Monday, March 19, 2007

How to Prepare Yourself for a Job Interview

In order to land the job you have set your eyes on, interview preparation is one of the most significant tasks to pay attention to in the work world. Whether it is reviewing the type of questions you may randomly encounter or setting out the perfect interview attire in the morning, preparation is key for securing a position at a company or business. In this day and age, even the kind of shoes you wear to an interview can set you back in the thick pile of potential employees vying for your same opportunity.

Familiarize Yourself with Potential Interview Settings

While many job seekers prepare for the typically one-on-one job interview, they are unaware or do not recognize the importance for being ready for any type of interview setting. In some cases, interviews take place with more than one interviewer, such as a panel of executives with their own set of questions. Others may find themselves interviewing at the same exact time and setting as their closest competitors. Overall, there are five main types of interview settings you may encounter: screening, selection, group, panel, and stress.

The screening interview is often the first contact you will make with a potential employer. Typically, a member from human resources conducts this type of interview, which may take place over the telephone or in person. A copy of your resume will be handed in and everything on it will be verified. This is the time when your qualifications are assessed to see if you should reach the next level of the interviewing process.

A selection interview is often the process that causes the most stress. You have already been accepted as a qualified applicant, but will your personality and work ethic fit within the scheme of the company? This is the time where potential employees interact with the management, as well as others already on the team. Some will undergo more than one selection interview before a final decision is made.

The group interview involves the questioning of more than one job candidate at the same time. This is an attempt to separate the leaders from the followers. The natural leader will appear in a group, as they are a bit more aggressive in their actions and words. Sometimes, it isn’t a leader that an employer is looking for and is more interested in finding a "team player." The best way to handle this situation is to be yourself and let your natural talents speak for themselves.

With the panel interview, several different people will interview one candidate at the same time. For some, this is quite an intimidating situation as questions are rattled off in succession from a diverse group of questioners. Remaining calm and establishing your own link with each member is key. Making eye contact with all members of the panel during their question is also a positive move.

In a variety of highly competitive companies, a stress interview may arise. The technique involves the weeding out of potential employees who cannot handle the stress and hardship pertaining to a job. Flustering situations and odd questions might also be asked in attempt to see how a candidate will deal with such inquiries. This particular approach is less often encountered.

What to Wear on a Job Interview

The term, "dress for success" wasn't created for nothing. It is important to make a grand first impression with a potential employer. One of the best ways to accomplish this is through the clothes you wear. What you choose to wear to an interview (right down to the color) can leave a lasting afterthought. As a rule of thumb, the more conservative the job field you are entering, the more conservative your suit should be.

Men should stick with conservative suits (navy blue or dark gray) with a traditional shirt and tie. Dress shoes should be polished. Facial hair, visible piercings, and earrings are not recommended. For women, a solid color skirt or pant suit (preferably dark colors) is suggested with the use of limited accessories. It is also important to pay attention to the length of the skirt and neckline. No matter what season or temperature the day brings, pantyhose are a must. Too much jewelry or make-up is also a no-no and wearing perfume or cologne may adversely affect an interviewer's receptiveness.

When it comes to shoes, closed-toe selections should be worn. Under no circumstances should you walk into a job interview wearing a pair of sandals. Black shoes are your best bet because they tend to match with every outfit, including a navy blue suit. For women, the heel of the shoe should be kept low.

What To Bring and Know Before an Interview

Before your interview, you should already have directions to the site and give yourself enough time to get there and find a parking space. You should also plan to arrive 10 to 15 minutes early. Before leaving the house, check to see if you have extra copies of your resume, a list of references, a notepad, daily planner, pen and pencil in your possession.

Carrying a briefcase, folder, or portfolio will enhance your look of professionalism, but it is also a must to focus on additional details. You should know the name and title of the person you are meeting with (some people actually forget) and have already conducted research on the company and position you are applying for. Also, it is suggested to prepare for tough questions that might make you pause, including where you see yourself in 5 or 10 years.

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