s environment, what your work style is like, what motivates you, and ensure that your experience and training are relevant to the open position.
At The End of the Interview:
  • Briefly express your strong interest in the company and the position, thank the interviewer for his or her time and leave on a positive note.
  • You should also call your staffing specialist at Townsend and Associates immediately after you leave.  He or she will be getting feedback from both you and the company and will want to discuss it further.
  • Always be sure to send a thank you note the following, if not that very day, day.  Keep it brief and to the point, expressing your interest in the company and reiterating your strengths.