Monday, December 19, 2005

Employment Application Process, Phase 4: Interview

The fourth phase of the employment application process—interview—is the most critical one. Your résumé and application letter have gotten you this far; now it’s time to show in person that you are as good as your writing claims. To help yourself before, during, and after this big event, read the 20 tips in this installment of WORDS ON THE LINE. They are presented from a multidimensional perspective (emotional, mental, and physical).

Before the Interview


1. Enjoy the process. Psyche up yourself by believing that you are interviewing the employer as much as he or she is interviewing you.

2. Get there early. Settle in and think of your achievements that have brought you to this moment.


3. Know the employer’s purpose for the interview. Review whatever available employer materials that are available. At the least, visit the employer’s website. Understand the qualifications of the position. Consider the entire interview process a learning experience.

4. Know the questions. Consider responses to possible interviewer’s questions and select questions of your own to the employer. (Note: Check out the endless lists of useful commonly asked interview questions on the Internet.)

5. Wait patiently once you get to the waiting room. Read or write interview prep notes.


6. Practice. Try out expressions and responses in front of the mirror and on tape.

7. Dress and groom conservatively. Select a business-appropriate outfit and hairstyle for the interview.

8. Eat safely. Avoid eating anything that may upset your stomach.

During the Interview


9. Treat the interview like a business meeting. Be sure to ask your questions and stick to your agenda.

10. Be positive. Greet the interviewer with a smile and break the ice with a pleasantry to jumpstart the communication process. Show a professional range of emotion and speak tactfully.


11. Listen. If you have prepared properly for this interview, then you do not need to worry about what to say next; let your responses come from what is said rather than what you’ve planned to say. You’ll have time to say your piece.

12. Let the interviewer know you. This includes discussing your strengths and turning your weaknesses into advantages.

13. Beware of leading questions (What is the right way to handle that?) or loaded questions (Don’t you think that’s unfair?). Politely ask the interviewer to rephrase such a question, or frame the question in such a way that it is answerable without being misinterpreted. Of course, avoid asking leading or loaded questions of your own.


14. Stay fresh. Accept water if offered and make yourself comfortable without making yourself at home.

15. Take notes. This practice helps overcome jitters and keeps you focused on the meeting.

16. Show interest. Be animated and maintain eye contact.

After the Interview


17. End on a positive note. Appear optimistic and express appreciation for the interviewer’s time and interest in the outcome (if you like what you’ve heard).


18. Make the interview a learning experience. Create a company rating system based on whatever you’ve gathered about the company’s culture (company philosophy, work environment, staff attitude), work (responsibilities, authority, horizontal and vertical interaction), support (training, compensation, benefits), and commitment (work hours, commute time, out-of-town travel time).

19. Decide whether this employer is for you. Answer whether working for the company will help you fulfill your mission, meet your career goals, sharpen your strengths, and conquer your challenges.


20. Be busy. This entire process is about getting and staying in shape—physically, emotionally, and intellectually. Move on to the next task keeping in mind that your full-time job is finding a job.

This final tip brings us to the fifth and final phase of the employment application process—follow-up—which I will cover in the next installment of WORDS ON THE LINE.

To purchase your copy of The Art of On-the-Job Writing by Philip Vassallo, click here: