Be Prepared. As you anticipate having a successful career, prepare yourself for the interview. With so many qualified candidates competing for the same position, you must find a way to stand out positively. You only make a first impression once—don’t blow it. Dozens of books and websites deal with interviewing. Check your local bookstore or library.
Research the company to which you are applying. Learn about its products and services, locations, types of positions, number of employees, profits/losses, and future plans for growth. Check the library, search the Internet, read annual reports, talk to employees, and telephone the company receptionist to ask for appropriate information.
Check the pronunciation and spelling of the interviewer’s name. Greet the interviewer with a smile, a firm handshake, and direct eye contact. Speak confidently and clearly.
Go alone to the interview. If you do not know the exact location of the company, take a ride past it a day or two before the interview. Being late because you got lost is not an acceptable excuse.
Dress for Success. The first thing the interviewer will notice about you is your appearance. Professionally dressed individuals have the highest success rates in landing jobs. You want to leave the interviewer with the impression that you are serious about the position. Therefore, dress in a suit or coordinated outfit. Pay attention to details such as polishing your shoes, going easy on fragrances, trimming your nails, styling your hair, and so forth.
Practice. Think about the type of questions that may be asked during the interview and practice your answers. Respond sincerely, honestly, and with enthusiasm. Let employers know what you can do for them by communicating achievements in a clear, concise manner, using proper grammar. Give specific examples as proof of your qualifications.
Maintain a positive attitude, speak clearly and confidently, and look directly at the interviewer. Maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. Stick to relevant, job-related information, and do not discuss personal business. Be courteous and respectful; do not criticize former employers.
Keep your mind on what the interviewer is saying and avoid interrupting him or her. When appropriate, ask questions about the position or the company.
Express your interest in the company and relate how your qualifications will be beneficial. Include work experience and education that pertain to the position. Do not ask about salary unless the interviewer brings it up or you are offered the position.
Alleviate Nervousness. You can alleviate nervousness by bring prepared. Practice interviewing with a friend and go over answers to sample interview questions.
Arrive five or ten minutes early. If your hands are sweaty, dry them on a tissue or stop in the restroom to freshen up beforehand.
Know the interviewer’s name and bring extra copies of your resume and also a portfolio with samples of your work.
Take a few deep breaths, and tell yourself that you are prepared. Look over your resume and portfolio right before the interview so your background information is fresh in your mind. Avoid smoking, caffeine, and chewing gum.
Close the Interview Positively. At the close of the interview, thank the interviewer for taking the time to speak with you. If you were not told when you would be contacted about the position, ask when you may call to see if a decision has been reached. If you are interested in the position, make sure you get that point across to the interviewer by asking for the job. The interviewer cannot read your mind.
Ask for a business card so you have the correct spelling of the interviewer’s name for future contact. Send a thank-you note, email, or letter as soon as possible.
- Discard useless and outdated items. Purge your belongings at least once a year. If you have not used something or worn it in a year, it is time to let go.
- Create a place for everything you own, and locate often used items in a convenient place.
- Banish clutter. Use bins, baskets, stacking trays, etc., to keep things organized.
- Put things back in the proper place after use. Do not create piles.
- Consider your work habits in order to make your space work for you.
- Record appointments and deadlines on a calendar. Consult the calendar on a daily basis.
- Hang a bulletin board by your computer or in an accessible place.
- Have a specific place for outgoing and incoming mail. Open incoming mail near a trash can and discard junk mail immediately.
- File paperwork on a consistent basis, and purge files every six months.
- Combine like tasks (for example, running errands).
- Get others involved in returning items to their proper places.
Time Management Tips
- List goals and set priorities—A's for most important,
B's for next important, C's for least important.
- Write down your
ideas, and don't trust your memory even if it is good.
- Make a daily "To Do" list the first thing
every morning; keep it with you at all times.
- Don't try to do more than one item on your list at a
time; work on one thing until finished.
- Get enough sleep at night; don't catnap during the day.
- Ask this question often: What is the best use
of my time right now?
- Use your high productivity hours for your most stressful
projects; use your low productivity hours for easy-to-do projects
and casual reading.
- Do it now! Procrastination creates trouble and
- Do one least enjoyed task each day.
- Get into the habit of comprehending what you read the first
time you read it.
- Carry reading material with you at all times; use waiting
time to read.
- Use the telephone more to save time.
- Keep two kinds of people out of your life: Those who
make unreasonable demands on your time and those who constantly
try to take advantage of you.
- Be candid when someone asks, "Have a minute?" Learn
to say NO.
- Distinguish between the urgent and the important.
- Don't waste time regretting your failures.
- Keep a list of things that can be done in five minutes or
you have five minutes, go to the list and pick one.
- Ask yourself if this activity needs to be done at all or
who should be doing it; eliminate all unnecessary activities.
- Tackle time-consuming projects in stages—break them
- Have a place for everything, and keep everything in its place.
One of the best ways to convey professionalism is to speak properly. Although an individual may communicate fine in personal situations, speaking and listening for business encompasses far more than speaking and listening for entertainment and fun. Business professionals must maintain positive, friendly, and correct speech. They must develop highly effective communication skills for dealing with customers, coworkers, and supervisors in a number of situations. They must be able to give directions, explain about products and services, give presentations and speeches, and ask questions in face-to-face situations and on the telephone. No communication will take place if the listener does not understand the message. Send the right message.
- Speak loud enough to be heard; but do not shout, which is distracting.
- Use proper grammar, and eliminate slang.
- Check the listener’s facial expressions and gestures in face-to-face situations to ensure you are being understood.
- Use proper inflection by raising or lowering your voice to emphasize key points; avoid speaking in a monotone.
- Choose the proper tone, for how you say something leaves a positive or negative impression on the listener.
- Maintain a proper speaking rate.
- Articulate clearly by pronouncing words correctly. If you mispronounce a word, listeners may not recognize it or may confuse the word you meant to use with one that has a different meaning.
- Use positive words.
Copyright—Carol A. Silvis, M.Ed., 2008