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WHAT TO DO DURING A JOB INTERVIEW

1. The Big Day Has Arrived


You've confirmed your appointment, you've done all your homework, and you're ful
ly prepared...but you're still nervous. A little nervousness will keep you on yo
ur toes. Remind yourself you've done your homework and you're a qualified candid
ate for the job.
Organize the night before and make sure you bring an expensive pen, notepad, sev
eral original copies of your resume, notes on what makes you the right candidate
, good questions to ask and answers to some of the tough questions they may ask
of you. Include copies of any correspondence with the employer in the past, rele
vant employer articles, your references, letters of recommendation, outstanding
performance reviews, honors and awards, press clippings on yourself or your work
, articles you have authored, work samples, an expensive pen, notepad, and busin
ess cards. Keep everything neatly in a leather folder inside a rich looking brie
f case.
Many people say the first five minutes is when the interviewer makes his or her
impression of you. Some feel it is during the first 60 seconds. Therefore make i
t a point to put your best foot forward when interviewing anyone on your intervi
ew trail. Smile often, be friendly, positive and enthusiastic.
Punctuality is imperative. If you are late then you can expect to be out of the
running. So, look to be 15 minutes early to visit the rest room and make any las
t minute check ups. Sip some water, check yourself for hair, makeup, clean teeth
and fresh breath. Wash your hands to remove any oils or sweat. Don't smoke or c
hew gum immediately prior to or during the interview- employers can often tell.
If you have been perspiring during the day it might be best to take a quick show
er or wash before your interview. Bring an extra cleanly pressed shirt to work j
ust in case the one you have on gets soiled.
Upon entering the office of the employer, make an ally of the receptionist. Ask
for a copy of the company newsletter or any info she may have on the firm or the
interviewer while you wait. If you are able to develop rapport with her, she ma
y tell you the inside story on the firm, the hiring status, and the interviewer.
He or she can also help get you through to your contact in the future when you
call in. Get his or her name and write it down. If you are provided with an appl
ication, fill it out neatly and completely. Applications are often used to scree
n candidates and are usually scrutinized.
When the employer is 15 minutes late check with the receptionist on the schedule
. At 30 minutes late you should consider leaving a positive note with the recept
ionist stating, "I've assumed you've been unexpectedly and unavoidably detained.
Perhaps we'd better reschedule our interview. I can be reached at (your phone n
umber). I'll check in with you this afternoon or tomorrow."
When You First Meet
When the interviewer does arrive, make eye contact and smile. Stand and wait for
him or her to offer you a handshake. Return the offer with a hearty handshake t
hat should last a few fractions of a second longer than you feel comfortable doi

ng, and start talking before you let go. Open the conversation by repeating the
interviewer's name, making a sincere compliment, and asking a question that esta
blishes a friendly tone. Remarks like the following are effective when coupled w
ith a smile, a vibrant tone, and friendly body language.
Example 1:
"Hello Bob. It's a pleasure meeting you, especially after hearing such good repo
rts of you at our local association. Winning that Henderson Shopping Mall projec
t really gave you and the firm a reputation as market leaders. What I'd like to
know is, where do you go from here after being awarded the largest shopping mall
project in the Tri-States?
Example 2:
"Good morning, Carole. It's a pleasure to meet you. I enjoyed our conversation l
ast Tuesday, and I appreciate the help that you gave me in preparing for today."
Upon entering the interview room, do not touch anything on the interviewer's des
k, and do not sit until asked. Begin establishing rapport by making comments on
pictures or other items you see in the room of mutual interest. Once seated, all
ow him or her lead, even with the opening conversation. A few moments of silence
can be to your advantage. It shows your are pensive and not verbose. Be careful
with all you do. You will be under the microscope in the way you dress, your bo
dy language, facial expressions, posture, and what you say.
It's perfectly acceptable to ask the employer during the initial conversations o
f the interview if it's OK for you to take notes. Note taking communicates organ
ization and by taking notes from your folder you also have convenient access to
your prewritten notes, questions, and other materials. In taking notes, outline
the interview's key points to help you when giving your answers to questions, an
d in summarizing your closing interview comments. You want the employer to belie
ve you have heard and understood his or her interests and comments.

