YOU NEVER GET A SECOND CHANCE TO MAKE A FIRST IMPRESSION!
Cliché, but true. The first interview is your only opportunity for
a second interview, so take it seriously. Here are some tips to
help you ace your first meeting and increase your chances for a next one.
- Dress for success. Dress conservatively - a navy, black or
gray suit is your best choice, regardless of the corporate dress
environment once you get the job. Wear minimal jewelry. Make-up should
be understated and fingernails should be clean, neat and not
- Don't overpower the senses. Interviews generally take place
within closed quarters so wear light perfume or cologne. Watch what
you eat before the interview and keep a breath mint on hand. Never
chew gum during an interview.
- Get a good night's sleep and plan your interview for
the time of day when you are at your best. Avoid planning an interview
before work or during lunch if you cannot be flexible with your time.
Allow more time for the interview than you think you need to avoid
- Be conscious of your nonverbal behavior. Look
the interviewer in the eye. Remain professional in posture and demeanor.
Sit up straight and control nervous habits, like fidgeting or nail-biting.
- Speak clearly and enthusiastically about your skills,
knowledge, and abilities. Remain professional. Answer the question that
is put before you, but don't reveal more information than necessary.
- Be pleasant, but not overly friendly. You are interviewing
for a job, not a new best friend, so remain professional.
- Listen carefully. Don't interrupt the speaker, ask
for permission to take notes, and don't let long pauses make you feel
- Remain positive. Never present a negative experience
with a past employer. Be prepared for questions that can make you look
bad like "Tell me about a weakness." Review typical interview questions
until you are confident with your responses.
- Do your homework. Learn about the company on the Internet.
Ask your CareerTrust recruiter pertinent questions about the interviewer
and the environment. Brush up on the industry by reviewing industry
association Web sites or industry publications.
- Arrive early for your interview and make sure you
understand the directions to the location. If you're not familiar
with the area, it doesn't hurt to find the location a few days before
- Brush up on your knowledge of etiquette,
particularly if lunch or dinner is part of the interview.
- Write a thank you note immediately after the interview.
Be sure to get business cards for proper spelling and addresses.
Here are some questions you can expect during an interview.
Think about your answers, and practice saying them until you can
answer them with confidence.
- Tell me about yourself. Avoid personal statements;
this question refers to your work-related self. Keep it simple;
two simple statements are best. This is not the time to review
your resume and work history. That comes later.
- How does your education equip you for the job?
No matter what schooling you have had, you have been prepared
in some way for this position. Be creative, but not far-fetched
with your response.
- Why do you want to work for us?
If you did your homework and are familiar with the company, you
should have at least two reasons. Benefits, opportunities, and
work environment are always good answers.
- What are your long and short-term goals?
Keep these goals in line with the company's mission. If you
want to be a medical technician and are applying for an
administrative assistant in the marketing department, make
certain you keep the goal related to the job. Employers seldom hire
people whose goals do not indicate they will be part of the
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Only one place. Working as a critical member of the ABC Company.
Keep your sights in line with the job. Don't get over anxious.
An interviewer doesn't want to hear that anyone wants his/her job.
- What are your greatest strengths?
Have two or three SHORT examples ready. Have specific examples
ready, but don't go into this detail unless you are asked to.
- What are your weaknesses?
Most interviewers will ask this question and no one wants to know
you have any! Be ready for this question with a response like:
"Can I tell you how I turned a challenge into an opportunity?" or
"My weaknesses have been learning experiences."
- What things are most important to you in a job?
This is as much about the company as it is about you. Tailor
your answer to the types of things that are directly related
to the position for which you are applying, as well as to the
- Do you prefer working alone or as part of a team?
Respond with the voice of experience----from your last position.
And as the voice of knowledge----what the current position demands.
There are very few places today where you can take a position that
demands no interaction.
- What would you describe as your greatest achievement to date?
Be brief. One or two sentences can complete the picture. Try to keep
it work related. Be ready to give an example, only if this
- What are your personal interests?
Only mention things that can enhance your career like an organization
to which you belong. If going outside the work realm, use interests
that display a quest for knowledge.
- Why did you leave your last position?
This answer must be carefully thought out. Be honest and stay
positive. Even if the situation at your last job was unbearable,
make certain you do not make your last employer look bad. Think about
what motivates you, because a lack of these motivators will typically
tell you why you are really leaving your current position.
- What do you know about our company?
