Many times, a great interview is all that stands between you and the job of your dreams. Keeping your interview skills sharp is essential to your success. Alabama State University’s Career Services Office can help you gain the skills, preparation and confidence you need.
For sample interview tips, check out our career vault. From there, you will be able to view and print interview skill resource information. Always make a good impression. Before interviewing, please be sure to read the no-show and late cancellation policy.
For your convenience, we’ve compiled the following list of tips to help you hone your interview skills:
Do Your Homework
- Research the company and the position. The more you know about the company and the job you are applying for, the better you will appear in the interview. An interviewer will be impressed by your interest and motivation, and you will be able to explain what you can do for the company.
- Find out as much key information as you can about the company, its products and its customers. If possible, talk to people who work at the company. There may be other sources of information on the Web, especially if the company is publicly traded.
Practice Makes Perfect
- Practice your answers to common questions. Likewise, prepare a list of questions to ask the employer. Most interviews follow this pattern: First, you answer questions about your experience and qualifications. Then you ask questions about the job.
- Rehearse your interview with a friend. You should be able to convey all pertinent information about yourself in 15 minutes. Tape yourself to check your diction, speed, and body language.
- Prepare your interview materials before you leave. Bring several copies of your resume, a list of references, and, if appropriate, any work samples. Make sure they are all up-to-date.
Dress for Success
Dress professionally and comfortably. You will be judged in some respects by what you wear. When in doubt, dress conservatively.
- A straight forward business suit is best.
- Wear sensible pumps.
- Be moderate with make-up and perfume.
- Wear simple jewelry.
- Hair and fingernails should be well-groomed.
- A clean, ironed shirt and conservative tie are a must.
- A simple jacket or business suit is a good idea as well.
- Shoes should be polished.
- Face should be clean-shaven; facial hair should be neatly trimmed.
- Hair and fingernails should be well-groomed.
- Use cologne or aftershave sparingly.
- Bring pen and notepad to jot down any information you may need to remember (but don't take notes during the interview).
There are different types of job interviews you may participate in during the hiring process. Here are the major categories and tips on how to handle them:
- Stress Interview: Stress interviews are a deliberate attempt to see how you handle yourself. The interviewer may be sarcastic or argumentative, or may keep you waiting. Expect this to happen and, when it does, don't take it personally. Calmly answer each question as it comes. Ask for clarification if you need it and never rush into an answer. The interviewer may also lapse into silence at some point during the questioning. Recognize this as an attempt to unnerve you. Sit silently until the interviewer resumes the questions. If a minute goes by, ask if he or she needs clarification of your last comments.
- Screening Interview: A screening interview is meant to weed out unqualified candidates. Providing facts about your skills is more important than establishing rapport. Interviewers will work from an outline of points they want to cover, looking for inconsistencies in your resume and challenging your qualifications. Provide answers to their questions, and never volunteer any additional information. That information could work against you. One type of screening interview is the telephone interview.
- Lunch Interview: The same rules apply in lunch interviews as in those held at the office. The setting may be more casual, but remember it is a business lunch and you are being watched carefully. Use the lunch interview to develop common ground with your interviewer. Follow his or her lead in both selection of food and in etiquette.
- Committee Interview: Committee interviews are a common practice. You will face several members of the company who have a say in whether you are hired. When answering questions from several people, speak directly to the person asking the question; it is not necessary to answer to the group. In some committee interviews, you may be asked to demonstrate your problem-solving skills. The committee will outline a situation and ask you to formulate a plan that deals with the problem. You don't have to come up with the ultimate solution. The interviewers are looking for how you apply your knowledge and skills to a real-life situation.
- Group Interview: A group interview is usually designed to uncover the leadership potential of prospective managers and employees who will be dealing with the public. The front-runner candidates are gathered together in an informal, discussion-type interview. A subject is introduced and the interviewer will start off the discussion. The goal of the group interview is to see how you interact with others and how you use your knowledge and reasoning powers to win others over. If you do well in the group interview, you can expect to be asked back for a more extensive interview.