Need help preparing for a job interview?

Here are some basics:

We know: How to Prepare for a Job Interview

You've finally landed an interview. What steps should you take to prepare?

1. Research the Company

Use the internet or and the public library to look up the company. Be sure to ask the librarian to recommend reference books. Find out:

  • what the company does, history, products etc.
  • company size and various locations
  • any recent news about the company, or changes within the company
  • who runs the company, company philosophy, goals, values and company position and niche in the market

2. Research the Position for Which You're Applying

Use the job description, any inside contacts you may have, and your company research to help you determine

  • what your job will be and how it fits into the organization
  • how the job has been done in the past
  • any changes the company may be making to the position

3. Rehearse Giving Answers to Questions About Yourself

Think of professional characteristics that are required by the job, such as meeting deadlines, clear communication, working with others, etc. Think of examples to illustrate how you have those characteristics and skills and how you have used them in the past. Make a list of your past accomplishments in various areas (school, work, volunteering), so that you can recall them easily to illustrate a point.

4. Practice and Be Responsive

Practice giving answers to questions about yourself aloud, so you become comfortable with how to formulate the answers to questions. See if you can get someone to rehearse with you.

Try to be specific when you answer questions about yourself. If you like working with cars, or people, or animals and that's a part of the job, say why---what interests you about them. Give examples. Try to focus on your strengths. Be positive. Tell the truth, but don't turn the interview into a confessional about your past.

5. Some Questions to Get You Started

Here are some common interview questions provided by the Labor Department to help you:

  1. How would you describe yourself?
  2. What did you like most about your last job?
  3. What types of courses do you enjoy most?
  4. Why should I select you over other applicants?
  5. What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  6. What are your hobbies?
  7. Tell me more about the project you described on your resume.
  8. Describe a work or school-related problem and how you solved it.
  9. Tell me about a time you worked as part of a team.
  10. What are your short-term goals?
  11. Why do you want to work in this occupation and for this company?

6. Dress for Success

On balance, under-dressing in probably worse than overdressing. Dress up in a way you would for a very important meeting at work. Keep you hair neat. Avoid strong perfume and too much make up or jewelry because they can be distracting.

7. Be Prepared to Ask a Few Questions Yourself

In many interviews, you are encouraged to ask questions at some point. Or, you may want to try, even if no one offers you the opportunity. Often, questions show your interest in the company and the job.

Here are a few questions you might ask, suggested by the Department of Labor:

  1. Who would supervise me?
  2. Can you describe a typical assignment?
  3. Are there opportunities for advancement?
  4. How do you train employees?
  5. What do you like most about working for this company?

8. What NOT to ask in an initial interview.

You should probably avoid asking about salary and benefits in the initial interview. Usually, those issues can be addressed after the first round. For the most part, these questions are better asked once the company appears interested in hiring you.

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