How to Inteview For A Job

by Denny Strigl

The thing I enjoy most about being an author of a business book is the opportunity it has given me to speak with college students about leadership, management and my experiences in the business world. Last week I was very fortunate to spend a day with students at the University of South Carolina, lecturing and conducting Q&A sessions.  During the course of the day, the most frequently asked question (with variations) was “How can I get a job?”  Since the process of getting a job usually starts with an interview, I thought I would share my thoughts on how to interview successfully and hopefully increase your chances of getting the job you want.

A constant theme in my book, Managers Can You Hear Me Now? is the importance of focusing on the fundamentals.  Here are my fundamentals on how to interview for a job in the business world:

  1. Prepare ahead of time.  Do some research on the company. This should be obvious, but all too often job candidates under prepare. There is a lot to be learned from a simple search of the company’s website.  If the company is listed on one of the stock exchanges, you will be able to learn how the company is performing from a financial point of view.  Check their press releases for their last quarterly earnings report.  Look for new product releases or any other news about the company – good or bad.   Check for news articles about the company.  In less than an hour you can learn a lot about a company, which will enable you to answer questions you will undoubtedly be asked.  For example, one of my favorite opening statements for a job candidate was “Tell me a little about what you know about us.”
  2. Don’t be late for the interview.  Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early.  One of the worst things you can do is arrive late for a job interview.  I can’t recall ever hiring anyone who wasn’t on time for a job interview.  There is no good excuse for being late.
  3. Show each and every person who interviews you that you want the job.  I have interviewed many people who didn’t appear to really want the job for which they were interviewing.  If it appears that you came to the interview to see if the job might be of interest to you, or you come across to your interviewer as though you’re not really sure you want the job, I can almost guarantee you will not be offered the job.
  4. Dress like you want the job.  For men, this means wear a suit and a tie.  For women, this means wear a business suit.  Shine your shoes!  To get the job you have to look like you really want it.  By the way, in many companies these days “business casual” is acceptable dress.  When you are hired, you can dress like other employees of the company dress.  Until you are hired look extra sharp!
  5. Listen carefully to the questions you are asked.  Answer the question!  Don’t wander off by talking about things that don’t address the question your interviewer asked.  Also, never try to bluff your interviewer; always tell the truth.
  6. Be inquisitive.  Ask questions.  When your interviewer asks if you have any questions, be ready to ask a “good” question.  Your research about the company will prove useful here.  Don’t hesitate to ask for more detail about specific job duties.  Ask about something you read about the company like a new product or something you saw in a press clipping.  Show interest!    By the way, I think it’s a mistake not to ask questions because it might be perceived that you are not very interested.
  7. At the end of the interview look your interviewer in the eye, give him or her a firm handshake and let him or her know you are very interested in the job.  All too often candidates fail because they don’t ask for the job.  Ask for it!

The best candidates I’ve seen are those who are prepared, ask questions, appear confident and ask for the job.

Your goal, of course, in a job interview should always be to receive a job offer.  Do your very best to outshine other candidates and, by all means, don’t give your interviewer a reason to eliminate you.  Put yourself in the best light to receive a job offer.  Make the decision to accept or reject the job your choice!

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