Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Argh! An Interview!

You sent out several dozen applications. You posted your resume online. You asked for an application everywhere you saw signs saying "Help Wanted." You asked your uncles and aunts and grandparents and neighbors and a few random strangers if they knew of places that were hiring, and you marched right over there and applied.

And then...One of those places called you for an interview.

Why is it that something you were really hoping for causes so much panic?

You probably have less than a week until it happens. Now what?

You might be feeling anxious because you don't know what to expect. Since you can't predict what exactly will happen at the interview, being prepared for it can make you feel a little more confident.

First, be sure you know where the interview is. Take a test drive if you want to-you might be surprised at how many people do that, so don't feel dumb. You don't want to hit the road and not know where you're headed. Time how long it takes you and remember, with road construction or traffic, it's going to take longer. After you get to the place on your trial run, stop and write down some landmarks if that would help you (such as, turn left at the second gas station). There's no harm in arriving early for an interview. If you're late, that is not a good thing. You may spend some time finding where to park, also.

Second, think about what to wear. The good news is, you probably don't need to go out and buy anything new. If you have a suit, that's great (provided it fits and isn't 20 years old). A suit works for both men and women. If you don't have a suit, that's not a problem. Look for a crisp, well-made, tailored (not fancy) shirt and pants that look well together. For men, wearing a tie never hurts, even if the position you're interviewing for is not going to require it. For women, any put-together skirt or pants and top is going to work. Make sure the skirt is a conservative length, not too short or too long. Solid colors will look more professional.

Whatever you wear, be sure the clothes fit you well (be honest!). If they are too tight, they will not look professional and you will be even more uncomfortable than you already would have been. If they are outdated, it will definitely be noticed by your potential employer.

Be sure the clothes are clean and not wrinkled. Don't leave it to the last minute when you will not have time to iron something or sew on a button.
Not appropriate...

You may want to keep in mind the weather; you don't want to be too warm during an interview, causing you to perspire and get red in the face, which will make you look as anxious as you probably are, nor do you want to be shivering. It wouldn't hurt to have a tissue in your pocket just in case you need one.

Are you in need of an outfit? Ask a friend to loan you something, or check out a thrift store. Always be on the lookout for something on clearance racks, too. And remember, you can wear the same 'interview outfit' over and over; potential employers aren't going to know you wore the same thing to ten interviews.

Open-toed shoes should be avoided for an interview, no matter how dressy you think they are. A very high heel is not going to look professional, nor are flip-flops.Whatever shoes you wear, be sure they are clean and not ragged looking. Wear appropriate dark colored socks with your shoes if you are wearing slacks.

Be very aware of your grooming: Hair should be neat and off your face, and if you need a haircut, get one. Men, be sure any facial hair is neatly trimmed. At any interview, be sure you have brushed your teeth well and you don't have bad breath--but do not chew gum. Fingernails should also be clean, trimmed or filed, and fairly short. No polish or else a clear polish is best. A dramatic manicure is not going to impress the interviewers. Keep makeup to a minimum.
A little much...

If you have piercings that are visible, it may be best to remove the studs or ornaments for an interview. You can gauge how conservative the place is when you're speaking with your interviewers. A watch only, or very minimal jewelry, will be less distracting. It is often wise to cover any tattoos for the interview.

Third, what do you bring along with you? In most cases, if the interviewing person or persons expect you to bring any documents with you, they'll tell you when you are called for the interview. It is always acceptable to bring a notebook in case you want to make any notes, and again, be sure your notebook looks neat (maybe tucked into a binder or a dark colored folder--remember a pen!). Occasionally, you will have a chance to review the questions before the interview starts. This could be a chance for you to make some notes so you will remember things you wanted to point out to them. 

Fourth, practice being calm. Deep breathing can really help, as well as being sure you are using good posture. Are you sitting up straight? Are you looking the questioner in the eye as you speak? Do you lean in and indicate your interest in the position and the interview? Practice how you'll answer the questions they will ask. While you should not boast too much, be confident: they liked you on paper, now you need to underscore all you can bring to the position.

You can do it! And if it isn't this position that you land, you will get one eventually. Good Luck!!

For more interviewing tips and commonly asked questions, try this website: http://www.best-job-interview.com/typical-interview-questions.html

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