Do your homework. Research the company, its mission, products,
size, and environment. Get to the Internet. Know about the types
of people they need and how you can offer a positive contribution
to the company.
- What can you do for us that no one else can?
You don't need to be a rocket scientist to be able to offer a
positive contribution. Your enthusiasm is always the best
attribute to offer and no one else can match that because it
belongs to only you!
- What do you find most attractive about the job offered?
List three things that excite and motivate you. Be brief.
- Why should we hire you?
Because of your skills, knowledge and ability.
Give an example of each.
- How long do you plan to stay in a position?
"As long as I am a contributing member to ABC Company."
OR " I think ABC has many opportunities and challenges to offer
me." OR "As long as I continue to grow in this position." No
matter what, let a company know you are with them for the long
haul. This question relates to your long-term goals. Tie the
two together here.
- It looks like you are overqualified for this position.
Let the employer know that he/she should view your knowledge
as a great investment in the company. You come to the table with
a skill set that will be immediately productive. Let the employer
know you are interested in the company as well as in the job.
- Why haven't you found a new position before now?
Let the employer know that you are being selective---looking
for the best fit with the most challenge. Be selective with this
answer and review it with your CareerTrust counselor.
- How do you handle criticism? Can you give an example?
Have an example ready and remain positive in the description
of events. Make it in to a learning experience. Everyone needs
to be humble every now and then.
- What did you think of your boss?
Even if you think your boss was a 'zero,' be positive.
Everyone has at least one redeeming quality. "My boss taught
me perseverance." OR "My boss taught me how to prioritize."
- What other types of companies are you considering?
Talk about the industry, not about specific companies.
- If I asked your previous boss about your best qualities, what would he/she say?
Have three good answers (skills or abilities) ready.
- How do you resolve conflict?
Talk about your communication skills, your respect of your
fellow workers, and everyone's right to privacy. Let the interviewer
know you are, above all, an ethical person. Know how the chain
of command works.
- What is the toughest part of your job?
If you have a problem here, think about dividing your day into
four parts and identify one common task from each segment.
Pick the toughest or easiest one, depending upon your comfort
level. Remember that the toughest part of a job can sometimes be
the most rewarding learning experience.
- Where do you see your career going in the next five years?
Have three areas of interest ready to list. If you are applying
for a Project Manager position, tailor your answer to that specific
job description. Relate your answer to both the industry and
It is both valid and expected that you will have questions
for the person who interviews you. Do your homework! Know about
the company---it's mission and long term goals. Have three or four
specific, generic questions ready to show that you are seriously
pursuing this opportunity.
These questions can be used at the end of the interview.
Generally, the interviewer asks "Do you have any questions
for me?" If you do not hear this, ask if the interviewer has
time to answer a few general questions. Know that if you are
being sent on to a second interview within the company, it is
highly likely these questions will be answered as you progress.
- Does this position offer an opportunity for career growth?
- Does your company have a policy on promotions from within?
- What standards are used for employee evaluation? Yearly?
- Why do you like working for this organization/firm/company?
- When will the hiring decision be made?
- What is the next step in the hiring process?
Questions and topics to avoid during a first interview:
YOUR FAMILY RESPONSIBILITIES
Focus on the job and only the job until the potential
employer makes an offer. You want the client to know that
you are interested in the company and what you have to offer
them. Timing is everything. These types of specific questions
DO have a time and place, but it is not on the first interview.
Your resume should reflect both you and the position for
which you are applying. Have two resumes:
A generic copy reflecting your general skills and
A specific copy relating directly to the position for which
you are applying.
If you have properly completed your homework on the company
to which you are applying, you should have a very good idea of
how your skills should be highlighted:
- Select a focus
- Have a written description of the job
- Delete detailed past experiences not relevant to the current position
- Insert key words relative to the industry
- Be clear and concise
- Make sure the resume flows-no gaps in job history
- Have your resume available to e-mail
- Avoid gimmicks. Concentrate on skills, knowledge, and ability.
- Check and recheck for typos, grammar, spelling, date errors, etc.
During the interview you will review your resume.
Formulate brief descriptions or lists for the following items:
- Describe your job
- What does your company do?
- What is the environment like?
- How big is the company? The department?
- Detail your duties (don't exaggerate)
- To whom do you report? Title?
- Inventory your successes (give statistical examples)
- Concentrate on skills, knowledge, and abilities.
- Be brief, concise, and accurate.
- Have your reference list ready. Make certain your contacts have been notified.
- Do not include personal data or references.
- Sell only the skills that pertain to the job.