Ch. 1: What is an Interview?
When it comes to job hunting, we're all salespeople. It's the job seeker's responsibility to sell themselves, their skills, and their achievements throughout the hiring process, but the interview is the first face-to-face opportunity they have to do it. Without the interview, hiring managers would have very little to go on when bringing on new employees, and job seekers wouldn't have the opportunity to feel out the employer.
This guide covers the basics of an interview, how to prepare for an interview, interview tips & guidelines, interview questions that job seekers should prepare for, and the interview follow up (usually by email).
What is an Interview? What's their Purpose?
By definition, an interview is an exchange between two or more individuals in which questions are asked by an interviewer to solicit facts and statements. More importantly, it is a test. It's a test to see if you are the best candidate for the position and if you can fulfill the duties and pressures of the position.
They gauge you on your appearance, demeanor, body language, the information you reveal, and how you handle questions and certain situations. A job interview precedes the hiring decision, and is a good way for employers to meet you and get a good sense of your personality and fit in the company.
An interview typically can last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, but rarely are they longer due to the limited amount of time that hiring managers have to spend on each candidate.
Since the company looks at your personality and fit, this is the time to gauge the your prospective employer and the company’s atmosphere. Look around and notice the work environments, the demeanor of others there, and try to get a general feel for the place. You are deciding if you want to work there, as much as, they are deciding if they want you there.
During the interviewing process, you can determine the demands of the job. Ask intelligent questions to give you insight into your functions in the company, if they can meet your requirements for growth, and if you can fulfill your goals at that company.
Why are Job Interviews Important?
Job interviews are important because you can make the impression that your cover letter and resume cannot. You can show them how much you care about yourself and the job. You do so by how you look, carry yourself, and manage the situation. Having strong eye contact and a good handshake can say many things about a person that the employer can't gauge from a piece of paper.
Interviews allow you to show employers how you handle yourself in a high-pressure environment and your ability to improvise. Show them how you match your resume/ cover letter - being knowledgeable of a specific skill or well-versed.
The questions they ask, how you answer said questions, and your body language are used to gauge your abilities as they relate to the position. You can demonstrate a level-headedness and give thoughtful answers to bolster your qualifications and to portray yourself as the best fit for the job.
Employers can access your personality to see if you fit the company’s dynamic, and you can see if you want to fit into that paradigm. It's really about exchanging information for both parties so you can learn about each other's backgrounds and expectations.
During the interview, jump on the opportunity to sell yourself -- demonstrate the skills that highlight your application. Give the interviewer a glimpse of how you are the best fit for the company.
From Interview to Job Offer
In order to beat the competition and land a job offer, it's important to do well in the interview, and the key to performing well with anything is preparation. Aim to look your best, handle yourself well, bring the proper supplies, prepare for potential questions, do your research, and highlight why you are the best fit for the job. Don’t fret if you were prepared for the interview, but you didn’t immediately get call back.
The average number of applications to any job posting is 200, so they usually have a lot of interviews to go through before making a decision. You can, however, follow up after the interview by sending the employer an email thanking them for their time. This makes you look courteous and considerate, and thus, more valuable.
The interview is the third step in the hiring process -- after submitting your application and receiving a call or email to schedule it. It's the job seeker's first chance to be in personal contact with the employer, to feel out the workplace, and to make a real connection with them. Use the interview to impress the employer with your demeanor, adaptability, and personal charm.
If you can connect with whoever you're interviewing with on a more human level, such as a shared hobby, then you'll be in a great position when they move on to the hiring decision. However, in order to get this far, the job seeker must prepare. Practice makes perfect, and interviewing is no exception to the rule.