Before looking at the concept of a job interview, it is important to note that this event can happen at any time.
The job interview, acts as a filter for finding the right person for a job (vacant or newly created.) The interview allows recruiters to collect information about a candidate with direct personal communication (face-to-face, by telephone, or increasingly via the Internet). It only covers aspects of the candidate that are directly related to the job: intellectual capacity, technical knowledge, professional competencies, motivation, interests, etc.
• The interview can take anywhere from a half hour up to several hours.
• The interview is usually the client’s first direct contact with the institution.
• A successful interview is highly unlikely without rigorous preparation.
How to prepare for interview
The structure of a job interview. In formal interviews, interviewers try to organize questions in a logical order, and sometimes they are even scripted.
Interviewer questions meant to “break the ice” and create a relaxed atmosphere. Examples: “Did you find us easily? How do you feel today?” This is often followed by the interviewer explaining the company, its main activities and some details about the vacant or newly created job.
Questions designed to start learning about the candidate. Examples: “When did you graduate? What was your area of study? Did you have some other professional training? Where?”
Detailed questions on themes of interest for the employer. Examples: “We have noticed in your CV that… At the proper moment, the candidate will have an opportunity to ask questions. The number and nature of those questions will depend on the situation and how well the interview is progressing. Examples: Can you give me an idea of what my work schedule would be? What would my work area be like? May I tour the facility?
The interview ends with thank-yours and perhaps closing comments by the interviewer. Examples: You are a strong candidate, but we have others we must interview first. I must consult with my colleagues before we can make a decision.
Rules for interviews
A client usually needs help in identifying and providing the most relevant information about education, experience, skills, and achievements.
• A positive attitude will help to reinforce a client’s self-image and self-confidence. Candidates should be optimistic and should truly believe that the interview will be successful. After all, the portfolio drew sufficient interest for the company to agree to an interview, so the client’s application is already off to a good start.
• Clothing is a major factor in how a client is perceived, especially for the first impression. It should be business-like, not flashy, casual or cheap. Shoes and other accessories should match the style of clothing. Hair should be well groomed, and perfume and jewelry should be kept to a minimum.
• Non-verbal language is a set of signals a client transmits in an interview. They are very important to a recruiter, who may use them as a final decision factor no matter how well the client performed in the interview. Recruiters note how a client greets them, the firmness of the handshake (if appropriate), gestures and posture and eye contact, among other things. Experts recommend practice for the client on handling difficult questions under stress. If the client is not ready for this, the resulting non-verbal signals will tell an interviewer that something is wrong or that the client may not be the best candidate.
Even if you are familiar with the “classic” interview, such as a face-to-face discussion between the recruiter and the candidate, consider several other formats when preparing for an interview. They include phone interview, unscheduled interview, group interview, and follow-up interview, informational interview.
• “Face to face” interview represents the classic format, when the candidate has a discussion with only one person partly or fully responsible for the employment or promotion decision. The interview is usually structured, and protocol is clearly defined. The interviewer may be taking notes, either to use in the final decision-making process or to compare answers with those of other candidates.
• Phone interview. From the moment application documents arrive at the company, there is the potential for a phone interview. So the client should be ready to handle the conversation with composure and self-confidence. The candidate should find a quiet, isolated place to conduct the conversation. Few non-verbal communication tools are available in this format, but other aspects of communication, such as speech pace, volume, tone and rapidity can affect the interview’s outcome.
• Interview by committee. Sometimes, the company decides that more than one employee should participate at the interview, such as a team of recruiters or experts in the job’s field. The candidate should be flexible and adapt to the different styles of the committee members.
• Group interview. In this format, a recruiter places several candidates together and judge them in the areas of teamwork, interpersonal communication, problem-solving, leadership, and negotiation skills, using role-playing, team activities and classical interviewing techniques.
• Unscheduled interview. The client can encounter with this type of interview at a job fair or when a company revisits a person’s CV after some time. The client should be calm and quickly remember information shared with the company. If feasible, ask for a quick pause to find copies of material sent to that company. Generally, this interview is to determine availability for a job, and it is a preliminary discussion that can lead to a formal interview.
• Informational interview. In an informational interview you talk with a professional in your particular field of interest in order to gather career related information and to add to your professional network. It is NOT a job seeking interview. Typical questions:
o What are the career paths in this field?
o What are the newest trends in this industry?
o What are the key abilities and qualification I need to know for this career?
o Ask for advice
Interview-related stress tips
We all know people who are capable and talented but do not fare well with tests, interviews and other stressful situations. In those cases, here are some tips for reducing job interview stress:
- Be prepared and think positively, as noted earlier.
- Arrive at least 10 minutes early. This will impress the interviewer and allow time to relax and mentally prepare for the interview.
- Relaxation tools include deep breathing, creating pleasant mental images, and simple stretching exercises, particularly ones that relax neck muscles.
- Practice with your friends / family. The questions will differ from those in the interview. However the mind games you play, out loud, will prepare you for most questions you may face.
- Visit the restroom before the interview. It’s a good place to check appearance one last time.
- Pay attention to posture. Sit so you don’t tense up.
- You can try humor as a tension-breaker, but only with great care. Humor, no matter how well intended, is an easy way to offend the interviewer or to raise questions about how serious you are about the job.
- Under no circumstances should you lose your composure. Some interviewers try to provoke a candidate in a type of stress-style interview. Pause, take a breath and
- Try to maintain your dignity and focus.
Recommendations for interview
• Know exactly what job is desired.
• Learn as much as possible about the company and the job.
• Be well informed about the latest trends in the profession or business.
• Make a list of personal qualities, achievements and areas for improvement.
• Prepare a five-minute presentation on strengths and achievements.
• Be prepared to answer difficult questions on negative aspects of professional or personal histories to put them in the best possible light
• Refer to experiences/achievements that demonstrate an ability to meet the requirements of the job.
• Stress personal values that would fit well within the company.
• Go to the interview with a positive approach; the interviewer is a discussion partner, not an adversary.
• Be on time; showing up late will most likely kill a client’s chances.
• Don’t go to the interview with an empty stomach; a light meal or snack is advised. Likewise, avoid a heavy meal; it can cause drowsiness.
• Stay away from alcohol before the interview; even coffee can cause problems for some candidates
• Pay close attention to all aspects of appearance, especially clothes.
• Know how to react if coffee, tea or other soft beverages are offered. In some cultures, polite refusal is acceptable. In others, it is an insult.
• Try not to schedule another important activity on the day of the interview.
• Pay careful attention to what the interviewer is saying as well as to other signals -- intonation, pace, tone, pauses, any form of nonverbal communication.
• Be open to elaborating on professional experience beyond the CV.
• If a question is not understood, ask for clarification, and take a bit of time to formulate an answer to a difficult question.
• Try to answer in complete sentences rich with detail and free of meaningless or extraneous words. Avoid simple yes/no answers. (Szilagyi, Vladulescu, 2001).