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Stages of the Interview

  1. Preparation Stage. One of the most important stages of the interview occurs before you show up at the employer's door. This is the preparation stage where you conduct research on the employer and practice for the interview. Many job seekers feel that they can 'wing' it when it comes to the interview and they couldn't be further from the truth. At the least you should:
    1. Analyze your strengths and weaknesses
    2. Prepare your 'short stories' which demonstrate your skills. These stories will help the recruiter visualize your abilities.
    3. Research and read employer information and formulate your responses and questions based upon this information
    4. Plan your attire – make sure that everything fits and is clean.
  2. Making a good first impression. This may not appear to be a stage but if you do not make a good first impression you will have to work twice as hard during the rest of the interview. So, get off to a good start. What's important?
    1. Body language – not just attire but posture and attitude – recruiters are looking for enthusiastic, friendly employees. 65% of your conveyed message is non-verbal.
    2. Firm handshake
    3. Make eye contact when meeting the recruiter
    4. Smile!
  3. Question and answer portion of the interview. Preparing and practicing responses are the keys for this stage of the interview.
    1. Use the CAR method to formulate your responses. Questions generally will be based upon the job description for which you are interviewing. Employers look to your past performance as a predictor of your future performance so use examples as much as you can.
      1. Circumstances – the situation or task that you were faced with.
      2. Action – what action did you take to resolve the problem or situation?
      3. Results – of that action. Was the problem resolved? Was the customer happy?
    2. Be prepared to ask questions of the interviewer as well. This demonstrates an interest in the company and your future career and lets the employer know that you have done your homework. Focus your questions on your future but don't bring up salary, benefits or work schedule unless you are asked directly.
  4. Closing. You'll know that the interview is nearing the end when the employer asks 'Do you have any questions for me?' This is when you ask a couple of the questions you have prepared. You also can reiterate your interest in the position and how you fit their requirements. Always ask what the next step will be in the process – when should you expect to hear from them? Also ask for their business card and be sure to thank the interviewer for their time as you prepare to leave.
  5. Follow-up. The last step in the process is very important. Take that business card you received in the closing stage and send a thank you letter to the recruiter. It doesn't have to be long; it just has to be done. A thank you letter can set you apart from other applicants and bring your name to the top of the list. Thank you letters can be handwritten, typed or e-mailed; it's a matter of personal preference.

What Employers Look for in Applicants:

These are the qualities most frequently mentioned as important by employers:

  • Positive Attitude
  • Enthusiasm
  • Verbal communication skills
  • Preparation
  • Appearance
  • Maturity
  • Personality
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