3. Managing the Interview


Try not to focus on whether you look good, sound good, or act good. Try to focus
on the employer's needs, concerns and wants. Your answers as well should reflec
t the employer's needs and solving the employer's problems. Keep your eyes focus
ed on the interviewer- not glaring but with friendly anticipation. Use the inter
viewer's name (never use the first name unless you are old friends.) Throughout
the interview make lots of eye contact to communicate honesty and confidence. Yo
u will gain respect by being well mannered, self-assured, relaxed and articulate
. Nod your head and verbally agree with the interviewer to communicate rapport.
Be flexible with your communication style and try to suit your style to the inte
rviewer. Do not interrupt while being asked a question or given an answer- take
notes if you have an escaping thought. Let the interviewer finish and even pause
a second or two before you answer. Answer all questions briefly, clearly, and c
onfidently. Never over explain or ramble. Do not lie, and do not contradict the
interviewer. Answer sincerely as though you were speaking with a friend. Avoid c
ontroversial topics or comments. Stay positive with everything you say. Remember

also it's fine to have a moment of silence to think about your answers. Taking
time to think can make you look intelligent and measured in your response.
Avoid the body language signs of nervousness such as leg swinging, foot and fing
er tapping, hair twisting, lip biting, excessive hand movements, or the other ha
bits you may have (ask your family and friends to tell you what signs to be awar
e of). Study the interviewer's body language since you need to see if he or she
is comfortable with you. Adjust yourself accordingly.
If the employer gives you objections, see them as opportunities to help the empl
oyer better understand why he or she should hire you. If your background is crit
icized, do not become defensive and make excuses. Take it gracefully and admit w
here you may be lacking.
If the subject of money comes up, try to avoid giving an answer. You might want
to ask them if they are offering you the job? Or state that you are flexible for
the right opportunity and that you feel now is not the right time for you to be
discussing money since you are still evaluating the opportunity.
Remember to try and enjoy the interviewer and build rapport. Concentrate on gett
ing the interviewer to feel you are like he or she in philosophy and agreeable i
n nature. People want to hire other people who understand them, support them and
are sensitive to their needs.

4. Additional Interviewing Tips

There is nothing wrong with rescheduling your interview if are not prepared. Avo
id late afternoon interviews when your energy level is at its lowest.
If you are sick or cannot perform your best for any reason, it is always better
to reschedule the interview.
Confirm the interview with the employer the day before the interview to make sur
e everyone is still on schedule.
Don't swear or use slang, sarcasm or pretentious vocabulary.
Don't joke around or tell jokes.
Scope out the turf if you can by driving to the interview location the day befor
e.
Don't show up too early since it makes the employer uncomfortable leaving you wa
iting and indicates you may be bad with scheduling. Visualize yourself getting t
he job.

Use the pronoun we, us or our instead of I, me or my.


Listen. Don't just sell yourself. You want to listen and ask questions if you do
n't understand.
Learn the route for your interview before the interview.
Don't answer with a simple yes or no. Explain answers whenever possible but be b
rief.
If you have a meal interview, make sure to eat items that are neat to eat, easil
y cut and placed in your mouth so there are no spills or awkward chewing. Ask th
e interviewer what she or he recommends, or order what they get.
Learn a few news items on current events, industry trends or events, and somethi
ng on the employer.
Be honest 100% of the time. Exaggeration and inaccurate information can cause im
mediate dismissal from consideration.
Try to schedule your interview in the mid-week to avoid Monday blues or Friday i
mpatience. Avoid the potential etiquette problems and distractions of lunch.
Bring several copies of your resume.
Bring only quality items. No throw away pens or cheap folders/briefcases.
Do not accept any job offers on the spot. Give yourself at least 24 hours to thi
nk things through.
5. Closing the Interview
In the closing, ask the interviewer what he or she perceives your shortcomings t
o be, and be prepared to address them. Once you feel your best qualities are cle
ar to the interviewer, don't oversell.
Make sure to summarize what the interviewer is looking for by giving them a rund
own of your understanding. Let them know that the position sounds right for you,
and ask about what the next step will be for you.
The goal of an interview is to get a fair offer, but if this is not possible the
next best goal in closing the interview is to obtain an invitation to a second
interview.

