Preparing for the Interview
Once you have found one or more potential jobs you should think about what additional work might be needed to get an interview. At this point you have prepared a resume that features your skills and accomplishments, and a list of references that are prepared to say good things about your work. What more is needed?
Find out more about the company
Each company is different. Even if a company does the same thing as another company, it has different management, different goals, different capabilities, different customers, and has a different job environment. Not only would you like to learn about what kind of company you might be joining, but you also should find out more about the company so you can improve your chances of getting an interview and do well on the interview.What kinds of things should you try to find out about a prospective employer?
- Does it have a web-site? (Web sites can provide a wealth of information)
- What has been written about the company? (The Internet has newspaper articles and press releases)
- How long has the company been around?
- Who runs the company?
- What does the company do exactly?
- Who are some major customers (or customer types)?
- Is there any information about the goals of the company?
- Is the company growing, staying the same or shrinking?
- Does the company have competitors? Who are they?
- Are the competitors looking for new employees?
- Do you know anyone who works at the company?
- Do you know anyone who knows people at the company?
- What can you find out about the work environment? Is it high stress? Do people stay around for years, or is the company a 'revolving door' for short-time employees?
Write a cover letter
Rather than change your resume each time you send it out to a prospective employer, you often have an opportunity write a short letter, called a cover letter, which is used to highlight the particular skills and accomplishments that would be interesting to the employer. Typically the cover letter is less than a page long, has a bullet list of qualifications and accomplishments you want to highlight and communicates something specific about why you want to work at the company. Hopefully some of the information you found out about will give you an idea of something you can say to make you stand out. You should use some of the same words that you have seen in the job description and in anything you have found out about the company.
A set of guidelines for writing a cover letter are found here.
At this point you have found out more about your prospective employer and have prepared a good cover letter that says how your skills and experience can help the company. You sent out that cover letter and your resume (and/or filled out an application) and guess what? The company is interested and would like to interview you at 9am next Monday!
Do a Mock Interview
Nervous? Join the club! Applying for a job, especially a job you would really like to have is a nerve-wracking experience. If you feel that you'd like to do especially well at the interview, a good final preparation step is to have a mock interview. Experienced business managers have volunteered to provide mock interviews for Career Center clients.
What does a Mock Interview do for you?
- Provides a interview-like environment to fine-tune your interviewing skills.
- Gives you pointers/feedback/constructive criticism on things such as:
- How you answer difficult questions.
- What your 'body-language" is saying to the interviewer.
- How well you have prepared for the interview.
- Helps you gain greater confidence in interviewing.
We even have the ability to video tape your interview here at the Seeds of Hope Career Resource Center so you can see yourself through another person's eyes!
Interested in looking at some sample interview questions? Click here to view a list of the top ten typical 'tough' questions.