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Interview Preperation

Career Resource Center

Interview Preparation

Marketing yourself
Speaking about your experience and achievements are part of the expected dialogue during a meeting with a prospective employer, but in today’s competitive job market you need to use every interaction as an opportunity to set yourself apart as the total package the employer needs. The way you speak, dress, and act all affect the interviewer’s perception of you. The better you are able to communicate your personality with professionalism and skill, the better the chances are of your getting an offer. Job interviews are business events where your talents are evaluated.

  • When selling yourself in an interview, think of your branding statement and reiterate it to the interviewer when answering their questions. Through branding, companies demonstrate how their product excels over the competition. Your products are your skills, experiences and education. To get the job, you must present yourself in the best light and tailor your strengths to the needs of the prospective employer.
  • To effectively market yourself you must know your target audience. Job seekers who demonstrate specific knowledge of the targeted company and position in their resumes, cover letters, and interviews leave a much more memorable impression.
  • The next step in marketing is to create an effective advertising campaign for yourself. Consider how your skills, experience and education deliver better results to your target audience than your competition, and clearly express these topics in your cover letter and resume. With mass volumes of resumes sent daily, you have only a brief moment to capture your target audience’s attention. As a result, you must deliver a clear concise message that leaves a memorable impression. Identify the needs of the company, and show how your experience will bring value and improvement to them.

Learn as much as possible about the culture of the company (such as casual vs. formal, technical vs. administrative) then tailor your interview style/presentation accordingly. Having the ability to contact anyone you know “inside” can be an effective way to uncover the true essence of the company. Use the internet to thoroughly research the company’s specialty/niche. For example if you are interviewing at an insurance company, go online to learn about that company’s specialty: For instance, does the company specialize in life insurance only, or have they extended their line of business to include long term care insurance, and disability coverage. Find current articles online about trends and advancements in the company’s specialty. Locate background information of the people you are interviewing with. It can be helpful to learn your interviewer’s previous positions in the company, any articles they published in their specialty, presentations they have given, relevant contributions they made to the company and their specialty. Having uncovered background information about each interviewer will help you craft questions relevant to their area of expertise. Preparing meaningful questions will show you have taken the time to research and fully learn about the company.

Know Thyself

  • Know your highlighted talents inside out
    Know your skills and qualifications and be able to discuss how specific attributes are closely aligned with the position for which you are interviewing. Know all your accomplishments inside and out, including those not listed on your resume, and be prepared to describe them with impact as the opportunity arises during the interview.
  • Summarize your resume
    Re-read your resume prior to the interview, realizing that it acts as the basis for many interview questions. Make sure that the major content of your resume and cover letter is committed to memory, so you can effectively elaborate on each topic listed.
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses
    For each strength or weakness, provide examples of times when a strength helped you do your job, and a weakness hindered you from doing your job. If prepared, you will be able to answer immediately, in an open and honest way. Prepare for questions you expect to be asked during the interview and prepare a list of questions you would like to ask the interviewer. For a more detailed explanation of the types of interview questions to ask and how to effectively answer refer to the Answering Questions and Asking Questions sections of this resource guide.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice
    The benefits of being as prepared as possible can not be overstated. A practice interview is helpful to all, especially if you haven’t interviewed in a long time. The best way to develop strong interviewing skills is through practice. Role play a mock interview with a family member or colleague, with them being the interviewer and you acting as the interviewee. Role play various questions and scenarios that an interviewer might present to you. Consider viewing videos of mock interviews, which can be found in the career resource section of most local libraries.

Important information to uncover before the interview:

  • Job description
  • Directions
  • Parking information
  • Number of interviewers, their names and titles
  • Bios
  • Length of time you’ll be there
  • How much time you will have with the interviewer
  • Who/where to report upon arrival
  • Any necessary documentation needed to bring
  • Day & time

Prepare your interview attire
The majority of companies across all industries have similar expectations when it comes to interview attire. Candidates should never underestimate the importance of appearance at their interview. The standard protocol is professional dress. High-quality, conservative attire works well.

When the employer interviews you, they are seeing you as a potential co-worker and colleague and evaluating the impression you could make internally and externally. A good measure is to make sure you are more dressed up than your interviewer, but don’t go over the top. Make sure clothing is clean, pressed, and fits correctly. When your outfit looks finished and put together, it will communicate how much you have prepared and convey the message that you pay attention to small, yet important, details.

Men’s interview attire
Suit (solid color navy, black or gray)
Long sleeve shirt
Tie, belt, polished shoes with coordinated socks
Neat, professional hairstyle with little or no jewelry, wear a watch
Neat trimmed nails, minimal aftershave or cologne

Women’s interview attire
Suit (navy, black, dark gray, other conservative colors appropriate for the season)
If choosing a skirt, the skirt should be proper and long enough so you can sit down comfortably
Coordinated, modest blouse
Conservative, polished shoes with neutral pantyhose
Professional hairstyle with limited jewelry- no dangling earrings or large, flashy items, wear a watch
Light makeup (no heavy mascara or eye shadow. Neutral lipstick is fine.)
Neatly manicured nails and little or no perfume

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