Example 1:
"John, what we've discussed today only confirms what I believed before our meeti
ng. If I understand the position, you're looking for someone with a background i
n computer estimating on commercial and residential projects, someone who can pu
t the full bid package together and manage a staff of five estimators is that co
rrect? With my lectures at Tampa Tech Institute on computer estimating, and that
fact that I've implemented the estimating program with my present firm, provide
s me expertise in computer estimating on commercial and residential projects. I'
ve also led the bid team on three successful bids just this quarter, which shoul
d indicate my ability to handle full responsibility as your chief estimator. I'm
more than enthusiastic about your opportunity, John, and after having met you.
I believe that this position is for me. What's our next step?"
Example 2:
"John, it's been a pleasure meeting you and I think you have an excellent opport
unity here. Do you see any gaps between my qualifications and the requirements f
or the job? Based on our discussions, do you have any concerns about my ability
to do well in this job?"
Example 3:
"I appreciate you spending this time with me. You have a good opportunity, and I
can see how this position fits well with my goals. What is the next step in the
hiring process, and when do you expect to make a decision? Should we try to sch
edule something for next week? When should I expect to hear from you? May I call
you if I have any further questions?"
***************************

WHAT TO DO AFTER THE JOB INTERVIEW: WRITING A 'THANK YOU' LETTER

Review Your Notes


After the interview you should write down immediately what happened, including t
he interview's name, title, areas of interest, key questions and concerns. Updat
e your portfolio of research information with the newly acquired information to
better prepare you for the next line of interviews, and to prepare a good "Thank
You" letter.
If they do not get back with you as expected, feel free to call the interviewer
directly to inquire about the next step for you in their interviewing process. T
here is nothing wrong with communication a proactive, positive approach to secur
ing the job you want by calling the interviewer after the deadline.

2. Write a "Thank You" Letter

A "Thank You" letter should be written to each person you meet during an intervi
ew.
Write a "Thank You" letter that communicates appreciation for their time and int
erest in you. This is an invaluable reflection of your good character, and provi
des you an opportunity to express the things you wish you had said during your m
eeting. Offer them new information such as copies of articles or references, new
s clippings, or work samples that substantiates your claims.
Here is your opportunity to send articles and documents of interest to the emplo
yers and mention those things you forgot to mention during the interview. Howeve
r make sure to keep it simple and stress the three or four reasons what makes yo
u right for this position
End the letter confirming your next appointment. This letter should be similar t
o your cover letter in style, but now you know more clearly how to relate your t
op qualifications to their requirements. Your follow up letter is almost always
read from beginning to end, so it need not be brief. Have someone edit the final
version.
Example:
"Thank you for your time last Tuesday. It was a pleasure meeting you and hearing
about your department's goals to bid $100 million in building projects over the
next twelve months. It came as a surprise to me that you were the builders on t
he Tampa Commerce Building. We understood Jones Construction Co. did all the wor
k for Powell Enterprises. You should be proud of securing that contract.
After meeting with you and your staff, I am even more convinced that our philoso
phies on the marketplace and the way to approach bidding are exceptionally compa
tible. My training in the use of Timberline computer estimating will be well sui
ted to the new software you've implemented. I also think my three years of mange
ment experience as chief estimator, and graduate business degree fits well into
your position profile.
I found it particularly interesting that most of your staff competes in the AAA
softball league. Did you know they need a center fielder like me? I was pleased
with your A.G.C. involvement; your chapter supports the Young Leader of the Year
program. As you know, I was elected in 1988.
My wife Mary and I have given this opportunity a great deal of thought, and we b
oth feel ready to move back to Tampa. I would like to meet with you again next T
hursday to ask you a few more questions, and show you a sample bid of mine that
I feel will be of interest to you. Please call me to let me know if you have an
extra few minutes on that day.
As an addendum, I'm including a copy of the article the A.G.C. wrote about me af
ter awarding me the Young Leader plaque, and a sample of my work on the Talbert
School project that we discussed. Once again, Fred, it was a pleasure meeting wi
th you, and I look forward to seeing you Thursday."