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Nailing the Interview

Obtaining a job interview is not always easy and often requires a good deal of work. Preparing for an interview can require a good deal of work, as well, as this is your opportunity to portray to a potential employer that you have the skills and experience necessary to succeed in the available position. In general terms, your objective is to have an interviewer answer “yes” to the following questions after your interview.

  1. Do you have the skills and abilities needed to perform well in the available position?
  2. Do you have the attitude and work ethic needed to make valuable contributions to the company in the available position?
  3. Will you be a team player and fit into the organization?

Preparing for the interview

As you might imagine, most of the work you need to perform to impress a potential employer during an interview happens before the interview. Here are some suggestions to help you prepare for an interview.

  • Research the company, so you can provide well-informed answers to interview questions. Be prepared to ask questions about the company to demonstrate that you’re well-versed in the company’s business
  • Know the job description. Be prepared to describe how your skills and experience will enable you to successfully perform the primary tasks and fulfill the key responsibilities of the position.
  • Be prepared to answer commonly asked interview questions (see below). Rehearse your answers to these questions (without trying to memorize the answers) by conducting a mock interview with a relative or friend.
  • Learn all you can about the interviewer. If you know who the interviewer will be, check to see if he or she has a LinkedIn profile.
  • Bring a pen, paper, work tools, and work clothing. During an interview, you might need to take notes and/or perform a work task. Be prepared.
  • Familiarize yourself with the location of the interview. If feasible, make a practice run to the interview location at the same time of day of the interview; determine traffic flow and where you’ll park or which bus or transit stops you’ll utilize.
  • Confirm the time and place of the interview. A day or two before the scheduled interview, send an email or make a call to the interviewer to confirm that the interview is still scheduled.
  • Get your interview clothes ready. Review Be Your Best to help determine best interview attire.
  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before the interview. Being well-rested the day of the interview is very important. Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep if possible.
  • Prepare copies of your resume, cover letter, and references. Bring along several copies of each document to the interview. Consider printing these documents on resume paper, which is available at most office supply stores.
  • Present your best self the minute you reach the interview location. The interview begins when you pull into the organization's parking lot or enter its building. Individuals you encounter on the elevator, in the hallway, and especially in the reception area might be asked later about their impressions of you or be involved in the selection process.
  • Arrive 10-15 minutes before the scheduled interview time. Plan to arrive at location of the interview 10 to 15 minutes before the actual time of your interview. Never be late, or the job could be lost before your interview begins.

What to do after the interview

What you do after an interview can significantly impact your chances of obtaining a job. Here are some tips that can increase your chances of obtaining employment after an interview.

  • Make notes of what you learned during the interview. Recording what you learned during an interview can be very helpful, especially when sending thank you notes to potential employers. Take time to write-down what was discussed.
  • Contact your references. You should let your references know that they may be contacted by the employer. Your references will appreciate this notice.
  • Send a thank you letter (emails are acceptable). Within a day after your interview, you should send a thank you letter or email to each of the individuals who interviewed you. Thank you letters give the employer a chance to ask for additional information from you and keep you on the employer’s mind as a viable candidate for the available position. Thank you notes should be brief, to the point, and error-free. Think of this correspondence as an opportunity to mention something you forgot or wish you had said in the interview. You might also restate your interest in the position and your confidence in your ability to do the job. Here is a sample thank you letter for your reference, and also check out Thank You Letters.
February 2, 20XX
Mr. Thomas Williams, President
Main Street Bank
1111 Washington Street
South Amboy, New Jersey 08879

Dear Mr. Williams,

Thank you for the opportunity to interview with you yesterday. The information you shared with me about Main Street Bank is helpful in understanding the impact of loan officers in your overall mission. I am excited about the possibility of applying my education and experience to this position with your bank. The expansion and public lending plans are especially interesting, and I look forward to helping the Main Street Bank enter this new market.

If I can provide you with any additional information, please let me know. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Charles Henderson
2222 East Harbor Ave.
Madison Park, New Jersey 08859
  • Follow up with the lead interviewer. Within a week or so following the interview, it is appropriate to follow-up with interviewers to inquire about the position and to restate your interest in the position.